Jesse Tomes was once the prey on Mantracker, the reality television series where an expert tracker pursues two individuals in the Canadian or American wilderness.
The pursued need to elude capture while attempting to reach a finish line within 36 hours.
Tomes, the new general manager at Alberni Outpost in Courtenay, appeared during Season 3 when Terry Grant still starred in the show as Mantracker. Tomes nearly eluded capture but Grant finally cornered him not far from the finish “in the middle of nowhere,” somewhere near the Saskatchewan/Montana border.
“It was devastating and hilarious all at the same time,” said Tomes, 32, who was caught on the same path through which Sitting Bull was marched in the Battle of Little Big Horn.
“After they eventually caught him, they rode him right through that same trail that I got caught on. It was kind of nostalgic and it left a funny feeling inside me. It almost makes you think about pre-destination sometimes.”
At an early age when he lived in Burlington, Ont., Tomes learned to track, catch snakes and develop outdoor skills.
“It all came together in terms of skills and knowhow,” he said. “It (Mantracker) seemed like a natural fit.”
Tomes had met Mantracker creator Ihor Macijiwsky about four years before doing the show. At the time he was touring with a band. At first he declined an offer to appear on TV, but relented a year later when Macijiwsky asked him again.
An audition was not required, but Tomes needed to go through an interview and background investigation. He also submitted an audition tape showcasing his outdoor skill.
The show was taped in 2005 and aired the following year.
Tomes later moved to B.C., eventually working his way to the Island. He was a Search and Rescue volunteer in Nanaimo, where he was a manager at SportChek before joining Alberni Outpost this weekend.
He hopes to settle in the Valley, where he enjoys tracking and filming wildlife in his spare time.