“Can you believe it’s gone seven years?” Dave Turin asks. He’s talking about Discovery Channel’s hit series Gold Rush that starts its seventh season this Friday (Oct. 14 at 9pm ET/PT). “ I remember Season 1 and thinking nobody had any idea. We had no clue that the show was going to be any good or successful.”
We didn’t either. We had no clue what a sluice box was or what kind of money you could make mining. We had no idea of all the headaches involved in the equipment. Nor did we anticipate being scared of hell of this Norwegian that required subtitles; or that we would fall in love with an elderly gentleman known as Grandpa John. But Discovery Channel quickly claimed victory over Friday nights as Gold Rush became their juggernaut – consistently holding its spot as Discovery Channel’s No. 1 series year over year. The series has introduced millions of viewers to the Klondike and the race for gold, as well as the personalities, opportunities, dangers and constant equipment malfunctions that go along with it.
Turin has been Todd Hoffman’s right-hand man since the start. The fellow Oregonian has faithfully followed the Hoffman crew to Alaska and the Yukon and even on one ill-fated trip to mine for diamonds in the rain forests of Guyana. This season Team Hoffman is staying home — well, staying in their home state mining in Eastern Oregon at High Bar Mine, which is about a six-hour car ride from Turin’s home.
“It was a very difficult decision for us,” Turin says of Team Hoffman’s decision to stay in Oregon. “We all came together, and we all talked about it. We left our most successful season ever. We dug up 3,030 ounces, over 3 million dollar’s worth of gold. We all put gold in our pocket. The gold that we dig up, I don’t know about any of the other crews, but I do know that the gold that we get is meaningful. It means a lot in all of the crews’ life. We got guys with young kids. We got guys with kids in college. That gold is enough gold that it significantly impacts their life. For us to leave the most successful season, we had the most gold that we’d ever gotten, and each one of us personally, we walked away from last season with a lot of gold in our pocket.”
So why on God’s green Earth would they ever leave? Oh wait, it’s the Hoffmans – we should know better, right?
“The reason we left, Barb, is gold mining is a tough job,” Turin says. “We were working 15, 16 hours a day, six days a week, in a really difficult, difficult environment in the Yukon territory. The worst thing for us is we’re all family men, and it was so hard to be away from our families. Todd is the dreamer. Todd is the guy that’s always chasing the next best thing, so for us to go to Oregon and be closer to our families, it was kind of like a no-brainer. When we went and prospected, oh my gosh, the prospecting was as good as I’ve ever seen it, and we have traveled the world prospecting. We went to Guyana. We went to Chile. We went to Peru. I’ve looked around. I’ve been into Alaska. I’ve been into Nome and Fairbanks, and this was, in Oregon, was one of the best prospects I had been on. For us, it was a no-brainer. We’re closer to our families. We’re in our home state, and there’s good gold.”
Despite their high hopes and thinking they were going to give Parker a run for his money, what happened they didn’t see coming.
“We went into the season, we were on a high like this is going to be our best season ever. It’s Season 7; we’re going to kill it. We’re going to give Parker a run for his money,” Turin says. “Todd set the lofty goal that was something that I thought he was nuts [an ambitious 5,000 ounce goal, which is more than 2,000 ounces than his best total ever!]. Anyways, he went out on a limb, sets his very lofty goal, and we start mining. What we find out, what you’ll see on the TV is that we ended up — in the middle of the season — we end up with some problems. It’s problems that I couldn’t foresee. Todd couldn’t foresee it. We couldn’t plan for it, and what happened was we started to come apart from inside.”
“It’s like if you had a baseball team that just won the pennant. The next season they come back, they have high hopes, and there’s squabbling in the clubhouse. There’s issues with personnel, and that’s what happens to us,” he admits. “Our tight-knit little family starts to crumble. We start out high … and then in the middle of the season, we have this valley. I lived through it and I’m one of the leaders of the group, and it was one of the hardest months that I’ve ever had because there’s a lot of bickering. These guys are family, and we start coming apart at the seams.”
Season 7 of Gold Rush begins on Discovery Channel Friday, Oct. 14 at 9pmET.