#472 Tanner Edenfield – Whitetail Moon Secrets

WTR Tanner | Whitetail Moon Hunting

 

In this episode, writer and videographer, Tanner Edenfield, shares his secrets to whitetail moon hunting and putting it all on camera. He lets us in on the three days every month that has the best chance of killing a mature buck along with what he calls “primetime” hunting. On his self-filming, Tanner shares how he got into it and why it is not as hard as everybody makes it out to be. Join Tanner in this episode as he takes us on his nighttime adventure.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE:

Tanner Edenfield – Whitetail Moon Secrets

I’m heading down to Georgia and we’re going to meet up with Tanner Edenfield. He is a writer. He’s a videographer. He also loves to hunt whitetails 30, 60, 90 days a year. Tanner, welcome to the show.

I appreciate you having me.

It’s exciting. We met up on social media. I like to have all different types of people. I’m happy that you cared to join us because you’ve done some things that a lot of people aspire to do, but they never get off their butts and do it. We’ll start with the writing then you’ll get a little play on the buck that you killed. Why hunting? What’s so magical about hunting whitetails?

It ran into me. At three or four years old, I’m out in the woods with a little toy bow sitting in the woods waiting on a deer to walk by. It’s my dad getting me into it at an early age and I’ve been totally obsessed my whole life.

Was it your dad, grandfather, an uncle that got you in the woods or only you?

My dad hunts and all. He got me into it for sure but he always says I took it to another level or something. I don’t know what it is. It’s been in me to be totally obsessed with it. As a kid, I hunted with my dad and my granddad on my mom’s side. We’d always hunt together. They were more casual hunters. Grandad hunted strictly for food. He’s got all these stories on these big bucks he killed. He didn’t even keep the racks or anything. Most of my family hunts at one point or another.

You are passionate about it. You got the bug, however you want to say it, to spend 60 or 90 days in a treestand waiting for Mr. Wonderful. That’s hard work. It isn’t easy.

It does get to feel more like work at some point. It is what it is. To me, if you have a goal, there’s only one way to make it happen and that’s to make it happen.

A lot of people talk about it. I know during the rut when I do an all-day sits, that’s hard. I don’t care what’s your age or anything. That’s hard.

It’s not as bad as it used to be now that you play on your phone and all, but it’s hard though. Especially if you’re ever going to a point that you’re not seeing anything. You’ve got to talk yourself into understanding it. He’s only going to walk by one time.

You spend hours and hours waiting for him to come by and it’s all over within ten seconds. All of a sudden, there he is, you get set up and he walks underneath you.

You miss him at fifteen yards.

You miss him again and you go, “Are you kidding me?”

It’s crazy. It’s unbelievable when it happens. The big one I killed, I just started bawling like a baby. I couldn’t believe it.

Tell us about the video and how you self-filmed.

I got into it almost by accident. I used video a lot as a kid and I never got anything on video. Two days before I killed my big one, I said I was going to try and go shoot a doe. I was like, “I might as well pull out the old camera again.” A buddy of mine had let me borrow a camera arm. I went and shot that doe on video. I thought, “That was cool.” It got me caught up to carry all the stuff again. Lo and behold, two days later, I shot him and that ruined me. Now, I feel like I got to carry the video every time I hunt.

When you talk about video, is it an SLR, a digital camera or a regular video camera? What do you shoot?

I got a new camera. I bought a little JVC, handheld, point-and-shoot video camera for $100 off Craigslist. I don’t know the price years ago. I filmed all those with that. I’ve got me a Canon G30. I’m getting more into it and stepping off a little bit.

WTR Tanner | Whitetail Moon Hunting

Self-filming is tough. When you get in your stand, you’ve got to set up. I know some guys that leave their arms and everything in a tree on private land. Let’s walk through what time you go in to get set up and how does that all work.

It depends. If it’s an afternoon hunt and I was hunting a giant, I’d probably be there three or four hours before dark. If I was hunting, I don’t know if I’d be there that early. It depends on the time of the year too. In early season, I’m expecting if I see something, it’s going to be the last hour and a half of dark. That’s what I call primetime, the last hour or so. I might get there two and a half hours before dark. Of course, during the rut, you expect anything, something to walk through at any time. It all depends. You’ve got to get there a little bit earlier to set up the camera and all.

