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 Concentrates
Gold Pans
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


  1. The best thing about that show is that it is getting gold mining in the public eye. Good or bad realy dosn't matter,as long as folks think that it might be fun to do themselves. Theres safety in numbers, the more miners(or wanna be miners) the better. It will be harder to shut down mining if there is enough people that want to do it. I have to agree though, when this show came out I had high let me down. Still, it's better than enouther cop or doctor show, I'm sick of those!

  2. I'm with you on the cop and doctor shows Gary! Best, J.R.

  3. JR

    Amber and I watch all the Gold Reality shows. The problem with T.V. reality is that it is wrought with lies and a lack of information. So much for reality. How many people caught James Harness saying the Hoffman crew were there a year before they actually mined? The Hoffman's always cry poor mouth, but they had some darn nice equipment this year, even with the lousy take their first season. The Hoffman's are broke and sold their airport. Why do they always come home to still owning that airport? How much money is Hoffman's crew paid by discovery? That remains the real mystery.

    Todd Hoffman sure looked spiffey with his Green Garrett backpack and Keene sluice in Guyana. Can't blame ya Todd, the original Dream Merchant Tom Massie didn't use the same metal detector twice until they secured a deal with Minelab's Kevin Hoagland. Hell he's a Massie employee now. I've heard that Hoagland does all the detecting and Massie takes credit for the finds.

    The Bering Sea Gold Under Ice show now catches out attention. Again a cast of characters seemingly hand picked for the ridiculous drama they are told to encite. They call Emily a diver. That is downright disrespectful for legitimate divers. She might go diving for trouser trout(oops probably shouldn't have said that, but we couldn't resist). Emily doesn't fall far from the family tree. Dad's about as sharp and as motivated as a Woodstock Attendee. We do like the Lazy Gator crew though. We like routing for the underdog. We do wonder though how long it took to get that 17.5 ounce haul. We're just waiting to see what the Multi-Millionaire woman at the water claim auction shows up with this year. It will probably be one of the barges used in building the Yangtze River Dam in China. Someone has to outdo the Pomrenkes.

    Wishing you our best.

    Amber and Paul

  4. Amber and Paul...very well stated! You guys bring up some points that I hadn't thought about. Actually, the original dream merchant was Tom Massie's dad, "Buzzard." Don't get me started on them and the GPAA...but many fine people are in that club...don't get me wrong. I like the Lazy Gator guys too...young, adaptable, and willing to do whatever it takes. Best to you, J.R.

  5. Did I miss the "down south gold rush"? I heard they were going to South America, but has it been on TV yet?? I hope they are doing better there........

    1. Yep...they went down to Guyana...a very remote location. The sort of spot that's bound to give up some very good gold (under VERY difficult circumstances). Best, J.R.

  6. Well, I'll be.....never even saw it advertized. It sure would be nice to be that broke. Pick up and move 3000 miles or more with all that gear, permits and such. Yep, I wish I was that poor.

  7. They'll show it again I'm sure...or you may be able to pick it up on YouTube. Anyhoo, same bunch of bone heads. J.R.

  8. Attention all,

    This just came in as an e-mail from a hard-core Hoffman Crew supporter who calls himself d_gall whom I suspect is Canadian...I guess I finally hit a raw nerve somewhere:

    "Where do you feel the right to talk down or even belittle them?
    You must not know too much about royalties from the discovery network, they hardly make anything.

    Todd and his father had to selleverything they had , they previously owned a successful private airstrip which supported three families which they liquidated everything they had to invest in this project. If they fail theyre broke , bankrupt, headed to the welfare office kind of thing.
    They single handedly supported all of the workers out there to survive.

    The royalties from the show dont even clear 25000 a season from discovery. and people like Thurber do not even clear 15k .

    They are taking a gamble.

    Before you judge or assume you should honestly do some research before you go talking shit about another human. You dont see them going and writing no garbage about you.
    You say you wouldnt work along side them, well personally I bet they would want nothing to do with you."

    (As far as the last line...perfectly fine with me. And why not take your meds before you have a coronary or stroke? J.R.)


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