As the Klondike winter closes in exhaustion and frustration fuels many of the mining teams in the Gold Rush season finale. Season 5 could be summarized as the season where “enough was never enough.” For Parker and the Hoffman team, despite meeting their goals, they still fall short in the eyes of their bosses. Both men are asking their teams to make one last push for more ounces, as Parker is looking to get out from Tony Beets and Todd Hoffman wants to secure land for the 2016 season. We talked to Todd Hoffman earlier this week about the season finale on Friday, March 6, which begins with The Dirt at 8pm ET/PT, Gold Rush Season 5 finale at 9pm ET/PT, and then an After Show at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery.
Hoffman is never short on words or calling things as they are — right, wrong or indifferent. Here he gives us some thoughts on how things went down this season and what’s in store for the future.
While the Hoffman team reached their goal of 1,000 ounces, their claim owner Peter Taulman wanted more. We say – how is that fair? Todd says we need to understand the bigger picture …
ToWell, I already know what happened. The thing is that it wasn’t so much that he was trying to be mean. It’s that he had something in his hand he wanted to give us, which was a way bigger opportunity than what we had sitting there in front of us. To be able to do that, his bosses required more than 1,000, so I think he was disappointed and then obviously we were disappointed because there wasn’t anything in writing that said we had to get so much. It was in writing that we had to get at least 1-500. What you’ll see is it will all come together and you’ll understand what I’m talking about on Friday.
… You’ll see how we deal with it. It’s going to be kind of crazy because getting another 300 ounces that late in the season, it was kind of looking at it like a mountain you couldn’t climb, you know?
The task to come up with another 300 ounces certainly sees impossible as the ground is starting to freeze. When Dave Turin has what we think is some sort of epiphany — working the road — we think, why didn’t you do that earlier? Todd reminds that we need to understand the bigger picture …
Well, in the back of your head you kind of know [gold is under the road] but it’s not something that you talk about. It’s your only way in and out of there. The reason why a lot of us are late this year, why my team was late is we had to build miles and miles of road to get into our camp. All I had was a little dirt track or trail. It had never had big, heavy tanker trucks full of diesel. That’s the big difference. There are a lot of places you can drive with your car that you can’t take a tanker truck with a trailer with tens of thousands of pounds of fuel. That’s what we had to do. We had to build that road in there. To rip up any road, even though you know there’s some pay dirt under it is something that you just don’t even bring up. Dave knows it’s there. I know it’s there. It’s just pretty painful to try to run the road, you know what I mean?
… We just started building this road. It was frustrating. Parts of the road took a lot longer because they kept sinking into the tundra. There’s part of our road that has 8 feet of rock in the ground before it stops sinking. It’s horrible. When you’re up there, building a road across tundra is a nightmare. We experienced that.
What also is painful is pushing your team to work harder, faster and longer, where we saw varied approaches to that from Todd, Parker and Tony. Todd sees working with his team differently …
My guys work super hard but I don’t drive them to the brink of hating me. I don’t go through 20 guys a season like Parker does. These guys are my family, so we just kind of work together and work as hard as we can. In the end, I don’t want them going anywhere. They’re my family.
What does Todd credit for his success having such a late start to the season? If you know the Hoffmans, of course, it’s God and the people he works with.
We got lucky with a lot of things and I think God gave me an opportunity to give it a shot. My guys are just trying to make the best of it. It wasn’t perfect. I’m not a perfect boss and they’re not perfect workers. We’re not a perfect team but we would do have a safe and a love that’s different than any other team on the Klondike … you see that.
… We were excited. I think we had an opportunity. We got land. The best drill holes we had were down on that riverbed. The areas that we had to mine, I was really, really nervous because I didn’t think we’d even get to 1,000 because we’re mining down at $10, $12 a yard. I had a drill hole where we started where Dave couldn’t get through that iced-off river, and drill holes down there are $20-$30 a yard. It was really nerve-wracking even to get to this. I think a lot of it was in Andy’s wheelhouse. I got a superstar, Andy. He just works so hard and he turned our guys into a team.
He just really, really did good. We were able to just move the yardage. Once we started going, we knew we were behind but once we started going, we just started running dirt and moving it.
Five years ago Todd and his dad, Jack Hoffman, set out to make themselves millionaires, so where do they stand today?
Well, sorry I can’t say but I’ll tell you this, my team, my guys get more gold and are paid the best probably than any of the workers in the Klondike. They might show Parker giving a little bit of gold here and there … I give out as much as I can to my guys. We just live. It’s not BS philosophy you live by. Your guys take a risk with you and if you are truly family then you give it more gold. You just don’t treat them like an employee. These are the people that are helping raise your kids. These are the people that you’re trusting with your life, you know? … It’s a different philosophy of living and I think it’s the best, best philosophy.