Mail man from Fairfield, Connecticut finds his first gold nugget in Happy Camp, California!

Four hours of panning and I was totally hooked!” Those are the words of a new gold prospector, Henry Kutash of Fairfield, Connecticut. When asked how he got started in gold prospecting, Henry said he had originally panned for gold in historic Jamestown, California and also a little in various areas of southern California. But he didn’t find much gold there, so he kept searching for a new, more productive, area to spend his valued vacations.

Last summer, Henry traveled 2,800 miles to attend a weekend training program sponsored by The New 49’ers gold prospecting association in Happy Camp, California. Very educational weekend training programs are scheduled throughout the summer months. Members of this Association gain access to 60+ miles of mining properties managed by The New 49’ers, and get to keep all the gold they can find. Henry was determined to recover his fair share!

The New 49’ers sponsor a number of organized events, including specialized training programs and group mining projects. Henry definitely took advantage of each and every day of his two-week visit to Happy Camp. He participated in every activity that was scheduled, took every lesson that was available and went along on all the organized outings. He was particularly impressed with how friendly and helpful everyone was in Happy Camp. According to Henry, “The nicest thing about the New 49’ers is that they are so family-oriented. A lot of family members were enjoying prospecting together.”

During the first week, Henry learned how to really use his metal detector for nugget shooting. “Not that it’s so difficult, actually,” said Henry, “It’s just that it takes some practice to atune yourself to what you are listening for. To find gold nuggets with a detector, you just have to get out there and work at it. Happy Camp gave me the opportunity to receive some expert help which moved me along quite rapidly on the learning curve. Of course, it also helps to be in the right location!” Henry attended the advanced class taught by Gordon Zahara—who is northern California’s leading specialist in metal detecting for gold. Gordon sets up a special double set of headphones for his students so that he can listen in on what they are doing with the detector. Sometimes there is very little difference in sound from specific hot rocks and some gold targets. So this training is worth years of trial and error. Henry learned to identify the sounds of hot rocks vs. good targets. He also became familiar with the ground balance function of his detector. Once he had mastered this—he was on his way to success!

Henry spent most of his two weeks panning and sluicing for gold—which mostly was fines and small flakes. While he was happy with this, he really wanted to find a nice nugget to take home. Deciding his best chances were with the use of his metal detector, he arranged with Gordon to go out to the Independence Claim and do some nugget shooting.

Soon after he began, Henry received a strong signal that for some reason started to decrease about four or five inches down. Yet, after he and Gordon removed some of the bedrock, the signal became strong again. Henry did not know there was a nugget until Gordon washed it off and dropped it in a cup—offering the prize to Henry.

“It looked like just a black rock to me,” said Henry. Yet, there in the cup, was a one-pennyweight nugget sitting up like a chocolate bunny!

Now that’s the way to end a vacation!

Besides, Henry had vowed not to shave until he found a gold nugget, so I’m sure there are some happy postal workers back in Fairfield!

Henry had sent postcards to many of the patrons along his route back home; but now the “clean shaven” Henry was really looking forward to showing them his nugget—especially to the woman at the bakery where he gets his coffee every morning…

“She’s going to faint when she sees this!” stated Henry.

Henry shared that he has no ties back home, that he can come and go as he pleases—so I feel it is safe to say that one of the places he’ll go next year is right back to Happy Camp, California.

Good Luck Henry!