Could you earn a living prospecting for gold?

Yes, it is possible, but VERY difficult and arduous work.

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It very much depends on how much money it takes to maintain your desired lifestyle. When i lived out of my van and had no children or wife i found it was very easy to earn a living. Once i got the experience i needed to know to learn how to "read the river"it was easy to make $150 to $400 per week just using a gold pan, sluice box and a small suction dredge (2 1/2 inch). The key is not to give up until you figure out what you are doing, then it gets fairly easy. Fun even.

It is tough in the beginning and it is very easy to give up. The rewards are there however if you stick with it.