More Musings on TV's "Gold Rush" Reality Series
(Three Members of the Hoffman Crew posing [as miners?] in Guyana along with a Canuck who really DOES know his stuff.)
My Biggest Complaint
To put it mildly, I'm not a big fan of Discovery Channel's "Gold Rush" reality TV series. Sure, I watch it most of the time because I'm drawn to ANY television show dedicated to gold mining or western mining history, no matter how piss poor that program may be in the strictest sense. I guess the best way for me to explain this is that, for better or worse, I'm not unlike those folks drawn to accident scenes or house fires...I just have to look.
My biggest complaint against this series has always been that it tends to paint a picture of mining that is totally alien to most small-scale miners. Initially, I had genuine concerns that this "dream merchant" image of a bunch of inexperienced stumble bums (i.e., the Hoffman Crew) without even the most basic gold mining knowledge (how to prospect, how to pan, how to sample, etc.) finding gold would inspire hundreds of other couch potatoes to sell all they had and head north (or more recently, south to Central America) to strike it rich at the risk of financial or familial ruin.
None Could Go it Alone
As I've said before, just because you can operate heavy equipment on known gold ground backed by the resources and money of a popular TV series and its producers doesn't make you a gold prospector or miner...and I don't give a flying you-know-what where you're operating. I still maintain that there's not a single member of the Hoffman Crew who could go it alone and find gold without the benefit of excavators, bulldozers, and a premium gold claim that's a known producer.
Gold Prospecting Books
Am I a purist? Hell, yes and I always will be. You see, I came up the hard way in small-scale prospecting and mining, just as most of you have or are in the process of doing. I never had big money backing me, million dollar equipment, or the unmitigated stupidity or arrogance to assume I could mine gold without prior knowledge or experience.
Doing is One Thing...
That's one side of the coin. The other is that I am fully aware that doing is one thing, and talking (or writing) about it is another thing entirely. By and large, I don't care for the Hoffman Crew as individuals or as a group. I doubt I could work alongside them for very long before I unloaded both barrels on them individually or collectively.
("Yer all millionaires...all ya gotta do is git it outta the ground.")
However, to a great degree they're doing what I'm not...and that's mining full time (or close to it). I'd love to have the freedom and the opportunity the Hoffman crew has and I'd gratefully accept the problems they face in their dramatized misadventures. Especially with someone else footing the bill if I ended up stepping in the doggie doo-doo because of my inexperience or my stupidity, or both.
Real Mining Experience
I'd like to think that my 33 years of small-scale prospecting and mining experience mean something to someone, somewhere...other than myself, that is. I would also hope that my long-term study of western mining history and mining methods would give me an advantage over the Hoffmans in similar circumstances...but perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree here.
After all, stupid is as stupid does and the mainstream TV viewing public tends to swallow anything these days be it political, social, or pseudo-dramatic. Without a doubt, real common sense and mining experience and expertise will never be as exciting as flying by the seat of your pants in staged environments where most (if not all) of your bets are covered by someone else.
I truly wish the Hoffman Crew the best in their pursuit of gold and yes, I envy their freedom to a great degree. Still, I wouldn't mine alongside a single one of these stereotypical "wannabes" if you stuck a gun to my head.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Thoughts on TV's 'Gold Rush' and What it Takes to be a Gold Miner"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org