SALINE COUNTY, Ark. – If you travel down Dub Grant Road in Saline County, you’ll find Grant Ranch. Go a little farther and you’ll find a man at the end of his rope. That man is Dub Grant. He’s been at the end of every rope that has come out of the Grant Rope Company.
“I’ve been doing this 61 years,” Grant said. “This is my 61st year. Last two years have been my best.”
So how many ropes can one man stretch, cut, tie and assemble by hand in 61 years?
Grant holds up both hands and says, “Enough to get my knuckles this big and my fingers crooked. I started when I was 18-19 and I’m 82 now.”
A rope with a reputation
At 82, Dub has earned the right to sit still, but he rarely does. He’s always moving around the shop from one rope project to the next. His ropes have earned an international reputation for being among the best a cowboy can have. Pointing to a stack in the back of his shop.
“Those 55 over there are going to Canada,” Grant explains. “I’ve sent them to Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, I have some stores in Panama.”
It’s a fact a cowboy relies as much on the rope in his hand as he does the horse under him. Grant agrees.
“They are so important everyone will have a rope on their saddle, and they’ll usually have one or two in their trucks,” Grant said.
Chad Fryer, a cowboy since birth he’d say, puts it point blank.
“It’s your lifeline,” Fryer said. “It’ll make you or break you.”
For decades, the best rodeo ropers have been reaching for and throwing Grant ropes. One champion after another.
The man labeled as the King of the Cowboys, Trevor Brazile, and others who have won with a Grant rope, have sent them back to Dub as a thank you.
Tying in some history
What is it that goes into his ropes that makes them so desirable? You’d have to find a champion roper for that answer.
“I won the International Association World Championship in 1969,” Grant said. “That year I ran 103 calves and only missed three. I made the National Finals three times. I won the Arkansas Rodeo Association five times. Then I won the all-around one year. It was honor to win that cause there are real good ropers here in Arkansas.”
Grant grew up in a rodeo family of trick riders who traveled the country. He was self-taught, and that meant taking a few lumps.
“We didn’t know what a helmet was,” Grant says with a chuckle.
It was the same when he and his brother wanted to learn how to rope.
“When we started, my Dad said, ‘Here are couple of calf’s and a horse. Build a roping pen and get after it,” Grant recalled
Together, the Grant Brothers, got after it.
“Back in those days we had an old ’53 Chevy with a wooden camper on it and a two-horse trailer, we were in high cotton,” Grant said.
At the rodeo, they carried ropes they made themselves. Dub says soon their handmade ropes were getting as much attention as they were in the roping pen.
“My brother and I started when we were 18 -19, made our own ropes took a few to a rodeo and sell them,” Grant recalled. “We’d take a few next week, we’d take few more, first thing you know we are taking 15 or 20.”
The rope-making continues
Now he’s turning out 400 to 500 a week. How they are turned out now, 61 years later, hasn’t changed.
“I got one employee,” Grant said. “He has helped me for about 15 years, me and him do them all.”
That employee is Lee Sullivan.
“It’s fun, we joke around pick on each other all the time,” Sullivan said.
“His story’s ever get old?” KARK 4 Anchor Bob Clausen asked.
“No sir,” Sullivan replied. “There are some I’ve heard one hundred times, and I still enjoy listening to them.”
When younger ropers stop by, Grant enjoys knowing he sort of has a hand in their success.
They are part of what keeps him going, keeping him, far from the end of his rope.
“I’m 82 and I still like it, I still like it so I’m going to try and keep going and everything,” Grant said.
Dub Grant is an Arkansas treasure. With every rope made, he creates the ties that bind.