Vulture Bait and Hey Budee Claim: Gold Trails Get Together Recap

Vulture Bait and Hey Budee Claim: Gold Trails Get Together Recap

Gold Trails on the Road

by Kevin Hoagland as seen in the May/June 2023 issue of Gold Prospectors Magazine


Vulture Bait GPAA Claim

Vulture Bait and Hey Budee Claim: Gold Trails Get Together Recap

The beginning of my 2023 Gold Trails adventure began on the Vulture Bait claim in Maricopa County, Arizona, and my backyard.

Three GPAA chapters from around the Phoenix metro area hosted what they called the March Fest equipment demo and training weekend. I was lightly involved in the planning of this get-together and attended mainly as an instructor focused on helping members with metal detecting.

The turnout was very good and ranged from GPAA-seasoned prospectors to first-timers who had never been on a GPAA claim, and it was those prospectors that this get-together was focused on.

Here is the video recap of the get-together:

For me, though, the focus was equally split between the equipment and the claim. Knowing about equipment and being able to know where to use it gives a GPAA member a huge advantage when it comes to successful golden days in the field.

VULTURE BAIT Maricopa County, Arizona

Vulture Bait GPAA Claim

The Vulture Bait claim is one of the claims that the GPAA has had for many years, and I feel that it is one of the most challenging claims. Not that it is hard to access, work or find gold on, but it is a massive claim that offers a great deal of gold that has to be prospected to be successful, which intimidates a lot of new prospecting GPAA members.  A great place to start learning about the Vulture Bait claim is by using this link,, and reading every member review on this and other Maricopa group claims.

Members using the “Rules of Thumb” have struggled with this claim for years. Take rules of thumb as a suggestion more than a rule. Case in point, aside from occasional testing after severe rains, I stay completely out of the washes. The larger washes have a lot of overburden and although you may get onto a little bit of flood gold, any real gold is most likely 3-5 feet below your feet, and even then, the amount of overburden that has to be run equals a lot of time and resources that you would be better to place elsewhere. Like following the smaller feeders that come into the larger washes. Many of these are narrow channels that during the rain strip the gold from its situ and deposit it in the first place that the gold hangs up in, which on this claim, are a lot of places long before the major washes.

I have prospected a lot of the little rivulets, many no more than a few inches wide, and I have found gold that I had passed over or was deeper until the floods stripped the surface material away. Those sometimes specks of gold have led me to dry washing, recirculating, and detecting nuggets.

Now outside of the main washes, we’ll toss a rule of thumb back in: checking the inside bends. But make sure that the inside bend is the real inside bend. Look for high-water marks (debris well out of the washes) and work from there down.

If your main type of prospecting is detecting, please re-read everything above and prospect the areas that I have described before swinging a coil or at least in conjunction with prospecting. Dry panning in some of those spots has put me on some very detectable nuggets in the past by just following the fines to the nuggets. I have pulled everything from grains to grams from the claim and a good friend of mine scored a very nice gold-in-quartz specimen. He is waiting on me, I think, to do a specific gravity test before posting to the Online Mining Guide, but you can see some of his other finds in his prospecting report by using the link above.

Because the Vulture Bait is a massive 160 acres, I have been able to find new spots for detecting with basic prospecting across the claim over the years. Each year after the monsoons and many winter storms, new ground is opened up by the rains stripping off sometimes less than a quarter-inch of topsoil. Of course, in detecting, just one more boot scrape can lead to some very nice nuggets. Keep your coil on the ground and go slow. I’d like it if you would watch one video I made about your coil on the ground and going slow — even an inch off the ground can cause you to miss a nugget. Here’s the link to the GPAA YouTube site:; the video is titled Coil Control.

Plus, if the fines to the nuggets show to be promising, I have an already-found spot for dry washing and recirculating.

The geology of the Vulture Bait is not uncommon for any gold-bearing area. Iron mineralization, a large number of granite and iron contact zones, alluvial and eluvial fans, mudstones, and rotting mineral belts cover almost every inch of the claim. In one area that I took the members out to during the March Fest, I shared with the group three very distinct geological event areas on one side hill, and in all of them I found gold.  

