Special to the Morning Star
He hasn’t filmed a show in three years but there are few who do not recognize Terry Grant as “the” Mantracker.
The soft-speaking, straight-talking tracking expert readily posed for pictures with a boy and his mom, a grown man, a trio of teenage girls, a young woman and a reporter while doing an interview beside the Shuswap River in Enderby.
Made famous by the popular television program, Grant currently offers his time as a public speaker – talking to 20,000 to 30,000 people annually at fundraisers, private functions, schools and public service organizations.
In Enderby for such an engagement this Thursday and Friday, he takes the ongoing Mantracker association in stride.
“It’s normally fun. I have to remember they are the people who got me where I am today,” he said. “To them I’m still Mantracker.”
As an example, he tells the story of doing an engagement at an elementary school where the staff thought the younger students might not know him. Yet when he walked past a Grade 1 classroom, a boy spotted him, yelled, “It’s Mantracker!” and ran out of the room to meet him, taking all of his classmates with him.
It is the kind of recognition that puts a rare smile on the long-time cowboy’s face.
Born in southern Ontario, riding horses since the age of eight and working as a cowboy since the age of 17 – his first job as a cowboy was at the Bar U Ranch before it became a national historical site – Grant came about his tracking skills naturally.
Transferring those skills from cows for a ranch to humans for television is something of a leap and it took Grant a bit of time to get the hang of it when he started the Mantracker series.
“We were pretty slow those first few shows. The cameraman doesn’t know how to track and half the time my guide didn’t either,” he said. “It was a little brutal but we got it figured out eventually.”
Grant points to Newfoundland and Labrador as the province with the toughest tracking terrain due to the lack of animals to thin out the underbrush, making it too thick to navigate through much of the time.
And Smithers, B.C. wins for being the worst for bugs; Grant recalls it as being “nasty.”
Grant enjoys sharing his skills with others because he sees tracking as a dying art. He said few people today have the ability to navigate, a crucial skill while in the backwoods or anywhere.
“People need to know how to read a map and compass. Most people have no clue. You can get a long way in the bush and in the world if you’ve got a map and a compass.”
Grant will “teach a little tracking” at several workshops in Enderby for students and adults where he will explain how to “know your land; know your prey”.
“I lay down a set of tracks and they have to figure what I’ve done and where I’ve gone,” Grant explained. “We don’t go far but they learn a lot.”
He said tracking is about creating a profile of your prey to understand what they will do and reading the terrain to determine what it will make the prey do.
Tight with personal information, Grant will not reveal his marital status, but asked what kind of woman he prefers, he answered, “All of them.”
The 55-year-old shares his story and will answer questions at M.V. Beattie Elementary School today at 7 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults, $6 for ages 10-17 and free for kids nine and under when accompanied by a paying adult.