Pandemics, Governors, And Online Deer Records

Daryl Kirby | June 2, 2020

The past two months were interesting. A tip of the cap to GON’s staff—there’s just seven of them—who did what was asked and needed. Like lots of small businesses, we knew it would take extraordinary effort during an extraordinary time, and it is because of them you are reading the June 2020 issue of Georgia Outdoor News magazine.

That’s Volume 34, Issue 6. Thirty-four and one-half years of no missed deadlines, no missed issues, and no ‘we’ll catch up with you next month’ apologies. Not even during a global pandemic, a time when some governors were banning hunting and fishing and locking down boat ramps and ‘ordering’ people not to work.

Makes me appreciate Georgia Governor Brian Kemp even more. Maybe it’s all these years of being one of you, a GON subscriber, that helped bring him some sensibility and courage during what had to feel like a no-win situation. 

If Georgia had followed the path of some other states, say Michigan, or even that little state to our east, Ronnie Garrison wouldn’t have been ‘allowed’ to launch a boat at Lake Eufaula and spend a day rolling big largemouth, taking photos and marking a map for his monthly article.

Daryl Gay might not have been ‘allowed’ to get in the boat with Capt. David Newlin and make another coastal memory he’ll never forget, and to share it with us in his unique and wonderful style.

In some states, the governors literally banned fishing charters and guide trips. This could have easily been a very different, and in my eyes a very disappointing, June 2020 issue of GON.

There are two groups without whom there certainly wouldn’t have been a June 2020 issue of GON, and that’s our advertisers and you, the people who subscribe and have stuck with us all these years. We can’t thank you enough. If you’re a reader, please pay attention to who continues to support this magazine, and support them. It matters so much, more than ever.

And a tip of the cap also to all our writers and people who stock the magazine racks in the convenience stores. While there are only seven full-time employees at GON, there’s a small army of men and women who are vital to making it happen—and not just each month with the print magazine, but every day now that we publish online at

Speaking of the website, there’s something new we’re announcing publicly here for the first time. It’s a personal passion of mine, and something everyone who’s been a part of GON should be proud of. Most of you know we keep County-by-County deer records and publish Top-10 lists for each county in the magazine once a year. We’ve been compiling records of Georgia bucks for 30 years now, and not just deer that make the Top-10 in a county. The beginnings of those records have been on my computer since 1992 when GON founder Steve Burch walked into my office with the craziest, most infeasible idea he’s probably ever had—and if you know Steve, you know that’s a bold statement.

“Let’s figure out the best bucks ever killed in every Georgia county,” was the gist of what he said. 

The gist of my response was less than respectful, it was meant to be sarcastic, something along the lines of… “Sure Steve, why not. And while we’re at it, let’s figure out the best fish caught from every Georgia reservoir.”

“And river…” he added, already down the hall to put another editor on another impossible task.

And so it was that County-by-County began—very slowly at first— and with a great deal of help from official scorers. Men like Bill Cooper, George Steele, Steve Ruckel, Adam Hammond, Jerry Bearden, Bobby Bond, John West, Duncan Dobie and many others. And help from men who ran deer contests like Gerald Hosea of the Wildlife Federation, who trusted me to go through his old boxes of score sheets, and my friend Bill Hilsman with his contest records. Thousands of miles on truck tires and countless hours to track down rumors of big bucks. 

Now, the GON Deer Records are online—every deer, sortable by county, WMA, weapon, year, by hunter’s name. 

Want to know the best buck taken in 1985 in Jones County, it’s there. We’re still fine-tuning, but check it out at

Become a GON subscriber and enjoy full access to ALL of our content.

New monthly payment option available!


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.