Atlanta, GA

Never Ask These Three Questions of a Georgia Gold Hunter


We joined a group of Georgia gold prospectors for a fun Saturday event, panning for gold in a stream on public property north of Atlanta managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Before and during the event, we received lots of friendly encouragement and support. The gold seekers included professional geologists, life-time residents, "legacy" gold hunters who grew up panning with family members, occasional hobbyists and lots of first-timers out for a new experience.

As we gathered in the parking lot of a county park, experienced gold seekers happily explained the process and nuances of gold panning to all of us newbies. They guided us through the best gear choices, how to identify the prime spots for panning, and a list of dangers that included venomous snakes, accidental falls, hypothermia or heat stroke -- depending on the Georgia day and time! -- and protective property owners with police on speed dial or worse!
On a gold panning excursion, we found experienced gold hunters to be friendly and helpful -- unless we asked certain questions.Photo: Our Travel Cafe

This was very similar to the experience we had online with several North Georgia Facebook groups as we did some research in advance.

Joviality Ends Here

But all the camaraderie, joviality and helpfulness ended with certain inquiries. From those experiences of asking and listening to questions, we learned to NEVER ASK these questions of a Georgia Gold Prospector:

What's your favorite panning location?

Our gold hunting meet-up location was posted online, as was the creek name. But that's about all the information you'll get. Some gold prospectors are extremely secretive about specific locations and "turn off" with such questions. Some just smile, chuckle and then change the subject.

How much did you find?

In online groups, gold hunters often post photos of their findings, usually laid out in a gold pan. It's common practice to place a dime or quarter in the pan for the photo so the experienced hunters get a reference. But that's very different from giving our specific weights, which is one of two major factors that count at sale time. As an FYI, one experienced hunter suggested that a "haul" of one gram per panning day was a good day. BTW, the most common answer to "how much" was "Enough to buy a sandwich or two, but not enough to cover my gas."

What did you earn when you sold?

This is the most touchy, and most important to avoid. Most of these gold hunters are hobbyists, but some take it more seriously. They will tell you where they sold gold, and places to avoid. But don't expect a straight answer on the amount received, either per ounce or a total. With gold selling above $2,000 per ounce, there are some safety and some tax reasons involved. And there's an understandable "none-of-your-business" attitude, too. You've been warned!

More On Gold Panning and Outdoors

Check out these recent posts about gold panning and other outdoor topics in Northwest Georgia:

Tips from Georgia Gold Hunters

We Found Gold in A North Georgia Stream

Sunrise Hiking at Kennesaw Mountain

Are Sawnee Mountain's Indian Seat Real?

Lake Allatoona's Nesting Ospreys (video)

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Hi ho, hi ho, off to gold panning we go, with experienced panners in North GeorgiaPhoto: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

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I'm a trained journalist, global marketing executive and experienced business leader who has run successful enterprises spanning five continents while serving customers who are among the world's best and largest restaurants. I've left the corporate business world behind, now living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm now a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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