GON, Never Forgotten

Daryl Kirby | May 3, 2022

Take any two-lane highway out of any small town in this great state, and in about 20 minutes you will roll up on another small town. At the stop sign or traffic light, you will probably have to turn right because there’s a town square. I love small towns.

If I’m traveling, I will go out of my way to avoid Interstates. And not just because I’m not fond of going 80 with 10 cars lined up bumper to bumper like they’re drafting into the final lap of the Daytona 500. I get off the Interstates because I love seeing small towns and the countryside between them. 

I don’t think there’s a small town in Georgia where I can’t make my wife roll her eyes when I say, “So-and-so lives here.”  

“Who’s that?” she will say, entertaining me but not really paying much attention—because this skit plays out over and over every time we travel the backroads of Georgia.

GON guy,” is the simple answer. But often I’ll have a little more meat to the answer. Maybe it was someone who took me fishing for an article back in the early 90s. Or a Hunt Advisor, or just someone we wrote about who killed a big buck or caught a lake-record fish.

Or maybe it is a guy who won a week of the Truck-Buck Contest in 1992, a guy named David Brannen, a man I already knew before he made the Shoot-Out because he and his dad were pioneers in quality-managing a big tract of dirt on the Flint River that became a famous tract of land and produced lots of big bucks.  

When my wife and I drive through Montezuma, there are lots of names I might mention. The GON roots are deep and solid in that part of Georgia. David Brannen was one of those names.

For selfish reasons, I need for this GON-and-you relationship to not be one-sided. Y’all get to keep up with the writers and people who hunt and fish every month when the magazine hits your mailbox and every day through There are people in small towns across this state who are meaningful to GON and the hunting and fishing community. Maybe we haven’t spoken those names in years or heard from them, but they’ve kept up with Georgia’s hunting and fishing family.

David S. Brannen passed away on April 1. We didn’t know, not until a few weeks later when we opened an envelop with the first note and check. That’s when we went online and found David’s obituary. 

The last line said…

“The family requests donations be made to the Georgia Outdoors News to promote hunting and fishing in Georgia.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in the building. I can’t begin to describe how much this gesture by the Brannen family means to the GON family.

I was cutting my dad’s field last week, running the tractor at 2 and 2, slow and easy—baby it so it will last. Like he taught me. Running slow, that’s a lot of tractor time, a lot of time to think. I thought about dad. Man, I miss seeing him on that tractor. 

And I thought about David Brannen, and that got me thinking about another small-town name we lost recently. Then another… 

Tractor time will do that, get you thinking.

And then I had a realization about GON. Maybe this was just some deep, tractor-time delusion, but I realized what makes GON special isn’t just hunting and fishing articles and pictures of big bucks and fish. 

It’s the people in those articles. 

They had a memorial service for David Brannen in Unadilla on April 3.

And forever and always, David S. Brannen will also be memorialized through the 2002 “How The Truck-Buck Weeks Were Won” article, and in a 2008 article about shed hunting called “Picking Up The Off-Season Benefits Of Sound Deer Management,” and in the Macon County deer records with four listings.

The memorializing of Georgia’s outdoor heritage, the people who hunt and fish here—that’s what GON does best, and why it matters.   

GON. Never forgotten.

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