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Steve Burch, O’Neill Williams Inducted Into Hall of Fame

Founder of GON recognized for his contributions to hunting and fishing world.

Brad Gill | May 4, 2016

Steve Burch, creator and publisher of GON, was inducted into the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Hall of Fame on April 23, 2016 at the Georgia Outdoor Writers Association (GOWA) annual conference held at Jekyll Island. Steve graduated from North Georgia College with a biology degree. After some time as an industrial water chemist, in 1982 he turned to the outdoors, working for Georgia Sportsman magazine for two years.

In March 1987, Steve published the first edition of GON, covering all aspects of hunting and fishing in the Peach State. In the ensuing years the publication changed from a newsprint format into a monthly magazine and has grown to a circulation of more than 50,000 copies monthly. He revolutionized the outdoor news industry when he developed the idea that, “If it’s going on out there, it is in GON,” with stories that were not only relevant to the outdoors, but very timely. Instead of reading about events that happened last year, sportsmen could read about hunting and fishing adventures that were happening now, and they could join in on the action. GON is very much a magazine of and for the average hunter and fisherman.

GON now has a very large and robust online presence, which includes a large Forum and Outdoor Classifieds website. The company also produces Alabama Outdoor News (AON). The prestigious Truck-Buck contest continues to grow in popularity, which gives testimony to the state’s fantastic deer hunting. That contest is now in its 25th year. Several years ago, the magazine added the Youth Big-Buck Contest for youth 15 years of age and younger.

Steve and GON have had a thumb on the pulse of Georgia’s outdoor sports for three decades. GON has not only covered hunting and fishing adventures but also legislative efforts or news that could effect hunting and fishing

Steve has made a lifelong, positive impact for the protection and future of Georgia’s hunting and fishing. I’d say that he has been the most comprehensive and effective voice for the hunting and fishing community in Georgia for many years.

The other inductee into the Hall of Fame was O’Neill Williams. He is a native of Atlanta and a graduate of Emory University with a degree in economics. In high school, he played baseball, football and wrestled. In college, he was on the swim team, ran track, wrestled and was goalie on the soccer team.

After graduation O’Neill spent a short time in sales management in the food industry. Then his real career began, reporting on hunting and fishing and becoming the face of the outdoors in Georgia at the end of the 20th and dawn of the 21st centuries.

In 1981, O’Neill began hosting and producing the O’Neill Outside television program that aired on six networks to 140 million subscribers across the nation. Along the way, he has fished for virtually every species that swims.

Then in 1993 he originated and started hosting the radio version of O’Neill Outside on WSB radio out of Atlanta. That show became the No. 1 outdoor radio talk show in the nation, covering 38 states.

Along the way his monthly video newsletter attracted 300,000 subscribers, his Twitter posts gained 107,000 followers, and he wrote regular columns for Outdoors Unlimited, Outpost Life and Angler magazines.

O’Neill Williams also has been elected to the Legends of the Outdoors and National Freshwater Fishing Halls of Fame.

Both Steve and O’Neill were given a standing ovation at their induction ceremony and individual plaques. Their names will be added to the master plaque that hangs in the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center, near Mansfield, where it can be viewed by the thousands of visitors who travel to the center each year.

 

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