The Tools of the Trade by Raymond Kukkee, Prospector

Prospecting country in Northern Ontario this is a photo of Kakabeka Falls called the Niagara of Canada.  Ray lives in the town of  Kakabeka Falls, Ontario.
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 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!