Your Mantracker Questions, Answered

BY VINCENZO RAVINA

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There are many questions surrounding the strange and elusive Mantracker. Many of you have asked your questions into The Google and it has brought you here. Good. This is where you will learn it all. All of the truth.

This is POLARGRIZZ Dot Com's Mantracker Questions and Answers SuperPost™.

Let’s start with the most burning questions.

Why did Terry Grant leave Mantracker?

That’s the mystery. He’s never said, exactly.

There was some kind of contract dispute. In a CBC interview, Grant says, “Basically my wages were withheld and, you know, I had to do one of two things, and I resigned.”

In a Toronto Sun article: “His TV trail boss in Toronto says Grant quit. The cowboy says he had no choice. The details are lost in mudslinging, though Grant insists he wasn’t asking for a raise in his $84,000 annual grubstake.”

In the same article, Grant says his leaving the show was “a matter of principle.”

The Calgary Herald quotes Grant as saying it was “just a bunch of little stuff” and had nothing to do with money.

The same article quotes Mantracker creator Ihor Macijiwsky: “(Grant) informed us he didn’t want to do it anymore…. I can assure you… I did not go to him and say ‘We don’t want you working here anymore.’”

More recently, in the Leader Post, Grant says, “Some day I’m going to tell my side of the story. The producer didn’t really end it on the proper note.”

What does Terry Grant think of Chad “Savage” Lenz’s Mantracking?

"I was not impressed, to say the least," Grant says to the Leader Post. “(Lenz) did not convey tracking the way it should be done.”

During the chases, can’t the Mantracker just look for the camera crew to catch the prey?

The prey travel as three people. Two contestants and one cameraperson. The cameraperson stays hidden with the prey. The people who operate the cameras are very experienced in the outdoors, much more so than the prey typically are.

Shane Doan was prey on the show. He explains to the Buffalo News:

"It’s really legit," Doan said. "People are like, ‘Well, how do they not see the cameraman?’ and different stuff like that. The way that they do it for the most part is there was one cameraman with each unit. They follow you the whole time. The two guys that are with you – Lawrence [Foster] and Shifty [Mike Schaffel] were the two guys; Lawrence was with us, Shifty was with Terry – they’re unbelievable. You can’t believe how good they are, how fast they are and how he stays with you."

This question is, I believe, the result of a misconception. When you’re watching Mantracker on TV, there are all these improbably perfect shots of the action, and you think, “Clearly Mantracker can see the cameraman. He’s standing RIGHT THERE.”

So, the real question is…

How do the camera people get all those great shots without being seen? How do they get ahead of the prey for shots of them jumping over fences or something?

After the chase, the producers will identify portions of the chase for which there is no footage or poor footage. Those portions of the chase, not affecting the outcome, will be reenacted by the prey and Mantracker.

In an interview with the Haliburton County Horseman’s Association, Terry Grant says, “It never changes the outcome of the race, but we need more footage of certain things that happen… so we’ll go back there and we might have to do a loping scene four times.”

From Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine:

The hunt takes two days, Grant explains, “and whatever happens, happens.” The cameramen are shooting on the fly and they make note of the shots they’ll want to recreate. After the chase is over, the crew and participants go back to the noted locations - which are generally gorgeous - and reshoot some segments to get better footage.

“The outcome is still the same and there’s no ‘Hollywood glamorization’ — we film exactly what happened,” adds Grant, matter-of-factly.

Shane Doan tells the Buffalo News:

"At the end of the chase (the camerapeople) go through their footage. Every time there’s something of significance that happens, they hit a GPS thing on their camera. For four days afterwards, you return to where they hit their GPS, and they watch the video. They’ll be like, ‘OK, you came past that tree there, you came down this path. It looks like you came around this bush, and you stopped right there. All right, you ran across that creek and then up that side.’

According to an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit with a former prey:

You have two Cameramen with you, one with a shoulder mounted HD steady cam, and another with a small hand held HD cam. They are both dressed in full camouflage and have shot every single episode of the six seasons of Mantracker. They are both experts at what they do. Both of them are ‘Adventure Racers’, which are endurance races that can last up to 10 days at a time. Needless to say, they are ‘faster, better, stronger’ than you. If you drop down to hide, they drop. If you sprint indefinitely through the forest, they are with you. Anything you do, they do. For my episode, I am 100% confident that any time Mantracker saw us it was because of only us and not the cameramen. However, they do leave footprints — but so do you. The truth is you are going to be leaving footprints no matter what. This didn’t bother me. (For the record, both the Cameramen are really good guys too.)

What about the helicopter shots? Couldn’t Mantracker just follow the helicopter?

Helicopter shots are also shot after the chase. According to Mike “Shifty” Schaffel, a cameraman on the show: “The helicopter stuff is done after. Too noisy during the chase.”

If experienced orienteers were the prey, wouldn’t they win every time?

Mike “Shifty” Schaffel, a cameraman who works on the show, chimed into an online discussion about this:

I think we are all in agreement that an accomplished orienteer/AR will (should) win every time. But that is not the main reason they are passed over. 1st & foremost - the prey have to be interesting/watchable. The audience must connect with them - either love them or hate them, but nothing in between. Being nice just won’t cut it. But nice and funny…absolutely! or complete dolts.

