Money making hobby: panning for gold
Lately many Californians have been heading to the rivers and streams to prospect for gold. The increase in people taking up this activity has some newspapers writing about "the new gold rush". Although very few people can make a living off of finding gold, it is a decent money making hobby since gold is worth around $900 an ounce currently. Here is how you can get in on the action.
First of all, you need to find out where you can legally prospect for gold. National parks are off limits, but there are still lots of public land where you can look for minerals. You should research mining records and public land records at your local Bureau of Land Management if you are serious about finding gold. You can also stake a mineral claim on Federal lands in 19 states to prevent others from digging in your spot. Usually other prospectors will not tell you where they hunt for gold so it is up to you to find your own sweet spot. An easy way to get started is to join a prospecting club that already has mineral claims on lots of land.
Next, you would need some tools. A simple gold pan is enough for sifting gold from streams. You also need a plastic container to hold the gold you find. A magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers would also help with extracting the tiniest pieces of gold. A shovel also helps in digging up sediment. More serious gold hunters also use metal detectors and dredges to suck up gravel. However, if you are just starting out you probably would not want to invest heavily in machinery, yet.
As a final step you would head out to the site to pan for gold as the weather allows. This activity is actually pretty labor intensive and requires a lot of patience. You should not expect to find a lot on the first outing, but it is good exercise and you will most likely be somewhere with fresh air. Your gold yield may get better as you learn more about prospecting, but as long as you enjoy the adventure the monetary rewards will probably come second. Many weekend prospectors have met good friends through the hobby, and those friendships are more valuable than the little shiny specks they find.
Have you ever gone out to hunt for gold and other treasures? What is the most rewarding part of your hobby?