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Curt Grimm, Marathon Hunter

May 23, 2013
By Ralph Scherder - OVO PA Field Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Biathlons combine running and shooting skills, and Curt Grimm, 64, of Midland, PA, entered his first one over 30 years ago. His wife Cindy also competed in the event and won the ladies division. Curt finished strong in the men's race. Suddenly Grimm was hit with the idea, what if it was possible to combine his love of hunting with his love of running?

It wasn't the first time he'd considered the possibilities, though. Several years earlier, while hunting whitetails, Grimm watched from his treestand as a red fox hunted the surrounding area. "He moved between the brush piles, back and forth," says Grimm. "He'd pounce on a brush pile and then stop, watch, and listen. He worked the area for awhile and then moved on." It gave Grimm the ideas he needed to create a whole new style of "running and gunning."

His first attempts putting the method into action proved immediate results. Grimm ran down into an area, jumped on a brush pile and waited. Immediately a nice 12-point buck stood up from where it was bedded. "It just stood there," Grimm says. "That's when I was hooked. Deer almost always look back to see what's causing the commotion, and if you can capitalize on that two or three seconds before they bolt, you can get them."

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The Marathon Runner’s hunting vest includes extra hand-sewn pockets that are marked for convenience in the field.

And his shot/kill rate is pretty darn good, as evidenced by the number of mounts on his wall, including a number of nice whitetails, coyotes, and turkeys. "The trick to shooting under those circumstances is controlled movement," says Grimm.

"Many guys, when they're putting on drives or still hunting or moving through the woods, try to keep their body still for a shot. Their heart rate has increased, they're out of breath from climbing a hill or whatever. What happens? Their gun moves all around and the cross-hairs won't stay on target.

"In that situation, it's almost impossible to keep the gun steady, so I try to control that by moving my body. As I shoulder the gun, I move into the shot, and that controlled movement enables me to lock on target a lot easier. It's the same method used in the shooting phase of biathlons."

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"I think you have to incorporate it with something else, like combining the running with the hunting, and that helps keep you focused. Pretty soon you don't even realize how many miles you've run or how many days you've spent in the woods.

Of course, safety is always paramount. Grimm never actually runs with a loaded gun. As he sets out to hunt an area, he carries the unloaded weapon in his right hand. He knows his weapon inside out, and when an opportunity presents itself, can load it quickly and effortlessly in one fluid motion.

Since they began running many years ago, Grimm and his wife have each won well over a thousand races, events ranging from local charity races to high profile marathons. To win that many races requires tons of training. Grimm has found that the best places to train are the places he hunts, which gives him the opportunity to scout locations.

Running and covering so much ground has helped Grimm find many shed antlers over the years, as well as a number of Indian artifacts. "I always look for things that are out of place," he says. "I look for a different color of rock, something lighter or darker. I look for the horizontal line of a deer's back rather than look for the actual deer."

Once the deer are located, he begins to pattern them.

"One key is knowing where they bed and leaving them be," he says. "Once I locate a big buck, I don't go back into an area until hunting season. The ticket, too, is to jog around the perimeter of the property. That's usually how I find the rub lines and where deer are coming in and out of an area."

If he has trouble finding rub lines and other sign that might point him in the right direction, Grimm then goes back to running the property as he did in the summer. To train properly for a marathon, which is 26.2 miles, you typically have to get accustomed to running the distance of the races. So, training runs sometimes extend to 15-20 miles. The long distance training conditions your body, and on these long distance training runs Grimm keeps an eye out for big tracks and herds of does. Experience has taught Grimm that when the fall rut comes, big bucks will seek out those does.

"Sometimes I can get on their trail," Grimm says, "and I follow them for four or five hours. I learn where they go when pressured, where they bed and feed." All of this helps when he returns in the fall. If he can locate them, Grimm then knows where they're likely to run when jumped.

Every year, Grimm and his wife log hundreds if not thousands of miles running. "The most Cindy ever ran in one year was 3,000 miles," says Grimm, "and that was when she was training to qualify for the Boston Marathon." That's the equivalent of running coast to coast across the United States.

The husband-wife duo have participated in the Boston Marathon every six years over the past 30 years. "The reason we do that," Grimm says, "is that it took us six years to qualify the first time, so we made it a goal to run it every six years thereafter. This year would've been our year to go."

Rather than try to win awards in their respective groups, Grimm and his wife usually run the Boston Marathon simply for the thrill of being there. They train and plan to run the race in four hours, which means they would've been approaching the finish line this year at about the time the bombs exploded. Their son Eric attends the race as a spectator, and if patterns had held true, he would've been taking photos of his parents from the exact spot where the bombs went off.

Grimm can't explain why they passed on the Boston Marathon this year in favor of the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5. "I'm not sure exactly why we decided not to go this year," he says. "We've always enjoyed the Pittsburgh Marathon and just decided to do that instead."

Perhaps the biggest secret to Grimm's success as a hunter is his overall system, which includes his hunting vest. One look at his hunting vest and it's apparent that the old adage "a place for everything and everything in its place" is definitely true. "Every year family and friends buy me new hunting clothes," says Grimm, "but I don't wear them. This vest holds everything I need."

Every pocket of the vest is labeled, and Grimm has been using the vest so long that reaching for any particular item is second nature. There's no guesswork involved and that's just the way he likes it, because when running and gunning, time spent trying to locate the right piece of equipment is time lost. And in this style of hunting, just as in running races, every second counts.

Concerning footwear, Grimm uses regular running shoes inside his rubber boots. The extra weight can result in quite a workout. He uses fox urine cover scent and always, no matter what, keeps the wind in his favor.

Grimm uses rifles and shotguns that are light and easy to carry. Duck tape holds any loose parts in place as well as the shell holder on the stock. Everything is streamlined for easy operation. It's a lesson many hunters should heed. A good hunter is not made by wearing and using the fanciest clothing and gadgets on the market. All it takes is patience, persistence, and a willingness to put in the required effort to be successful.

For Grimm, being successful is anything has always been about perspective. "If you look at things single-mindedly, "he says, "such as deciding to train for a marathon, or even choosing to go after a big buck, it can get overwhelming. It starts to feel more like a job because you spend so much time and energy on achieving that one task.

"I think you have to incorporate it with something else, like combining the running with the hunting, and that helps keep you focused. Pretty soon you don't even realize how many miles you've run or how many days you've spent in the woods. Like anything, if you can make it entertaining you can do well at it but it has to be entertaining."

Every year brings new challenges and goals for Grimm. Next spring, he plans to hunt bear and turkey in Montana using the running and gunning methods he uses around home in Pennsylvania and Ohio. "I've never killed a bear using these tactics," says Grimm. "I'm looking forward to it. The guides who will be with me say they're already training for the hunt, but even still, I don't think they'll be able to keep up with me."



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