How long does it take to set up a camera?

It’s not as bad as it was. I modified the camera arm where I drilled a couple of holes in my climber, so I don’t have to carry the base of it at all. All I have to do is carry that little arm and I mount a part of it to the climber itself. I can set it up in less than a minute. It was taking a lot longer because you had to carry a separate backpack and strap that base to the tree and do all that. I got sick of that and figured out a little redneck ingenuity and cut that down.

How do you make sure your camera is on the buck when he is coming through?

I look at the screen and stay zoomed out. I’m a hunter, first, and a filmer, second. I zoom out and keep it in his general direction. If he’s on a food source or something, it’s easier because he isn’t moving. During the rut and all that, I zoom out and follow them.

Then you get to set up for the shot.

Every situation is different. I’ve done some, where I’ve led them and stopped them on the opening where I was going to stop them.

What advice would you give somebody if they’re saying, “I want to start doing self-filming?”

I’d say, “Go for it.” I haven’t found it to be as hard as everybody makes it out to be. To me, the hardest thing was carrying all that extra stuff. Once I’ve gotten that work out, it hasn’t been that much more difficult than hunting.

You’re using a climber. How many pounds are you carrying up on the tree in your backpack?

Before I had that to come up with, that camera arm was probably fifteen pounds. Climbers are probably twenty. A lot of times, I carry a bag of corn too so I might be carrying 75 pounds. When I killed my big one, I carried my climber, a backpack full of crap and a bag of corn for probably 700 to 800 yards. I’ve got a setup now. My camera or my carry is probably three or four pounds. The camera is a couple of pounds. It isn’t too bad these days.

You’ve got a bow too, right?

Yeah, that’s true. It’s probably five or six.

Let’s go back to the writing piece. I think you told me that you can’t sleep so you’d write an article. Is that when your best work gets done?

It’s not that I can’t sleep until I write one. It’s that I always have an idea in the back of my head. I always struggle with not being able to sleep. Typically, on those nights, the time I don’t have anything else to do, I get up and write one. Every year, every deer season, I have one or two things I focus on trying to improve. A lot of times, that turns out to be what I end up writing articles about.

It’s actually things that have happened to you. You’re writing an article based on your own personal experience.

It’s stuff or things that I learned. Sometimes, I’ve written them and come back and I had things to change my mind a little bit about it. For instance, my last one for Outdoor Life a local guy here, a buddy of mine, Chad Day, has been talking about this theory he had on moon phases for years. First, I was like, “You’re crazy.” According to his theory, there are three days every month where that’s your best chance of killing a mature buck. It’s right around the first quarter. That’s a week after a new moon, a week before a full moon. I started paying attention to it. Sure enough, I was looking at my trail cameras and I was right on with his theory. I ended up writing that article up and sending it into Outdoor Life and they published it.

If you have a goal, there’s only one way to make it happen and that’s to make it happen. Click To Tweet

Does your buddy give you a chart? How do you get the information? Did he say, “Do this, do this and look for this?”

When the moon is overhead at like 6:00 PM, it usually falls right around that first quarter. If you take that day, the day before that day and the day after that day, we found 40% or 50% of daylight buck activity on bucks that we deem to be over 3.5 years old occurred on those days. It’s a lot more accurate than the non-rut months, September and October. Of course, in November, they’re wide open all the time.

It’s proven at least to yourself and to your buddy that there’s something to this.

When I did the study, I got another guy, Jacob Ziadie. Between his cameras, mine, and one another, we had 30-something cameras that I mapped out all the buck sightings data for and charted it out. The graphs are in that article and everything.

What’s the name of the article?

If you wanted to see it, you can type in Outdoor Life Moon and it’d be the first thing that came up on Google. The graph isn’t on the online version. It’s only on the print version.

At least it gives some semblance of what the heck is going on. Do you think that will work in Wisconsin, Iowa or Kansas?

I’m not sure. Down here, I’ve had a ton of positive feedback on it around Georgia. I was hoping I’d get some more feedback from some people in some other states that I haven’t heard much. I’ve had one or two guys who say it didn’t work. That’s one or two. I haven’t had a chance to compare it with a whole lot of people out there.

