NEWS

Red Deer cowboy sells personal Mantracker experience

06/08/2015 02:21 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 05:59 EDT
"They all say the same thing: 'I saw you and my heart just jumped out of my chest.'"

With his easy laugh and laid-back attitude, it's hard to imagine fleeing in fear from Joel Martens — but that's exactly what his customers pay him for.

Martens is a Red Deer cowboy and the owner of Heritage Ranch, where he regularly takes his guests out to the bush and hunts them down in the spirit of television show Mantracker.

While he's familiar with the show, which first aired in 2006, Martens said his true motivation in trying it out first-hand came from a desire to get out of the office.

"I love riding and I found myself real tied up at the restaurant and doing other things here on the property, so it just gives me a good chance to get out and ride and have some fun."

Unlike the show, which sees the prey spend two days trying to get from point A to point B eluding capture, Martens' runners are released into a public parkland where they must collect four scattered flags without being caught. The 'prey' are given a 15-minute head start and the whole thing usually takes about two hours, he said.

"It gets pretty intense cause they've got a job to do and I've got a job to do."

In the past, he's seen a captured team member fake breathing problems just to give his friends a better chance to escape.

"But we (also) get a few where they just throw their partner under the bus and take off," he added with a laugh.

Martens has been running the hunts for three years, and said he sees more people seeking out the thrill of the chase each year. Some even show up in full camouflage or ghillie suits, he said.

"That's kind of tough to beat."

Martens, however, has his secret weapon: his three-year-old Morgan horse.

"My horse is amazing — he just loves the hunt. We get down to the trees and it's all him. He's on it and he picks up things I don't pick up on. Once in a while I'll give him a cue or I'll catch something, but quite often it's the horse doing the hunting."

And the horse isn't the only one who is thrilled by the hunt, said Martens.

"(There's) something about the chase that people just love — that rush of adrenaline."

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