“Hunting is just like anything else, maybe we don’t understand it, but we have an impression of it until we talk to people who do it. For some people it’s a way of life. They grew up that way and they enjoy it. It’s a memory you can’t buy. People can buy vacations and other things but hunting is something you can’t honestly purchase.” - Gene Wisnewski
The following interview follows the hunting life of Gene Wisnewski, our ATN Ambassador. Gene Wisnewski explains that hunting is not just about hitting the target, it’s about — tradition, community, balance, and the opening of new doors in life.
Tell me a little about yourself ? How old are you and when did you first get into hunting ? I am 48 years old. I grew up in Pennsylvania until I was about 29 years old. I started hunting when I was 12 years old, I went along with my dad. At the age of 12 kids are allowed to go hunting in Pennsylvania, so that is kind of how I started. My kids started a bit younger than me.
As I understand you are a father, when do you think is the right time to pass on the hunting traditions to your kids ? And what is an appropriate way to introduce it to them ? You don’t want to throw them right into doing what we do. So what I would do is come home with the animals that I took and my son would be able to look at the pictures. Pictures were a part of it. I’d take my son and my grandson for a little drive just so that they can see the animals, identify those, as we walked around we would look at the tracks and stuff like that. When you start to hunt you want to scout. You don’t just go and hunt one day. You have to prepare. I just take them along with me and it kind of gets them interested in it where they can go look into the Trail Cameras and see the pictures, and you start to quiz them “What animal is this?”, “What animal is that?”. A new thing now is the video games. Before my son went to hunt with me, he actually played video games that were about hunting. There are a couple of pictures of when my son was in diapers in his battery car, and he was driving around with my turkey in it. So when they are young, you kinda get them hooked by showing them things, taking pictures with the animals, then you go out there and prepare the land and they just start to love it. I never had to push them towards it. When they asked me to go, that’s when I started taking them. My grandson just started last year, he loves to see videos that I make on YouTube using ATN products. Another thing I want to say to you, if you ever do get invited along on a hunt, I’m not going to take you on the first day and let you shoot the biggest weapon there is. It’s going to be loud. You have to ease into it. It’s the best way.
So when you go to hunt, tell me what goes into your bag ? Obviously ATN equipment! You want to make the experience easier so lights, tripod, batteries, ammo, BINOX! You definitely want a pair of night vision binoculars to see the distances. Drags! Whenever you hunt a big animal, you need to have assistance, so I will take a deer cart or a drag cart to get it out of there. Calls! Most animals have a language and if you have calls, you can call them in closer to you. You want to have good clothing, you want to be comfortable out here, a comfortable chair! Make it enjoyable!
What are your favorite products by ATN and why ? Right now the Binox 4K, because I record my sons’ football games. So the team loved the video, and they contacted me and asked if I could record video for the team during the whole football season. He was on the Freshman team. They loved it so much that the Varsity team contacted me and asked me to do it for their team! The Binox is the one I like the most right now because it even reaches out to non hunters. Anyone can use the Binox and that’s what I like about it. Security, sports, you can record dolphins from the beach. I always love to have the Binox on me.
Can you please tell me about your favorite features ? My favorite feature is capturing the videos. It’s why I started with ATN and it’s the reason I stick with ATN. Recording is the greatest feature. I can relive all my greatest hunting moments anytime I want. I can teach from them. If I make a mistake or if I do something right I can rewatch it together with my son. Before we started to hunt for hogs together, I’d show him the videos, so he would know what to expect out there. The recordings from ATN are awesome. That recording feature has just done everything for me. Being able to teach people, relive things. I will sit in my house and I will hear my son in the other room watching his football videos that I recorded for him using the Binox. Catching those memories is the biggest reason I am using ATN products.
What gear do you always have on you? What products do you use? I always have my Binox with me. Whether I am scouting or hunting I can take the Binox with me and I can see the distance and I can record. One of the great things is being able to record and bring back these memories. As you get more years into hunting, you start to forget a lot. Going back to these videos helps. So I always take the Binox, I take multiple X-sights, Night Vision and Thermal because you never know what conditions you’re going to have out there. If you’re able to have both, I love to take both! I also take the Rangefinders! Our Rangefinders are very good because the set up is just as important as the hunt so knowing the distance you’re going to choose and things like that is very helpful. I always have the Binox even if I’m not hunting.
