It took close to 10 weeks to get an interview with Terry Grant himself, because I wanted to do something nobody else in Canada had done. Visit Terry in his home workshop and shoot the breeze about carpentry and his time on the show.
Having gained an address, I set off in my old car and found Grant waiting outside his shop outside High River, AB. He offered me a beer; we sat down and talked about carpentry. I even had the chance to watch him at work, as he fired up the scroll saw and put the finishing touches on a cabinet he was fond of.
While his two cats watched lazily from their perch curled up on a work bench, we talked for close to two hours about the show, what it meant for him to be a carpenter and many other topics.
The following article is the piece I wrote for the Reflector student newspaper. I hope you enjoy this post as much as I had when I interviewed Grant, the original Mantracker.
Long after the adrenaline of a chase subsides, Terry Grant, former 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.
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 was on the chase, he was 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, now that his time with Mantracker has finished, one thing is certain, 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.”
Terry Grant, star of Mantracker, decided to hang up his saddle and retire due to a contract dispute with Bonterra Productions.