Also, the show is a theatrical way to demonstrate the art of the Tracker. If the prey were to just blitz the course through the bush, there’s less ability to do that. As the producers say “It’s a chase, not a race”. We had 2 prey who had done some AR, the show turned out to be almost unusable.

I think the only way to make the show interesting using orienteers would be if they used their skills to obfuscate their route, circle, double back, split up and rejoin at certain junctions. In other words, use all their skills to elude MT, while still keeping fairly close contact. This would put themselves at risk of capture, but would make the episode interesting to the viewer. It would also showcase the abilities of an accomplished orienteer.

Basically, the show is about Mantracker VS. regular people. Not people like him.

How are the chase location and the start/finish lines chosen?

They are chosen by Lawrence Foster.

From the official Mantracker website:

Lawrence Foster is a seasoned veteran of the outdoors. In addition to being a very strong and accomplished athlete, Lawrence has lead expeditions, rope rescue teams and military units. He’s been called Canada’s best adventure racer and has lead his Canadian team to unprecedented achievement in the world’s toughest races such as Eco Challenge.

… He maps out the chase start and end points, and painstakingly tests each potential route to ensure the terrain is equally balanced for man and beast. Lawrence has described the chase routes as being like living video games, with each stage getting more and more challenging for the prey. When the chase is on, he stays with the prey, and captures every moment on camera.

What are the rules of Mantracker?

THERE ARE NO RULES. No, actually, it seems like there a few rules, but not many.

1. You probably can’t kill Mantracker or his horse. Or harm either of them. No violence.

Several prey have used tripwires, and one woman brought a slingshot, which she aimed at Mantracker’s head. According to a former prey who did an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit: “They actually brought (that slingshot woman) up when telling us we couldn’t bring weapons. She is a bit of an ongoing joke between the crew.”

2. No GPS or electronics. Nothing that can help you navigate other than a map and compass.

Other than that, it seems like you can bring whatever you like. Mountain lion urine, electronics that emit a weird horse-distracting noise, etc.

Let us know if we missed any Mantracker rules in the comments.

Why doesn’t Mantracker catch anyone on the first day?

According to an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit with a former prey:

They told us for the first few seasons they purposefully didn’t catch anyone for the first day because they wouldn’t have enough footage for a full episode. They more encouraged Mantracker to scare the contestants and learn their tactics. But in our season, they openly said that because of the backlash from the audience about this, Mantracker ‘had the green light’ to catch someone on the first day. I’ll tell you one thing, I really didn’t want to be the first person to get caught on the first day… definitely put some fire under our boots.

Near as I can tell, Mantracker has never caught his prey on the first day.

Why don’t the prey travel at night?

According to an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit with a former prey:

We were really pumped up to go throughout the night and outsmart Mantracker. We were so confused why no one had done it before. But here is the thing: there definitely is an unspoken rule that you can’t travel throughout the night. They tell you that ‘officially you’re allowed’ but then follow that up with ‘if you do that, our cameramen won’t be able to follow you, it will be too dark to film, and basically we won’t have a show that is good enough to go on TV. Your family and friends will be pretty disappoint about that. If you get to the finish line overnight without any conflict with Mantracker, where is the drama for the TV audience?’. And you have to agree with them. The episode wouldn’t be good. Without the tension of Mantracker chasing you, it would be a total dud. But…. we were definitely still revved up enough at the end of the day to travel the entire night.

Does Mantracker use his own horse?

Horses are provided by local ranches, wherever the chase is being held.

From Canadian Cowboy Country Magazine: “The production team … scouts the horses and their choices have sometimes been … interesting. (Grant’s) tracked on everything from well-trained ranch horses to half-broke Belgians. ‘I definitely prefer the ranch horses,’ he laughs.”

How does Mantracker know what he knows?

The true and only Mantracker, Terry Grant, has honed his tracking skills by trailing and gathering cattle in Alberta. He works with Foothills Search and Rescue to find those buttonheads who get lost in his province. You can find a more full biography at his website.

The second Mantracker, Chad “Savage” Lenz, is a professional hunter. He regularly tracks animals so that he can shoot them. He resists the urge to shoot his human prey on Mantracker, though. You can find a more full biography at his website.

Chad Savage? Chad Lenz? Chad “Savage” Lenz?

The second Mantracker is named Chad Lenz. According to his official website:He has always been very successful in the woods, honing his tracking and outdoor skills to new levels, and as such, his early hunting buddies gave him the nickname ‘SAVAGE.’”

His business is called Savage Encounters, and presumably the Mantracker producers thought Chad Savage sounded like a better tracker name than Chad Lenz. Or Chad wanted a showbiz name to separate his Mantracker character from his real life self. </speculation>

What do the prey win if they reach the finish line without being caught?

They are allowed to live.

Bragging rights and the experience. That’s it.

What does Terry Grant do, now that he’s not on the show?

He’s a tracking consultant. He does woodworking for fun. He wrote a book about tracking. Visit his website.

Did Mantracker do a Caramilk commercial?

Hells to the yes.

Is there video of Mantracker peeking out from behind a tree with a serious expression on his face, but then he breaks into a good-natured smile?

Yes.

Did we miss any questions? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll do our best to TRACK DOWN some answers.

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Vincenzo Ravina is a freelance writer from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Website. Twitter.

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    Why doesn’t this have more notes?
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