You need a fairly large sample size.

I saw a thing from them saying that they go by if you can see the moon in the afternoon which should be right along those lines if it’s overhead at 6:00 PM. They say those were the good days. That seemed to line up. We fall running with it.

Overhead or underfoot, there’s a lot of moon stuff going on. I want to say that Charlie Alsheimer died. He had done for years and years moon phases and all of that information. He wrote an article for Deer & Deer Hunting every single fall and it worked out good.

I was taking a grain of salt. I wouldn’t consider it a secret to hunting or anything like that. The data is matching up with it. It’s another tool in the toolbox. Chad plans his vacation days and stuff around it. For what it’s worth, my big one, I killed was on that day or the day before. Chad also killed a big one on the predicted day. It works for us.

One thing I like about Tanner folks is that, if the season’s open, he’s going to be out there until he tags out. That’s for sure. How many bucks can you kill in Georgia?

Just two.

How many does?

You can kill more than two. We have part of the hunt on management areas but some guys can kill three or four a year. I don’t ever do much. Down here, it’s like, “Let’s play Red Rover and see which one of deer runs through.”

That’s everywhere. During rifle season, every single ridge, you can see orange. Guys are out there. They’re waiting for an elk to make a mistake. There are people that do it well and they’re two, three or five miles away from the trailheads. They’ve got horses and everything. That’s a different deal. If you’re driving off your ATV or your four-wheeled truck, it’s something to be desired. They’re still hunting and I’m happy for that, but it makes it a little lot tougher.

It’s the journey as much as anything. It’s not necessarily about killing. Everybody wants to kill a big buck but sometimes, it’s being there. For example, I was out hunting and I didn’t see a hog all day. It was a great day. We found two sheds. At the end of the day, me and a buddy are sitting on box blinds. It’s like the deer know deer season is over. We ended up seeing seven deer, four bucks. We videoed them. We videoed a nice eight pointer that I would have shot in a heartbeat if I could. It’s not always about killing. It’s about being out there.

WTR Tanner | Whitetail Moon Hunting

It’s the whole lifestyle. Whitetail hunting is a huge industry. There’s no question about it. I have thousands of people reading my blog and they’re trying to pick up a nugget here and a nugget there. There are interesting people that have a story. People love to hear stories.

I got a few but I don’t know where to start.

Start with one.

A lot of it makes me look like an idiot but it is so funny I can’t not release it. For example, in Kentucky, at the peak of the rut, for whatever reason, I had shot at a deer on Halloween here, hit a limb and missed him. I normally only carry three arrows. I only had two. I’m hunting at the peak of the rut in Kentucky with two arrows. Lo and behold right out of the daylight, a ten pointer comes walking down the ridge and he spots me. There aren’t any good trees in Kentucky. I didn’t have a lock on. All I have are the climbers. I am out in the open. I go for it. He spots me and walks out the 40 and keeps going on his merry way. That’s how they do in Kentucky. They’re at 40 yards and I thought they’re safe. I went to shoot him and hit a limb. It was twenty degrees which is freezing for Georgia. I put these big old gloves I had back on. Less than a minute later, an even bigger buck comes chasing down the ridge. I didn’t even have time to take those gloves off. I shot him fifteen yards and I missed him. I shot right under him. I don’t know if that was the gloves or me. Long story short, I’m sitting here with no arrows watching two big bucks.

Did you have a camera for that one?

I did, yeah. It’s on Facebook and YouTube. It’s like, “Rookie hunter misses two big bucks.”

Where was the doe? You said you had deer and a doe. Was she close to the tree? You said you shot a doe early in the morning.

I was thinking, “Maybe I shot a doe.” I had missed that buck in Georgia before I went to Kentucky. I was trying to figure out why I only had two arrows in my quiver. I didn’t shoot a doe that morning. That was the first story that came to mind. It is what it is. It made for a really good video though. A lot of times, I don’t slow down enough to get my stuff in order and get organized. Somehow, I ended up in a tree with two arrows in Kentucky in the peak of the rut.

What are you going to do next time, carry four arrows? What are you going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?

