“Hoffman Family Gold” – “HFG” – premiered on 25 March 2022 as the spin-off of the gold mining-focused TV show “Gold Rush,” which has aired on Discovery Channel since 3 December 2010 and followed crews seeking gold in Alaska, USA and the Klondike region in Yukon, Canada. The show focused on one, then two gold mining crews led by Hoffman’s gold mining business owners, Jack and Todd, although Todd’s son Hunter took the reins in the second season.

Hunter is the third-generation gold miner born on 4 March 1999 who inherited the gold rush from his grandparents, Jack and Georgia. They officially passed the torch to Todd, but never stopped sharing stories from their days as gold prospectors, which Hunter had listened to since childhood. That sparked his desire to be present during his father’s workdays, and debut as a cast member in “Gold Rush” in 2011.

Sadly, most people initially overlooked Hunter’s potential because he was young and immature. He proved himself over the next seven years, and it was evident that he had tenacity, ambition, and admired his father after appearing in over 45 episodes before he quit. Hunter also appeared in a few episodes of another spin-off, “Gold Rush: The Dirt,” between 2018 and 2022. However, he rose to prominence as part of his father’s mining crew in over 20 episodes of “HFG”. Here’s what happened to Hunter during that time.

He became a leader

The producers introduced Hunter in 2015 as ‘a 16-year-old, about to take his most significant role in the family business. He worked diligently, often did overtime, and slept in his truck to maximize the yield of the mining season. He disagreed with his father, as did many other employees, but expected special treatment when he suggested changes. Todd refused to budge, and viewed him as an inexperienced employee, not his son. Although Todd explained that he didn’t have the money or didn’t want to take a risk, Hunter began to resent his father.

That situation continued somewhat in the first season of “Hoffman Family Gold.” Realizing that he couldn’t keep going unless something changed, Hunter proposed getting a new wash plant, and borrowing half of the mining crew in the second season, which Todd approved. That was the right decision, as Hunter’s team significantly contributed to reaching the goal of 1,000 ounces or 28.5kgs at season’s end. It also brought the father and son closer and excited viewers to see the third season.

He was always there

Many people are surprised that Hunter joined “Gold Rush” in 2011, because he mostly spent time in the background; that changed in October 2015, when Discovery set aside more time for Hunter. The show’s narrator clarified that Hunter followed his father and grandfather from Oregon to Porcupine Creek in Alaska as a child, so he was used to working by their side. Hunter explained that he didn’t know if gold mining would be his career, but he felt knowledgeable enough to continue the family legacy. He continued to assist his father, and even began calling out potential mistakes. For instance, Hunter thought that his father was putting in the wrong conveyor in season eight while rebuilding the Monster Red wash plant; this machine separates gold dust from dirt and debris using water.

Todd didn’t reverse his decision, and the crew listened to their boss. That upset Hunter, and his father warned him that his advice could cost them a day of missed work. Todd ultimately had to admit that he put his son in charge, so he followed his guidance. However, he threatened to fire Hunter if he didn’t start the job in a day. Thankfully, Hunter succeeded, and gold began rolling in. When the crew members learned about the situation, they supported the 18-year-old, telling him that their older colleagues and family members also doubted them.

Hunter reluctantly returned

Some fans remember Todd quitting mining in 2018 to try his luck as a singer, and rest from being in the spotlight. However, he never gave up on mining gold, and revealed that he wanted to invest $1.5 million into a gold mining claim. Todd considered hiring a filming crew to capture the journey, letting him own all episodes, and sell or stream them on demand. He changed his mind in 2021 when he agreed to film “HFG,” mainly because he dug up about $10 million in gold during his time in “Gold Rush”, and because his father and son would join.

In the first episode, Todd announced, ‘Three years ago, I walked away from gold mining, a beaten man. Now, I’m going back to Alaska. I know it’s a long shot. It’s our last shot. But you know what? No guts, no glory.’ Three Hoffmans met with mine owner and long-time friend Jason Otteson, who invested a considerable amount into 2,500 acres or 10 square kilometers of land. Still, his mining business was about to collapse; Hoffmans offered their expertise and workforce, but only had seven weeks before the winter set in.

