Tony Hansen shot his first buck with a Wasp broadhead at the age of 12. Since then, he has made hunting his life – writing about it, filming it and learning about it. He is a self-described Antler Geek, whitetail editor at Realtree.com and president of Booner Media. If you think he is another hunting personality that is backed by sponsors to hunt the best land and get spoiled with luxuries…think again. In the inaugural season of Antler Geeks, all shows were filmed on public land or small pieces of private property they had permission to hunt. It is the same land anyone can gain access to. There are no leases, no outfitters, and no overhyped commercials on the show.
This didn’t stop the team from putting a few Wasp broadheads through some fine bucks last season. Once again, the team is hoping to prove that anyone can have success on public land again in 2012.
Q: What is the concept behind Antler Geek’s videos?
Hansen: As a writer, I get to hear from a lot of people and they all say the same things- that what they see on TV isn't real and doesn't apply to them. The audience sees big deer shot every episode, and while that is all well and good, many believe that success only comes with special privileges and what they see on television does not apply to them. But really, if you look at people like Lee Lakosky, many of the hunters on TV got their start like everyone else. Lakosky started hunting on public land, moved up to a lease and eventually bought some land of his own. Antler Geeks is about normal people doing abnormal things. No matter what stage you’re at in your hunting career, you can hunt big bucks and great places without spending a lot of money. Anyone can hunt the places we hunt and have the success we had last season. Instead of complaining about it, make the decision to go after it.
Q: Who are your team members, where are they located and where are the 2012 hunts planned?
Hansen: Adam Millard, Tyler Ridenour, Ryan Reidsma and I live in southern Michigan. Dean Gericke hunts Missouri and Iowa, and Bill Coder is in Iowa. We will be hunting in Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, North Dakota and Ohio this year. Most of the hunts, probably 70 percent, will take place on public lands and the rest will be on small pieces of privately owned land where we have permission to hunt. All hunts will be self-guided and no outfitters will be helping us.
Q: What has been the reaction to your productions?
Hansen: We have had nothing but good feedback and support. When we came up with the idea, we made the decision not to be on TV. It costs so much money and you need big sponsorships. We did not want to be put in the position to do things we didn’t want to do. We are very careful about sponsors. We do a lot of reviews and tell people what works and what doesn’t. Even if it is a product one of our sponsors make. This honesty has been well received, and not something people are used to. There are no guarantees we shoot a single deer this year, and last year we were successful because we worked really hard, but when hunting public land there are no guarantees.
Q: What has been your approach to finding sponsors?
Hansen: We took a unique approach. We sat down and came up with a list of products that we use and believe in and companies we wanted to work with. That list was pretty short. There is a lot of bad, over marketed, overhyped products out there. The companies that were making great stuff that did what it said it did, not receiving a lot of exposure and fit what we wanted to do were the ones we wanted to work with. Wasp is a great example. I shot my first deer with a Wasp Broadhead when I was 12 and was impressed. The broadheads were not overpriced or overhyped and did what they said it would. Then the company kind of fell off the radar until recently. Once I started hearing great things about Wasp, I went back to using their products. Realtree is also a great fit. They cater to normal, everyday people that just want to hunt. We only wanted sponsors who make really great stuff and we wouldn’t be ashamed to endorse on camera.
Learn more about Antler Geeks and watch their videos here.