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Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Tools of the Trade for Rockhounding by Raymond A. Kukkee, Prospector

Kakabeka Falls Ontario a Rockhound's paradise
Photo by Hans Jurgen-Hubner

Raymond Kukkee has been a hard-rock prospector in Northern Ontario for over thirty years, and the following article is built on his experiences while prospecting.  What he has to say about the tools needed to be a prospector is just as valid for Rockhounding. 

What you should take with you on a prospecting outing is always a good question. It's always better to have something and NOT need it, than to be 60 miles out on the trail wishing you did bring it along.
 Here's a list of what I usually take along on my day trips.  Remember I 'm going out in my truck and might be  dragging  a 4WD Quad along to save the feet too!

Even for a 2 hour walking trip, I take most of  the following tools and other helpful items,  but once out in the field  at times,  I may leave some  items  in the truck, depending on the outing:

•    A jeweler's loupe,  I use a 25x triplet
•    Topographic  and geology maps of area to be explored
•    Prospector's license*
•    Pad and pencils. Take extra pencils, they get lost easily. A compact  waterproof paper notebook is handy
•    A compass  (liquid-filled, good quality)  I use a Silva  or Brunton surveying type  c/w signaling mirror
•    A GPS unit capable of mapping,  projecting and tracking way points.    My present GPS is a Garmin GPSmap76CX, which is reliable and runs for a couple of days on 2 AA batteries.
•    Safety glasses for bashing rocks.  We only have ONE set of eyes so take care of them!
•     A compact first aid kit
•    A belt-carried hunting knife -6"   and / or a multi-tool type belt knife
•    A prospecting "pick" hammer. (In this area we have a special tool called a "Tweedie" tool named after Ron Tweedie, the inventor and maker.  It is a 36" short-handled   hammer with a 3" flat blade opposite that can be used both  for whacking rocks and grubbing, to remove moss/dirt for stripping.  (In prospecting that is convenient, it saves you bringing along a wide pick.)   At times it might be the only hammer you carry.
•    A sharp cold chisel  ½" x 12" long
•    A 4-lb short- steel- handled  "crack hammer"  unbreakable (Estwing) for serious sample removal.
•    Some paper to wrap special delicate specimens
•    Plastic sample bags 6-10  mil  8x14"  are good,  but  you can use recycled plastic bags of any type. I take along heavy recycled 1-liter plastic milk bags when available.*
•    A red or orange wax pencil for marking stakes or posts.
•    Fluorescent flagging tape to mark sample locations
•    A black marker to write ON the flagging tape
•    A short-handled ox-head axe--for cutting claim posts.   If cutting claim lines, I also  take along a
•    Swedish brush axe which is the bow design.
•    A folding shovel for the back pack, and a long-handled shovel for the truck.
•    A very compact emergency 3"x4"x 2"fishing outfit, a few hooks, line, sinkers, and a small lure.   Maybe a small collapsible fishing rod!
•    Wide-brimmed floppy hat that will cover the ears.
•    Full face mosquito net that fits over the floppy hat for extreme insect conditions.
•    Fly dope.   Various types, it must work on blackflies, mosquitoes, and deer flies.  But is generally USELESS for those tiny noseeum sandflies in hot weather
•    Extra socks to keep the feet dry.
•    Heavy boots that have high ankle protection. Waterproof boots are best
•    Rain gear--lightweight rubber but full body coverage including a hood--or the  Gortex type
•    Long-legged pants,  NOT shorts.
•    Long-sleeved shirt and jacket
•    Leather gloves, or good quality cotton gloves with leather facing
•    Eye-glasses.  I always take a spare pair!
•    Sunglasses
•    Sunscreen: 40SPF minimum.
•    A compact, folding dome tent.
•    In some areas, a snake bite kit is a good idea.
•    For SOME locations, belt-carried  Bear pepper spray is important.
•    Aspirin or Tylenol.
•    Medications if you need them.
•    Drinking WATER:  NEVER  allow yourself to become dehydrated.
•    Matches. Use safety matches, protected to keep dry, or bring along a Fire Starter (magnesium) bar.
•    Food:
•    Dry Trail mix for snacks.  
Oranges are good too, and keep well
•    Lunch!    The best part of prospecting out in the bush!  I almost always take cheese sandwiches going on day trips into remote areas.    Take food that will still be good for a week even if it's squashed, melted, or beaten up. Dehydrated type foods are good for long trips too.
•    **  NOTE:   NEVER take meat sandwiches or chicken with mayonnaise out into hot weather, they can be unsafe to eat after a few hours in summer heat!
•    Hot Coffee or Tea in a thermos for cold days.
•    A small single-burner propane stove can be handy!
I guess that’s about all you  can carry, but then there’s a spare key for the vehicle,  spare gasoline, a couple of quarts of oil, some tools, a Jack-all, a couple of spare tires, and walkie-talkies if you have them.

Don’t forget that 8-lb sledgehammer for serious work, a compact bow saw for firewood -- and your driver’s license.

I guess that’s about all you should need at this point.   I hope you’re having FUN!  If I think of anything else, I’ll let you know!     Stay safe!


* Needed in Canada!

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