Consequently, Jason asked Todd to find $1 million in gold during the season; if he succeeded, Todd could lease the mining claim for free. Todd knew that it was the best gold producing mine he’d ever seen; if what he saw was accurate, he knew that his family could have a solid 20 to 30 years of work. Jack agreed, and only worried about telling his wife, as he was retired. Hunter, on the other hand, wasn’t so confident. He said that the last seasons were less profitable despite them working six to seven days a week, and that his father was tough on him, often forcing him to sleep in his truck because he didn’t want to confront him at home.

Hunter is a business owner

Hunter said that another reason for his shaky confidence was that he co-founded a business; he and his friend Nick had started a profitable gas line company that kept them busy. Furthermore, Hunter created a brand, Seven Cowboys, and began wearing the products, hats and hoodies, in the introductory episode of “Hoffman Family Gold.” Although Hunter has a website and an official Instagram page, @sevencowboys, he has yet to release the collection of hats, sweaters, crop tops, and hoodies. However, he announced the sale of some gold jewelry and hand-mined $650 gold nuggets.

Image source

Texas folklore and the stories about seven cowboys whose last names were Hoffman inspired the brand name. Some were gunslingers, while others were charming, unbelievably wise, or excellent at wrangling cattle with a lasso.

Hunter was happy to work with his grandfather but feared the conflicts with his father, and recognized that his father and grandfather also butted heads. Ultimately, Hunter agreed because he was tired of seeing his grandfather mow grass and waste his last years, and missed being in the field. Todd also learned that the previous mining crew could have done better.

For example, they only did one or two clean-ups and not as efficiently. That meant that the Hoffmans could take the stored dirt and debris, turn them into fine dust with machines, and then carry them to a separate room to extract gold from the muck. In other words, the Hoffmans knew that the crew’s inexperience hurt Jason’s profits, not the lack of gold. The work at The Mammoth Valley Mine after the Hoffmans decided to set up three wash plants and extract gold from dirt that had accumulated over five months. They separated 306.5 ounces or 8.7kgs from that muck, worth just over $500,000. That means they were already halfway to their goal of $1 million.

Completing the season

Hunter and his family researched the ground at the existing site, but their testing didn’t find enough gold. Sadly, it was too late to look for a ‘paydirt’ or gold-rich ground because it wouldn’t thaw out in time to be processed. Thus, they fired up the Big Trommel wash plant to continue work, but it kept breaking down; therefore, Todd nicknamed it Hot Mess. Thankfully, they had an experienced engineer and a young, ambitious welder, Sparky, to keep it running. They got the third wash plant running by the fifth episode, and revitalized the road system to speed up paydirt transport. Sadly, the Alaskan winter slowed their progress.

During that slowdown, a geologist informed Hunter of a fantastic gold deposit at the edge of their mining claim, so the young gold miner went to the Arctic tundra to see it. He knew that it was too late to start digging immediately, but the site was promising. The eighth episode, entitled “The Mother Lode,” showed the Hoffmans discovering an enormous vein of gold at the ancient riverbed, which they named ‘Test Site.’ They were ecstatic to dig there, and the crew measured their progress after the initial digs. The scale showed that they found 253 ounces or about 7kgs.

Unfortunately, a series of bad news items interrupted their cheers of joy. Another wash plant broke, their 350 rock truck had a faulty U-joint, and a rock tore its tire. That left them without transportation and reliant on Hot Mess while they waited for a new tire. The crew went fishing at the claim to relax, but everybody laughed at Hunter, who admitted that it was his first time. Thankfully, they pulled through in the last episode. After repairing the truck, the Hoffman family ultimately found 620 ounces or 17.5kgs of gold in seven weeks, 20 more than they needed. Besides taking home over a million, Todd would get the promised lease.

Going solo in season two

The Hoffmans accepted Jason’s offer, but told him that they needed better equipment in the following mining season. After hearing their concerns, Jason promised to raise enough money from investors, so the Hoffman family challenged themselves with a record-breaking goal of 1,000 ounces in one season, as 600 ounces was their break-even number. Todd said that he was ‘financially on a limb,’ but the stress didn’t end there.

