Wild Land is undeveloped land, public or privately-owned terra firma. Private land ownership may not include the mineral rights on the land. Think of it this way: A large metropolitan city may have a below-ground subway system that connects subway train tracks in a network of tunnels. People and businesses that own land above the underground subway system do not own it, and may not know that it operates beneath their land.
Before you bother to search for gold, research who owns the land that interests you and find out who owns the mineral rights of that wild land. With gold priced at $1278/ounce (today), do your homework to minimize the time and your effort to find a tiny ounce of gold that will put a lot of money in your pocket. Determine the probability of gold on your target wild land, and its state (pure or embedded in rock). You also want to know if the gold will come to you or if you must go to it. A force of nature, such as water from a natural spring, may bring gold to the surface of wild land. Over time, running water erodes gold-bearing rock so that you may find pure gold in the form of dust or nuggets at low places in the bed of a stream. But, if you do find some gold that way, realize that it got there by rising natural water that passed through gold-bearing rock (like quartz).
In the United States, most folks associate gold with California and Alaska, but did you know about the first discovery of gold in North Carolina (1799)? Some of the purest gold in the United States today still comes from North Carolina and northern South Carolina (veins of gold do not stop at the borders of states). Begin your research for gold on wild land by studying state guides to find out where known veins of gold lay. Then, switch your search to the counties within those states to find out who owns the wild land there and how to reach them. After that, you have three tasks before you. First, determine how you will search, what equipment that you need, and where you will sell the gold if you find it. Second, contact land owners and discuss with them truthfully what you want to do. Seek cooperation. Many land owners will turn you away. You fare better by being turned away and learn from the experience than you will by a charge of trespassing and forfeiture of gold that you found. With persistence, you will find land owners who will talk to you. When they agree to talk with you, come prepared to listen, to talk plainly, and honestly. Likely, they are interested in something that you have said, or they would not talk with you. Probably, a land owner will tell you that they do not want their family, animals, water source, or the appearance of the land disturbed, and they do not want to hear loud noise or receive complaints about what you do from their neighbors. After those details are worked out to their satisfaction, they will want to reach a binding agreement with you about how much of the value of the gold found on their land will be given to them.
Always practice patience, honesty, and transparency with a cooperating land owner. Ask for a trial period before an agreement, so that you can determine evidence of gold before you invest your costs and time, and invite the land owner to be present as often as he or she likes while you search. That way, both of you get to know and like each other. Tell the owner exactly where you would sell gold found on his or her land and invite the owner to come with you if that happy event occurs (transparency). Transparency leads to trust, which leads to an agreement that can be put on paper, witnessed, and signed.
Negotiate the agreement carefully before you put it on paper to present to the land owner. You speak first because you offered do something. The land owner speaks last because it will not happen unless he or she agrees. When you speak first, lay out your costs. Don’t leave out any cost. Examples include: tools, work clothes, equipment (rented or depreciated if you own business equipment), your labor cost, the cost of housing, meals, transportation, and any other cost that you incur because you do not live near the owner’s land. Propose a target price for an ounce of gold in the form of a range. You do not know how long you must labor to find gold, and the price may go up or down. Protect yourself in the agreement if it goes down substantially. Protect the land owner if the price goes up substantially.
The simplest agreements are formed on who bears the risk. You might agree to split profit from the sale of gold that you find on wild land if the land owner agrees to pay half of your cost to search, even if you find no gold. If you assume all costs, you should explain that if all risk is yours, you may not eat. Argue that 90% of the profit should come to you if the owner will do nothing but watch while you work and pay nothing if you fail. Don’t get emotional and don’t let the land owner get emotional if early negotiation stalls. Simply take a break, share a meal, and suggest that more trial time to get used to each other should be applied; negotiate later. As you come to agreement, be careful to include how you will prove your time invested to the land owner. It may be as simple as you dropping by his or her house before you go search for gold on the wild land and at the end of the day. A record of your work should be kept by both parties who sign the agreement. This business process will make sense to you and to the land owner after completion. After a completion, it is a repeatable process, plus you and the land owner will likely build a foundation of trust, a bond, a friendship. Both of you will rejoice when you find gold on his or her wild land.