At least three. I’d probably pay more attention. I’ve had two different bucks I shot at 40 yards and didn’t pay attention to a branch above my line of sight and hit branches twice. I’d pay attention to that for sure and carry more arrows. The list goes on.

What’s your favorite whitetail technique when you’re cutting a new area? It’s a new area, what are you going to do?

The first thing I like to do is figure out where I think they’re bedded. A lot of my bucks are nothing like I want to be within 150 to 200 yards from where he lies down. It takes a couple of years to figure it out. Sometimes, it’s a new property. I want to figure out where they’re bedding, where their foods at, where the does are. Anything else is a puzzle you put together. In different times of the year, you find it different. Early season, if I can find where he’s bedded and a rub line headed to a food source in the afternoon. Sometimes that’s a slam dunk. It’s probably some people want the paint job done and I’m hanging up on them.

Is that what you do for a living? Do you paint?

I own a painting company.

For houses or commercial?

We do some commercial and mostly residence or repaints. It keeps me in the woods and I’m happy about that.

I wouldn’t think you are married or anything.

I have a fiancée.

Everybody wants to kill a big buck but sometimes, hunting is just all about being there in the outdoors. Click To Tweet

Let’s switch it over to gear talk. What’s the last piece of gear that you bought? I know you mentioned a camera so we can talk about that or some other piece of gear.

I wouldn’t dive into the camera because I couldn’t tell you any of the technical aspects of it. The last hunting gear I bought was arrows. After running out of arrows in Kentucky, I bought another dozen, Black Eagle Zombie Slayer.

Why’d you buy them?

They’re durable and cool. I like the name Zombie Slayers. It’s a Georgia company. If I can buy something close to home, I’d rather do that. It’s a cool brand. They have more options as far as customizing them than other companies. You can order brass inserts with your arrows and stuff like that. Lately, a lot of guys want to shoot more weight up front. That makes that easier. It’s a durable all-around good arrow.

What kind of broadheads do you put on?

Lately, I’ve been shooting Ramcat. On Facebook forums and stuff like that, you see how these guys argue over broadheads. This is where you put it. I shot one with a Ramcat and one with a bipolar. They both fell over within sight. If you make a good shot, they die. If you’ve been hunting long, you know that. It’s funny to me, all these guys online arguing about what broadhead they need to shoot.

It’s like Ford and Chevy. They both get you down the road. They’re both good trucks. People put their stake in the ground and say, “You’ve got to shoot this and here’s why.” That’s why there are so many brands.

At the end of the day, it’s where you put it. Worst-case scenario, if you shot one, you’d rather have an expandable for the big ole haul. If you hit one on the shoulder, you’d rather have a little broadhead that might poke through.

I know from out west when I first started hunting out here, I was amazed at guys shooting elk with .243. They said the exact same thing. If you hit them in the right place, it doesn’t matter what caliber, they’re going to die.

You’ve got to worry about that worst-case scenario.

These guys that I’ve been hunting with, they’ve been doing it for a while, so they take the shot that they knew would put them down.

The ballistics of .243 is not bad as far as a bullet drive or anything like that. The .243 is small for a whitetail, but I shot a lot of them with a .243 as a kid.

When you’re looking back after the season, what are a couple of things that you’re carrying for to next year, lessons learned?

Obviously, first and foremost, to carry more than two arrows. Out of statehood, in Kentucky, I made twelve trips up there. All in all, I went up there and sprayed food for my food plots. I put all this work into it. I feel like it went to waste. All the bucks we saw were not bucks that live there. They were deer that were walking through. I thought they would have been walking through anyway. I feel like I wasted a lot of time and money going up there. That’s one lesson. If I had a place out of state going forward, I’d probably wouldn’t step foot on it until November 1st. I may go looking over some and be it.

No food plots?

The food plot would obviously be of some benefit, but I don’t know that it would be worth driving way up there and plant one and having to pay somebody to do tractor work of it by hand and all that. I don’t know if it would be worth it. I’m not an expert in anything. That’s my opinion on driving eight hours and planting food plots.

Some people want to have it because they want to suck the does in. If the does are in the neighborhood then the bucks are going to be in the neighborhood.

Being in an ag area, they’re there. That’s my personal opinion. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything. I don’t know that I would drive eight hours twelve times to get a place ready again. I’d probably hunt it.

