Paul Behm and Fred Hurt pursued their dreams of adventure through gold mining, and ended up on the set of a cable television show.
The two Minot men will be in some upcoming episodes of Discovery Channel's "Gold Rush Alaska," a series airing at 9 p.m. Fridays. Hurt, known on the show as "Dakota Fred," was on hand to give advice to the newer miners.
"On the show, I'm giving my advice and my opinion, and they did take most of my recommendations. They were green as could be but so were we when we first went up there," Hurt said.
Submitted Photo • Paul Behm of Minot holds up gold that he found with Fred Hurt working a claim in Alaska.
Submitted Photo • Fred Hurt of Minot shows a pan of gold he found on a claim in Alaska.
When Behm and Hurt first decided to pursue gold mining in 2004, they were just exploring and checking out different areas in Alaska. They came upon a claim owned by Earl Foster in the Porcupine Creek area, and began to work on Foster's claims. One of Foster's claims was recently leased by some miners from Oregon, who are the feature subjects of the "Gold Rush Alaska" show.
"The owner lives in Anchorage and wanted to see his claim so we drove him out there. That's how we got involved in some of the scenes on 'Gold Rush,'" Behm said.
For Behm and Hurt, careful planning and background experience helped them get their start in mining.
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"There is a living to be made in gold mining, but you had better do your homework and have the background experience. You need to have a mechanical background, you need to know how to weld, how to drive and operate heavy equipment," Hurt said.
"We have found a fair amount of gold but it takes time. We had the right equipment for digging at first but our processors were taking a beating digging through the huge boulders. We had a lot of breakdowns that first year," Behm said.
"We learned a lot from other people and some of the old-timers made suggestions," he added.
Besides doing some mining in Alaska, the two have mined in Wyoming, Montana and Nevada. After branching out to other areas, the draw to come back to Alaska was still there the scenery, the history of the area and the people they met kept them coming back.
"It's worth it to go just for the incredible scenery. I never get tired of it. Every year I go up there, I'm still just awestruck by the immensity of the whole area. The camera can't catch it," Hurt said.
"They're all interesting people up there, too. You don't have mediocre people around the mining business. Many are somewhat eccentric which makes them interesting I think," he added.
"It's just a rush to dig and find the gold, and to learn about the history up there and see the scenery," Behm said.
Gold mining for Behm was something he'd always wanted to try.
"As a teenager pumping gas at the family business every spring, I would see these guys that were heading to Alaska. I always wanted to go up there and now that my son is involved in the business, I had more time to pursue it," Behm said.
"This was just one of those things on our 'bucket list,' one of those things you want to try before it's too late. Even if people can just get to Alaska, they should go just to see it," he added.
In addition to mining, the two pursue other interests enjoying auctions, travel, and time with friends and family. Both are still involved in working at Behm's Truck Stop as well.
"Retirement? What's that? I want to do as much as I can while I still can," Hurt said.
"We hope the 'Gold Rush' show will inspire people who would dare to do something different with their lives, to go ahead and do it," he added.