Fred Hurt has become famous due to the rise in popularity of the Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush”. He often appears alongside his son Dustin, but their relationship is fraught with tension. A modern-day treasure hunter, Hurt spends his time strategizing and mining to turn a magnificent profit. Despite his colorful personality and savvy business attitude, the show sometimes portrays him as a villain, but ultimately, he is only trying to make money. Fred Hurt was not always destined for a life in the mines, spending an errant youth fishing and avoiding school, his dedication and commitment has seen him become a significant name in the gold mining industry.
Early Life and Family
Fred Hurt was born on 10 July 1943, in North Dakota, USA. Due to his age, there has been very little focus on his family and parents. Fred Hurt’s first love and hobby was fishing; he could spend hours with his fishing rod at the waterside, to the exclusion of all else. At one point, his affection for the water and water activities, such as diving, led him to consider a career in marine biology. When Hurt realized that this was not exactly a lucrative career choice, he abandoned it in search of a career that set him up more comfortably.
His dedication to fishing saw Hurt’s school grades suffer severely. By the time he entered high school, he realized that if he were to reach the place he wanted to, he would have to put more effort into his schoolwork.
He was able to improve his grades throughout high school, and Fred subsequently attended college for a time, taking several geology classes, which first introduced him to the idea of gold mining.
Construction and Commercial Diving
Fred started his career as a commercial diver off the Gulf of Mexico. This combined his love of water with work, and provided him with skills that would later come in handy during his work as a gold miner. It was here that he learned about underwater construction, which is similar in some ways to the support systems required for underground mining, demolition, and salvage. He was so successful in this industry that he eventually owned his own construction company for 25 years.
Fred retired in 2004, but he was soon to realize that this was merely a transition from one industry to another.
The beginning of Hurt’s career in gold mining was not the glamour and success he had anticipated. In truth, he had several very unsuccessful seasons in Porcupine and Caribou Creek, which sent him searching for more promising frontiers. After spending time in Wyoming, Nevada and Montana with very little to show for his efforts, Hurt returned to Alaska in 2008, and here his luck began to change. Fred based himself by Little Squaw Lake, and played a significant role in the creation and operating of a gold processing plant, an experience that further solidified his dedication to his craft.
His potential was finally realized when he unearthed 600 ounces of gold in a single season at this new location.
The show “Gold Rush” premiered on 10 December 2010, and is still running to the present day. The show follows the careers of gold miners like Fred, documenting their battles and successes to the delight of worldwide audiences. Fred Hurt first appeared on the show in 2010, after he purchased the rights to a piece of land that another miner had failed to pay the lease on. That season he extracted 80.4 ounces of gold, which may have appeared measly to other miners, but was impressive when the manpower he had is taken into consideration. The next season, he and his newly formed team, The Dakota Boys, unearthed an impressive 803.02 ounces – almost ten times the amount of the previous season.
Fred Hurt branched out in 2015 to star in his own series, “All that Glitters”, which followed the exploits of Fred and his son Dustin as they attempted to find the crock of gold at the bottom of a waterfall. Hurt’s history with water served him well, and he went on to appear in another Discovery channel spin-off – “Gold Rush: White Water” – which ran from 2018 to 2020. The show explores the Dakota team’s unconventional gold mining using a technique called suction dredge diving.
There were disagreements with the directors of “Gold Rush”, which led to Fred and Dustin’s non-appearance on the show during the fifth season. This was largely due to the immense monetary toll that the show was having on Hurt’s life. Hurt explained to the public that ‘I am a working-class man,’ and that the show was putting him into financial deficit. He also addressed the directors of the show saying, ‘If you want a miner, call me…….if you want an Actor, pay me like one.’
Fred Hurt’s personal life is eventful, and he has a large and growing family. He has been married three times for what he boasts is a collective 42 years. There is no information about his first wife, their relationship predating the show. His second wife Lorrayne Frances Leier Hurt was an avid collector, and loved to frequent auctions. The two were apparently deeply in love, and together contributed to several civic organizations. Lorrayne suffered from an unspecified illness that worsened over time, and eventually led to her death on 5 February 2015.
Fred married again, this time to long-time friend Jennifer Sheets, who had supported him as he grieved for his previous wife. The two married on 30 July 2016 at the Letnikof Caves, Haines, and their wedding was officiated by one of Hurt’s sons.
The two are apparently happily married and she often appears alongside her husband on the show, providing support for his team.
Fred Hurt is older than he appears, and has 15 direct descendants – five great-grandchildren, six grandchildren, and four biological children. In addition, he has also become the stepfather to the children of his current wife, Jennifer Sheets. Hurt’s eldest daughter, Darla Matlock, lives and works in Texas where she is a real estate agent. The youngest daughter Shannon Hurt Rodrigue is married to Gary Rodrigue and also lives in Texas. Aside from his daughters, he has two sons, one of whom is a pastor and officiated at his latest wedding, but whose name remains unknown.
Perhaps most famous of all his children is his son Dustin Hurt; he started out working as a wildland firefighter for the Californian Forestry Service. He has always been exceptionally determined, and was known for his bravery on the scene of fires. Although he appears frequently in “Gold Rush” alongside his father, he still enjoys activities such as hiking and snowboarding. Dustin is married to Arin Alhum Hanson with whom he is expecting a child.
Fred has aged exceptionally well, and people are often surprised when they hear his age. He underwent a dramatic weight loss due to the physical demands of the gold mining industry, and is now slim and muscular. Fred has a full head of white hair, and sometimes sports a mustache and beard.
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Fred’s left leg is misshapen and 4ins shorter than his right leg; while he wears two inch inserts in his left boot, he is reluctant to share the story of what caused this, but which hasn’t stopped him from spurring on the speculation, and telling tall tales of what occurred, all of which he has confirmed as untrue.
Net Worth and Salary
By his own admission, Fred Hurt is not a rich man, but this is not to say that he does not live comfortably. While he has a net worth of $6 million, a significant portion of his funds go towards keeping his business afloat, funding mining expeditions, and on leasing land to mine. Financial difficulties are actually what led Fred Hurt to leave “Gold Rush”, which he felt was underpaying him for his efforts and appearances.