WTR Tanner | Whitetail Moon Hunting

 

How’d you find that lease?

Out from GON forum, Georgia Outdoor News Online Forum.

Because you did see a couple of shooter buck but you missed them.

There’s deer there. That place didn’t have any resident shooters. There was one mature buck that I felt lived there and he was twelve inches wide, 80 inches total, a gnarly seven-point. Deer had to have been 250 to 300 pounds. I let him walk twice. I had a buck, 135 to 140 inches at some point that would show up every morning. I had cameras up there. I found a trail between where I thought the deer were bedded and some soybeans across the road. It’s a gravel road. I’ve never seen any cars or anything like that. I threw some corn out on that trail to be able to get a picture of them. That buck showed up every morning, 30 minutes after daylight heading back to that bed and every afternoon 30 minutes before dark, he’s headed to the soybeans. This is every day. I’m sitting here thinking, “I’m going to go kill this buck on opening weekend.”

Probably exactly a week before the season opened, he quit showing up and I got to talking to one of the neighbors up there, the guy who helped me with the food plots. He’s asking me, making a conversation, “Have you seen any good deer?” I was like, “I was seeing a nice buck every day and he disappeared.” He says, “I’ve got a picture you might want to see.” He sent me a picture of this buck I’ve been watching dead on the side of the gravel road where you never see a car on. You can sit there for an hour and not see a car. As my luck would have it, it gets hit the same week before I was going to shoot him.

You did everything right except that Ford or Chevy took him out for you.

It was there. That was a heartbreak there. It is what it is. He’s a wild animal. He’s going to go where he wants to go. It’s crazy to me that he’s done lived his whole life, he’s running in a group with ten bucks. On that whole group, he’s going to be the one that gets hit on a road that one car an hour might grab on. That’s my luck.

What are your plans for 2018?

I’ll keep doing the same thing. I don’t think I’m going to lease that place again. I’ve sent out a lot of letters around here. I step up around here. I had a couple of invites out-of-state. I’d see what happens. I was considering trying public, some out of state public. They say it’s not as bad out there as it is here.

I’ve got one friend. He works hard at it. He’ll get as far away from the parking lot as possible as he can and he does well. He shoots good deer, but he’s been at it a while and he doesn’t hunt leases or somebody else’s private ground. All his hunts are on DIY. He does well but it’s a lot of work.

As far as getting a lease out of state, you never know what you get into. This particular deal, the farmers had these two German Shepherds that were supposedly protecting their cattle or whatever. They run laps on the property all the time and they won’t put them up. I feel like if I’m not going to be knowing what I’m getting into either way, I might as well be freeing and go public. A lot of guys that live up there, if you’re out shooting and calling, they might not even look at. If I can go out there and shoot a 130 or something like that which might be a three-year-old or even a two-year-old, I’d be happy with it.

It’s still eight hours?

WTR Tanner | Whitetail Moon Hunting

 

It might be six to where I was in Kentucky. I might get to Kentucky. I might get to Illinois.

You need to get out to Kansas and parts of Missouri.

I wouldn’t be opposed to that either. Hopefully, I’d find somebody that’s done it before and give me an idea of where to go maybe, not necessarily a tree but a management area. That’s a good starting point.

You should get a long way with two guys driving. Tanner, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. Any last thoughts?

I can talk all day if you’ll let me.

I appreciate you being on the show and sharing a lot of insights on self-filming and writing articles and of course, chasing whitetails. On behalf of thousands of readers, I want to say thank you for being on the show.

I appreciate you having me.

Next up, we’re staying right here in Colorado. It’s lovely in Colorado and we’re going to connect with Bill Vanderheyden. Bill is the owner of Iron Will Broadheads. You might know him on the web or social media as @IronWillOutfitters. To clear this up, an outfitter is somebody that puts something together. He’s a purveyor, he sells you things. He outfits your hunt. Other people have thought that they are an outfitting business which they are not. He makes the finest steel broadhead on the market. The price points off the charts. It’s $100 for three broadheads. When you check out the show, you’ll know why he’s asking, demanding and sharing with the hunting public a broadhead that expensive. There’s a reason and Bill is going to share a story.

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