Reality TV Finally Deals with Small-Scale Gold Miners

 (One of the "Devil's Canyon" miners packing in.)

OK, I already know that most of you know I don't care much for reality TV gold shows, especially "Gold Rush." But there's a new show soon to air on the Discovery Channel called "Devil's Canyon" that I'll take a closer look at simply because it involves small-scale gold mining. It won't be scripted either since there will be no camera or production crew tagging along with the three prospectors/miners involved...they'll be filming themselves. How's that for a novel idea?

It's Apples and Oranges

I've ranted and raved for quite a few years now that shows like "Gold Rush" DO NOT show what real gold mining is all about, especially from the small-scale point of view. You take a bunch of jackasses (the majority of the Hoffman Crew) with no gold mining or prospecting expertise and give them oversized Tonka toys to play with, drop them in the middle of proven gold ground, and then watch the antics as they fumble and fuss their way through commercial mining faux pas. Note I said COMMERCIAL mining here. Most of these incredibly inept dudes (minus Freddy Dodge who is a miner's miner) couldn't find a speck of color to save their own asses if left alone to make a go of it like a small-scale miner does each and every time he or she hits the field. They'd be babes in the woods in that regards, trust me on that. You could put a trained monkey in an excavator, bulldozer, or rock truck and point them in the direction of the gold and that chimp will turn up color sooner or later. But hand that lower primate a gold pan and a rock hammer and turn him loose along a gold-bearing stream or out in a desert dry wash, and he'll more than likely come up empty. It's apples and oranges folks and never the twain shall meet. (One postscript thought here...why the hell does someone like Freddy Dodge hang with the Hoffmans? Money? To be a TV "star"?)

(You can train a monkey to do almost anything.)

Drama and More Drama

The other thing that gets my goat about shows like "Gold Rush" (and some elements of "Bering Sea Gold") is the drama aspect. Drama, drama, and more drama. Drama sells TV productions and movies. The dumbed-down masses out there who watch this shit think this is what gold mining is all about. That stumblebums like Todd Hoffman are "real" gold miners! The reality is that small-scale gold miners are, by and large, drama free and what they do and how they go about it is often repetitious and downright boring from the TV reality show perspective. No drama and boring means no money coming in because the dolts sitting on their living room couches ain't gonna watch real "reality." They want fairy tales of thousands of ounces of the yellow stuff and all you gotta do to get it is haul your ass up to Alaska or the Klondike, get a claim and a wash plant, and it's strike 'er rich time. It's a distorted and even perverted depiction of what I consider mining and miners to be. Am I harsh in my criticisms here? You damn well bet I am. I'm a small-scale gold guy from the get go and I love the history and traditions of those who came before me. The mining bullies, arrogant little punks, and ass clowns on shows like "Gold Rush" don't fit into that mold for me. Sure, some of you will say I'm jealous and wish I could be raking in hundreds of ounces. Let me tell you something. You're DEAD WRONG! I could give a shit less about them and that.

 ("Holy hell bro'! We should try our hand at gold mining too!")

The Hard Way

So I'll give "Devil's Canyon" a chance. Anytime three small-scale miners are willing to brave the hostile wilderness of a remote section of British Columbia to get at the gold I'm going along for the ride least to see what's what. What they're doing is not the easy path to success. It's the hard way, all the way when you have to pack in everything you need on your back. Just like all those prospectors and miners who, in decades past, roamed the deserts and mountain canyons searching for the yellow. That's the true nature and spirit of small-scale gold mining and prospecting. And it ain't just about getting the gold, it's about surviving in a hostile environment where there are no roads, no convenience stores, no cell phone coverage, and no TV production crew or cameramen to turn things into a soap opera. If the shit hits the fan in "Devil's Canyon" these three men are on their own. They have to rely on their own knowledge and experience, and most importantly...on one another. That's what real mining is all about.

By the way, a few years back I was contacted by a TV production company that did shows for Discovery, the History Channel, etc., and asked my thoughts about a "gold show." I said what they oughtta do is show what gold mining is really like, what it takes using one or two people and small-scale gear out in the field. Absolute truth. Hmmmm...........

