Life is not as complicated as we often make it out to be. At the end of the day, life is nothing more than a series of choices. It really is that simple. Notice I didn’t call it “easy.” It’s not. But I am a firm believer in the power of choice.  And the power of determination.

As followers of the Antler Geeks journal know, our concept is one that focuses on “reality-based” whitetail hunting. Many of the TV shows and DVD productions in the hunting world today just aren’t realistic to many of us. Hunting with an outfitter virtually every time you hunt, hunting on places that are scouted and prepped by others (or, worst of all, hunting behind a high fence) – that’s just not how it works for the vast majority of hunters.

We make it a point to declare that the Antler Geeks will not be hunting any of these types of places nor will we be hunting with any guides or outfitters. In other words, the places we hunt are small pieces that we’ve gained access to by permission or by paying a lease fee. When we hunt out of state, we hunt public land. Heck, we hunt some public land here at home too. But we must also explain a big difference about leases here in our home state of Michigan. First, you have to understand that there are nearly one million deer hunters here. Sure, you can lease a piece of ground. But all that really means is you won’t have to fight a crowd there. But you will absolutely have neighboring hunters – many of whom will be perched right on the property lines. A 200-acre lease here is a pretty big chunk of land. But it’s not big enough to stockpile a bunch of bucks and it’s certainly not in an area where many bucks will live past their first or second set of antlers no matter what you do. It’s just a fact of life. In other words, hunting pressure is high here no matter where you go or what you do.

Michigan is not unique. From Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to Kentucky, hunters everywhere can relate to the situation we’re in. Our goal, however,  is to show that it really is possible to hunt big, mature whitetails in heavily-pressured states and that you can have world-class adventures on public land. Because the simple fact is you can – if you choose to do what it takes to do so.

Does that mean we’re fundamentally opposed to those who choose to buy land or manage large acreages in the famed whitetail states? Heck no. In fact, we greatly admire those folks who have made the commitment.  There is nothing wrong with someone who has made the decision to take advantage of the options available to them. In fact, that’s what we’re all about.

As I stated earlier, life is a series of choices. Your hunting success will only be what you make of it. For those fortunate to live in areas of the country where there are areas that aren’t heavily-hunted and the opportunity to own or control enough acreage to truly manage whitetails, there is a real opportunity there. You simply have to choose to take advantage of it. Simply living in a place like that does not guarantee success on big whitetails.

The exact opposite is true as well. Just because you live in a heavily-hunted state where the whitetail herd is, shall we say, less than ideally managed, it does not mean that you can’t hunt the types of bucks you see on the cover of magazines. Or, for that matter, that you can’t take great satisfaction in simply killing bucks that are above average for your area.  It simply means that you have to choose to work harder, hunt smarter and make sacrifices. It’s hard work. But it’s great work.

A great example is in my friend Jeff Danker. Jeff lives in Oklahoma and hosts Buckventures Outdoors on Sportsman’s Channel. Starting this fall, he’ll also host a new show with Matt Duff called Major League Bowhunter.

Jeff is part-owner of a big ranch in Oklahoma that’s intensely managed for big whitetails. The hunting pressure is strictly controlled and the management guidelines are stiff. Does that mean he’s not an Antler Geek? Not a chance. In fact, he’s EXACTLY the type of guy we’re talking about. He took advantage of the opportunities he had and made the decision to utilize them as best he could. He’s fortunate to live in a part of the country where whitetails can reach maturity. But without him making the decision to invest his time, money and energy into making the most of what he has, he would not have the hunting he has. He’s not privileged simply because he hunts a great piece of ground. He earned that ground by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his will. In fact, before he was able to buy his land, he spent many hours hunting public land. That, friends, is an Antler Geek.

Yes, we tend to shun those TV and DVD productions where a Booner seems to live behind every tree. But it’s because many of the hunters taking those bucks did very little work for them.  They arrived in camp, sat in a stand someone else had hung and simply pulled the trigger. Then they were onto the next outfit. That’s not reality. And it’s not how we want to hunt.

Now don’t take that to mean that we are 100% opposed to hunting with outfitters. We’re not. Sometimes an outfitted hunt can be a great way to do something you’ve never done before. But for many people those are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Not weekly endeavors. What do we do in the meantime? We hunt where and how we can.

There is a BIG difference between folks who work hard and make the choice to do things on their own and those who simply allow others to do the work for them. It paints a very unrealistic picture when you watch the shows and DVDs where every hunt is in an area that few others ever will get to hunt and all of the prep work, scouting and effort were done by someone else. It makes “regular” hunters seem inferior because our results aren’t the same.

The Antler Geeks is all about reality. Our goal is to showcase hunting as it is for many of us and, at the same time, chronicle the choices we make to do what we do.  This is a year-round passion and commitment to living out our whitetail dreams.

Life is a series of choices. There are those who choose to make their whitetail dreams come true without cutting corners. There are those who choose to invest their time, money and energy into taking what they have and making it better.

They are the Antler Geeks. They’re not nerdy. They’re obsessed.

- Tony Hansen, Antler Geek

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