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Friday, November 11, 2011

The Benefits of prospecting during Cold Weather

A snowy owl in flight during cold weather, one of the best times for prospecting.

The greatest benefit of prospecting during cold weather is there aren't any black flies around to gnaw on your bones. There are also many other benefits, probably the second most important is there aren't any mosquitoes around either. These two critters can make prospecting during the warmer month’s sheer hell. Another critter that is missing during the cold months is snakes. Many snakes are harmless, but the onesyou are apt to encounter while prospecting may not all be. It is the venomous snakes like copperheads, coral snakes, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes that can raise hob within any prospecting expedition.  For the most part even bears go into hibernation during the coldest months of the year. 

That leaves some other critters that might remotely be a bother, but only members of the deer family and the mountain lion are truly dangerous.  Usually deer try to avoid contact with humans, but during rutting season in the late fall male deer have been known to attack humans.  I once had a late fall encounter with a bull moose, a member of the deer family that could have been dangerous, but the moose didn’t like the smell of my companion that I’d been after for two weeks to take a bath.  The other dangerous animal is the mountain lion; they look upon humans as lunch.  Most mountain lions are confined to really wild areas in the western United States or the Florida Everglades.  They are very rare, but I observed one in Connecticut about thirty years ago.  According to the Department of Environmental Protection in Connecticut there weren’t any mountain lions in the state.  This spring one was killed on the Merritt Parkway, and another was observed by a canine control officer in northern Connecticut.

The perfect thing to go prospecting in during the winter.  Vehicles like this are used extensively for prospecting in Canada and other cold places.  This is a prototype that was built in Montana during the 1970s.
Photo by Gyre

The greatest benefit of cold weather prospecting is you can see so much further when the trees are bare.  One of the greatest problems facing a prospector is being able to find bedrock.  No leaves or other vegetation make it so much easier.  If you are panning for gold in a stream you can still do so just by wearing rubber gloves.  When I was prospecting in the cold weather I used to wear the bright red gloves that were covered with rubber, and were insulated.  They kept the cold water out, and the heat in.

It’s also much easier to get around in the bush or muskeg when the ground is frozen; in fact in some places where you want to prospect can only be approached during cold weather.  You don’t want to get into muskeg during warm weather, you’ll still be there.

Even if you are not out prospecting it is still a good time to plan your next expedition by studying the literature about the area where you intend prospecting, and laying your plans.  Remember there are plenty of other minerals worth looking for besides gold.

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