The most important thing to remember about the Vulture Bait is do not be in a hurry, look at everything, and not let the size of the claim overwhelm you. Most member breakdowns on the claim come from the size of the claim and the feeling that they have to cover X amount of land to find gold, when in practice the less you move around the better off you are going to be. Stay out of the main washes and look more at where the gold came from than where it ended up.

HEY BUDEE 10 San Bernadino County CA.

Hey Budee GPAA Claim

It has been a lot of years since I was on any of the Hey Budee claims, and armed with a lot of research from surrounding claims I was anxious to get boots on the ground and begin prospecting. The group of members that came out to prospect with me varied from first-time to expert levels and all were interested in getting on the gold.

I admit I spent more time sharing with them how the area was formed, geological structures, and the gold from other claims in that area than I should have, and that cut into our real prospecting time. For those of you that were with me, I apologize for being too much of an educator over miner. I’ll make it up to you because I am planning a mining trip back to the claim in the future because of what was found.

Here is the video recap of the Hey Budee Claim Get Together:

The Hey Budee 10 claim is 40 acres located right in the middle between two very active mining areas, with one of them being the 40-acre Placer Pete claim. From all of the information I have found researching the area and talking to claim owners, I was positive that the Hey Budee 10 was hiding a pretty good secret about its gold well above what was found when the claim was first located — it boiled down to the where and how. The why seems pretty straightforward.

This entire area was at one time a sea bottom, a lake, and a river. The order doesn’t matter but what it tells speaks volumes to a prospector and a miner. And this is where you have to look with different eyes way into the past. Walking around on the claim I found a few well-rounded rocks that had been moved by water, a great deal more water than would have ever come from ocean tides or the lapping of water on a lake shoreline.  That proves the river was here. Fossil and petrified freshwater debris found in testing and reporting over the years prove the sea and the lake. There is also a volcano that was active to the northeast of the area that in an eruption is hypothesized during its flow to have stripped the surface material and moved gold into the area. I feel that is provable by the amount of the softer white pumice and clays that have been found on Placer Pete associated with gold and is present on the Hey Budee as well as other claims up the valley; that material is being worked now and has been in the past and produced gold.

Hey Budee GPAA Claim

Over the millennium there has also been a great deal of fault movement both north to south and east to west. Again, provable from geological reports and simply looking around at the big picture. When you take all of this information and use it to really look deep into the past, the present becomes clearer — not crystal clear, just clearer.

What does all of this research and some speculation have to do with me itching to get back on the claim and why do I feel that there is a lot of opportunity for members to get out and start mining? Simple, a real gut feeling that there is a lot of gold that has been walked over because even most of the old-timers chased what they knew and moved on. And when I say most, there were some that ventured out beyond the known and from all the clues they left behind, they were on the gold.

When the group and I got away from modern workings, the entire landscape changed. I was pointing out a plethora of geologic changes and how water moved in numerous directions changing the landscape, then I found myself standing on a basalt, iron, and mudstone dike that runs the length of the claim on the northern side of the small mountain that separates the last of the southern part of the claim.

I asked some of the team to pull samples from the west side where there had been a great deal of water flow and I did the same, only higher up and on the east side of the dike. I also pulled and isolated a sample from about a foot down on the west side. After meeting up with another team member about 30 feet away from the sampling spots, I realized that we were not standing at the top of a wash, we were standing in an old mine. Working after discovering this one we found a few more, all very old.

Hey Budee Gold

That is a lot of backstories to get to this point but is all relevant in your search for gold on what I feel is a truly underrated GPAA claim. We all know there is gold on the claim — the claim has produced a number of nuggets and is on the same line as a number of extremely popular claims.

It looks different than some of the other claims with its jutting mountain on the southern end of the claim over the rolling hills of the Placer Pete claim. If you want to find gold on Hey Budee, get out of the box, look at the geology of the north side of the mountain, and try the eastern side of the dike. I know that’s where I’m heading next time on the claim. The dike splits the claim east and west, the majority of the water in this area runs east to west. My head says that nugget hunting will be better on the eastern side of the split, my gut says southeast.

-Kevin Hoagland


P.S., If anyone heads out to the claim from Hinkley Road and you happen to find a GoPro Hero 7 attached to a broken part of a suction mount, you can have the camera, I just need the SD card.  

1 comment

  • Alen Pfirsch

    Had a great time with you and the group at golden cat. Can’t wait to get back on the high flood with my high banker. Thank you Alen.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.