 (Getting firewood ready on "Devil's Canyon.")

Making a Connection?

Will the Discovery Channel find a way to screw "Devil's Canyon" up? Perhaps. But at least the couch cowboys sitting in their living rooms with beer can in hand finally get a chance to see what real prospecting and mining is all about. Hopefully they'll learn something and make a connection or two about the difference between the three miners in "Devil's Canyon" and the posturers and wannabes in "Gold Rush."

I sure the hell hope so...

(c) Jim Rocha 2017

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, I haven't heard about this one yet. I hope it is done right and not just more of the same.
    We went back up to the cabin yesterday. Still too much snow to drive there, but you can get about a 1/4 mile from it. The amount of run off this year should move some gold around. The last two years, I haven't got out at all.....gunna change that this year!!

  2. I was involved in the casting of Devils canyon. Although I wasn't picked, I gave the producers a ear full about the garbage gold shows currently on air. This show appears to be the real deal, very exciting.

  3. Good for you Josh. I wouldn't expect anything else from you and your family!

  4. Here is my take. All of us Prospectors or wannabe Prospectors, Internet Prospectors or as some of my buddies call people... book Prospectors want to feel like "we know better" better than them. But if the truth was known there probably are only a few that really do know better. Those people could care less about the shows. Others watch to feel Superior. And believe me it's not hard sometimes to feel Superior to Todd and some of his bonehead moves. But I hate to burst anybody's bubble, the shows are never going to change. Hollywood has a script they go by. Oh I'm sorry you thought I was a reality show. Whether it's the Lucy show Friends or a myriad of other programs. Always going to have a hero. Always going to have a villain or an idiot. Whether it's Gold Rush or Orange County Housewives it's all the same formula. Just appeals to a different audience. Oh and sorry Todd you're just too stupid to know you're being used in their formula. As long as the numbers are there they will sell advertising and it'll keep getting produced. Hollywood has this romance about something for nothing, finding gold, striking it rich blah blah blah. But we know as discussed by Jim in the past, prospecting and Mining are not romantic. They are kick you in your ass beat and up & cut you up then spit you out hard. The other selling point that Hollywood has with these shows is gold itself. And what gold does to you. I hope you all got to see the not so good at the Box off movie GOLD with Matthew McConaughey. A flop at the box office. My wife and I watch that and totally got every second of it. Cuz gold does weird things to people. It makes people do weird things. And that's what these shows are counting on. People doing weird things so we all can laugh at them. My buddy found a 1.2 ounce nugget this weekend. Wow the vultures came out of the woodwork. He literally had to leave the outing that weekend as he was being hounded to death.
    I to hold hope out 4 Devils Canyon. I hope for once we can have an honest show. As for me, prospecting is really only about one thing. Beating gold that its own game. Find its hiding spot. Expose and learn from our history of past days. Most of all learn mental toughness. Enjoy and respect the ways of the past. Be a real man and not a snowflake. Enjoy every second of every adventure.

  5. Well said my friend! Very well said indeed...

  6. JR, I hate to admit it, but some of the home made videos on "You tube" are pretty good. Better than a lot of the big production stuff on TV at least. Most of the You tube stuff is junk as well, but there are some that are really pretty good. Prospecting,hunting and trapping by everyday people, non scripted is hard to beat. Some you can tell right off are just making videos and have know idea what they are doing, others, I have learned a few tricks from. Anyway....
    I saw a trailer advertisement for Devil's Canyon a few days ago. It looks pretty good. I hope they do it right and not just more of the same. It would be nice to have something on TV worth watching.

  7. I too hope for the best on this one. After the Gold Rush disappointment I decided to put up some videos of my own on my youtube channel. Nothing fancy, just honest video of me either finding or not finding gold. Seems a novel idea, but it seems there IS an audience for it.

    Jim, I am glad to see you sticking it out with this blog. I have been following it for quite a few years now and there is some really good insight on here.

    Thank you,


  8. Well l, I'm sticking it out until January and then shutting 'er down. Ten years is enough for me.


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