Hunter confronted his father, pointing out that he never listened to his suggestions. He also said that their methods are too different to be compatible. Todd explained that ‘his bad attitude can start cancer in the camp and lead to an uproar,’ which was why he didn’t acknowledge his son’s suggestions. Hunter said that he could return, but would be miserable working under the old rules. Instead, he had an ambitious proposal; he wanted to operate a wash plant to celebrate his 10th official season in the field. Todd wasn’t ecstatic with the deal and pointed out the financial hardship of that method to Hunter.

The grandfather wisely butted in to remind them that they could double the yield with two crews. Jack also encouraged his grandson, telling him that he ‘was capable of taking charge, as he is far from a second-rate miner.’ Knowing that his father went all out, Hunter also proposed an alternative to ease the financial burden. He and his father ultimately agreed to set up two wash plants side-by-side, share crew members, and use the same pond and machines.

Things didn’t look good

The crew began the second season of “HFG” by researching the soil at the Z Plant and underneath the Hot Mess – they concluded that both had holes and practically leaked gold. They also arranged to quit all work if they hit 1,000 ounces early, as they wanted to avoid damaging the machines and doing extra labor. Todd set up a plant, Holy Roller, and Hunter went to the nearby town of Nome to acquire a wash  plant.

He named it Black Pearl, and fired it up in the fifth episode, but spent much time fixing all the issues with the pump and leakages. As soon as the problems stopped, Hunter challenged his father’s crew to see who would find more gold, and wanted to work night shifts to catch up. Sadly, a damaged waterline shut Black Pearl down before Hunter could get things started. Holy Roller also had many issues, so both crews suffered setbacks halfway through season two.

The seventh episode was exhilarating for the miners and people at home. Holy Roller had transmission issues, reducing its output, but Hunter’s team worked relentlessly at the new cut of the land. In the last few minutes, the narrator said that the group had their most significant weekly yield, crossing the planned 104-ounce or 3kgs mark. Todd’s team found 55 ounces, while Hunter’s located 56. Hunter beat his father for the first time while jointly finding 114 ounces, putting them at 482 ounces of the 1,000 with five weeks remaining.

They worked day and night

A grizzly attack, government intervention, and inspectors threatening to shut down the mine followed in episode eight. A rookie mistake put Holy Roller out of commission in the ninth, turning excitement into doubt. Todd increased the workload to catch up, doubling the team’s efforts as the Arctic winter set in. They began bringing dirt from another section, The Lost Cut, and the gold started to roll in until they found water in the fuel supply, forcing them to empty the tank. These problems forced them to rely on Hunter, as they needed 138 ounces or about 4kgs more to hit the goal. Sadly, the clutch on Black Pearl broke when the team needed it the most. They fixed Holy Roller in time and decided to run it non-stop; Hunter took the night shift until the clutch arrived.

A happy ending

As the season’s end drew closer, Hunter concluded that this was the most demanding mining season he’d had in over 10 years. However, he said that he learned the most about mining and himself, including working even harder, visualizing goals, and executing plans. Most importantly, Hunter finally felt that mining might become his career. After the team fixed Black Pearl, he felt more driven than ever; his father’s team excavated 79 ounces or 2.2kgs, while Hunter’s shattered the 60-ounce goal by extracting 82 ounces of gold. That marked another instance of Hunter beating his father, but no one was resentful; everyone cheered and hugged, as the two mining crews uncovered 1022 ounces or 29kgs together, and Hunter and Todd announced that they could sell the gold for about $1.7 million. Another important outcome was that Todd finally recognized his son’s independence, ambition, and growing knowledge. He admitted that he couldn’t have done it without Hunter’s leadership and his crew’s passion, a moment that many viewers undoubtedly viewed more than once.

Hunter replied that his father taught him to keep going, set the tone for the upcoming workload, and lead by example. The two shed tears, shook hands, and embraced. That’s when Todd asked Jack to close the second season with a group prayer to Jesus.

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