Gene, what kind of animals do you hunt? My favorite is hog. I moved to a State that has plenty of hogs. You don’t normally see them in the daylight, so they are kind of a mystery creature. I hunt deer, turkey, hogs, coyotes. The great thing about South Carolina is that we can hunt hogs all year.
What are some things that are important to pay attention to when choosing the right gear ? Every hunt must include a game plan. Some hunts, I look for conditions, that’s what makes me choose what equipment I got out there. Your game plan is like a puzzle. You have to match the correct plan with the correct gear to make you more successful. If I am at a long range shoot — I am going to take a different ATN product than if I were to shoot at 100 yards. I will look at the weather. It’s like planning a trip. Planning determines what products you take, and the products determine if you're successful or not.
Any tips for first time hunters ? Find a mentor. Maybe it’s someone you see online that you think is good. You can also go with a guide. You can pay to go with somebody to learn from. I love to fish, but I am not a good fisherman. So, when I want to go fishing, I pay a guy to take me with his equipment and I learn from him. YouTube videos are great. You can watch videos and learn how to call coyotes in. I make videos for the ATN channel. Go online! Before there was YouTube, I read a lot. I would subscribe to magazines. I subscribed to South Carolina Magazines and learned from those magazines how to become successful at hunting in South Carolina. Watch a lot, read a lot, and pay a guide to take you hunting!
Has the pandemic affected your hunting experience? Absolutely not. I go hunting with 1 or 2 people but generally I am a loner.
Tell me why you have chosen ATN and why you continue to stick with it ? I think ATN is a great company that gets people involved in the sport that we love. One of the things about this sport is that it can be very expensive and it’s hard to jump into it and spend thousands of dollars on something you don’t really know if you like or not. ATN allows you to get under a thousand dollars. I became hooked and I became hooked for life. ATN gets you in at a very reasonable price and then you decide if you want to do it or not.
How many ATN products have you tried? Rate them from favorite to least favorite. I’ve had about a dozen products, I’ve had all the night vision scopes, my favorite of course is the Binox, Thermal Scanner is good, it allowed me to see more animals, and learn more about them. Thermal allows me to see animals without them knowing. Learn their bedding area, learn their patterns. Thermal scanners and the thermal scope are such an advantage of seeing more animals way back in there. I like the X-sights. I started with those, I still use them, but they moved down below the Thermals. I do like the Rangefinder, it’s not necessary but it’s a good feature.
What kind of improvements or changes would you like to see in the ATN products ? I like just about everything. There is such a long range of them. The thing I like most about ATN is that it has $599 units and then you have up to 5K$ units. ATN has so many features. It’s hard to imagine what ATN is coming up with next because they come out with such great things! Who would have thought that you can put a rangefinder on a scope? The new scanner is going to be great! I love the internal battery. In the old units, I had to buy batteries and re-charge them. Now we have an internal battery! That’s a great feature! I spoke to someone recently about a product which has a 4-hour battery life and that won’t last you. It won’t last you at night. If I could ask for any improvement it would be recording in the night with color, that would be awesome! Other than that it’s exciting to see where ATN is going because I don’t know.
How has the ATN smart HD products changed your way of hunting ? I am now able to hunt more especially in the night! Hunting in the daytime takes a lot of time away from your family. But ATN allows me to start my hunt at night when my wife goes to sleep. ATN gives me more time in the field and I love it.
What’s it like being an ATN Ambassador ? I think it’s awesome! I get to meet people all over the world! It’s amazing to hunt with the people I’ve met. I’ve taken veterans hunting, I’ve taken young kids hunting. The people that I got into this sport that will never forget me and I get to talk to them on a regular basis. That's the great part about being an ambassador. Of course trying out the new products, but meeting new people is the best part. I think this will be my 3rd year as an ambassador. When I became an ambassador I thought I would just be trying out products. I didn't get to meet all those people, I didn’t know I’d start a YouTube channel. When I first started I just knew how to push the record button and that was about it. I got to learn and I got to help people. Being an ambassador is more about helping others than about who is the best or who gets the most animals. The more you give, the more you receive. The more I give, the more ATN gives me.
Is there a memorable experience that the ATN products were a part of ? Everything with my son. Every animal he's taken, every touchdown in his games. I say this a lot, but I wish I had the videos of me back in the day, you know? But my kids are going to be able to relive all of these memories even after I am gone. Every hunt with my son or my grandson has been great.