Once you have held a substantial sized natural gold nugget in your hand, you are highly susceptible to catching "gold fever". The symptoms of gold fever include the desire to go out and find your own nuggets. This article will help you to do so. However, you should look at "gold nugget hunting" as a hobby, as it is most likely that you will spend more money hunting gold nuggets than the nuggets you actually find will be worth. This is because most known gold fields have been carefully scoured over the years by other nugget hunters. If you are lucky enough to find a virgin gold field, you will be one of the lucky few.
I have personally spent many hours and days with a metal detector hunting for gold nuggets. I have to say that it is often tedious and back breaking work. There is so much buried trash and old spent bullets left behind by miners of old and hunters and target shooters that most of your time is spent digging up trash and bullets. Still, when you finally pull a shiny nugget out of the dirt it is a thrill indeed.
The best areas for finding gold nuggets are areas that are already known for producing nuggets. You can research such areas by checking for books on gold nugget hunting on the internet or at your local library,. Many books have been written which disclose the locations of known gold areas. Remember though that if the area is well known, it has likely been scoured by other gold nugget hunters and may even be "claimed" land, meaning you will be trespassing if you go nugget hunting there. Do your homework before heading out.
You can also exchange ideas with other gold nugget hunters by joining a gold prospecting club like the GPAA, which allows you access to many known gold bearing areas throughout the US.
Scanning the ground with a metal detector is the most common and practical method for finding gold nuggets, commonly known as "gold nugget shooting". Modern metal detectors like the Minelab GPX 5000 can detect nuggets buried deeper than 3 feet in the ground. Many significant gold nugget discoveries have been made with a metal detector. The largest gold nugget in existence from the western hemisphere was found in Senora Mexico, 70 miles south of the Arizona border, using a $49 Radio Shack metal detector.
Other methods for finding gold nuggets beyond nugget shooting with a metal detector are panning, dredging, sluicing, and hard rock mining. With hard rock mining the gold will be in crystalline form, and will often be attached to the host rock in the form known as "gold in quartz".