Terry Grant balances hardcore with hardwood
by Kevin Rushworth
Long after the adrenaline of a chase subsides, Terry Grant, star of Outdoor Life Network’s television series Mantracker, switches his trademark black cowboy hat and Wranglers for carpentry tools in his workshop outside High River.
Just as enthusiasts thought they had begun to understand the man behind the tracker, Grant’s hobby and side-business as a carpenter and cabinetmaker has both surprised and intrigued fans of the popular show.
On Mantracker, people called the “prey” are let loose in the wilderness with a map, compass and a head start. They have 36 hours to beat the tracker — who is on horseback — to a finish line 40 kilometres away.
“It is quite a big surprise to folks,” Grant said, as he sat behind his workbench, “when I’m … speaking somewhere, (the fans) ask me what I do in my spare time, rather than cowboying and search and rescue. Then I tell them that I’m a carpenter and I build custom furniture and they’re all totally amazed.”
Grant, who was born in Collingwood, Ont., said it’s hard for anyone to pinpoint a person’s career based on how he or she looks.
“There’s nobody walking down the street and you can look at and say, ‘he’s an accountant or he’s a carpenter,’ ” he said. “We all have lives that nobody knows about and this is mine.”
Grant, 52, who has been woodworking his entire life, helped build his first house at age 13. For him, the best aspects of carpentry are starting with a piece of plywood and constructing something out of nothing.
When it comes down to the show, Grant said the person seen on reality television is the same as himself in ‘real life.’ He explained that when he is on the chase, he is not there to have fun and he is very intense.
“When I’m not on the show, I do have some fun,” he said. “I do actually laugh once in a while. The ‘prey’ meet me after the show and I tell jokes and I laugh with everybody else. They’re just amazed. This is who I am.”
Even Grant himself finds it strange that he is a carpenter with extensive tracking experience. Recently, he even trained the British army in a course on track awareness out of Suffield, Alta.
“In my spare time, I’m a carpenter, but I spent 40 years in the bush, doing the tracking and cowboying,” he said. “This is kind of my hobby. It’s a real ‘wow’ to me to be able to teach somebody like the army or a bunch of cadets or boy scouts.”
However, with the success of the show, Grant, said that everybody looks at him differently now. While he can walk down the street in High River and be seen as Terry Grant the carpenter, he said Calgary is a different story. There, he is known as Mantracker.
“I used to just be a guy walking down the street,” he said. “Nobody knew I was a cowboy, nobody knew I was a carpenter. Now, everybody looks at me and they see that guy on T.V. It’s kind of different.”
When not woodworking or traveling for the show, Grant said he helps his neighbours chase cows, rides his horse and goes hunting in the fall. But, one thing is certain, when the show is done, he said he will continue building furniture.
“I think the carpentry thing will keep going for a long time,” he said. “It’s something all of us old folks do. If we have a shop full of tools, we’re going to be out here puttering about for a long time.”
Recently, Terry Grant, star of Mantracker, decided to hang up his saddle and “retire” due to a contract dispute with Bonterra Productions. The search for a new Mantracker begins. For more information check out the Calgary Herald article on Terry Grant