The Last Outdoor Magazine

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Many hours of my life have been spent devouring the pages of outdoor publications, especially during my childhood. We had boxes of old magazines dating back to the 1950s, 60s, 70s. Those hours were leisurely, but they were certainly not wasted.

The old, tattered magazine pages of Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and Harding’s Fur Fish Game transformed me from teenaged troubles—there were many—to a fantasy life of hunting and fishing that cemented my passion for the outdoors. When I wasn’t outdoors hunting or fishing, it was through magazine stories that I soaked in the nuances and excitement of elk hunting the Rockies or tangling with Africa’s most dangerous game alongside Peter Hathaway Capstick. I yucked it up with Patrick McManus and thought myself a gun expert thanks to Jack O’Connor.

In high school I found Georgia Sportsman. It changed the game. Instead of far-off fantasies of hunting and fishing adventures, the stories were about right here, my state, trips I could easily experience. Then over the next five or six years, Georgia Sportsman changed. The publishers were onto a great idea with state-specific content, so they scaled their idea to other states. To make their business model work, they started running generic, non-state-specific articles that could fit into all their state titles, and the state-specific content became condensed into a small section. An entire magazine about Georgia became only a few features about Georgia.

Still, in my opinion, it was the best thing out there at the time… that is until the day I walked into an Athens convenience store in 1989 and saw a ragged-looking tabloid newspaper with some crazy headlines and black-and-white pictures. Little did I know those early issues of GON would change this UGA student’s entire life path.

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Now, here we are more than 35 years later. I’ve been an editor at GON since soon after graduating from college. I still drive a ’98 Z71 and I’m far from rich, but I wouldn’t trade my path for the lives of any college buddies who have extravagant lives of wealth and success. I’m doing exactly what I dreamed of doing as a kid, writing for an outdoor magazine.

As we turn the page on 2021—thank goodness—and we begin a new year, there is quite a bit to reflect on from the past year, and much of it is not so good. Yet there is quite a bit of goodness looking forward.

First, the bad news. All those magazines I loved growing up… Outdoor Life, Field & Stream, Georgia Sportsman… they are all gone. They kinda, sorta still exist on the Internet, but you can’t get them in the mailbox.

There’s another magazine that’s now gone that hits even closer to home. Alabama Outdoor News mailed its final issue last month after 15 years of publishing. In terms of full-time employees, AON and GON have always been one-in-the-same, and AON is now in the same sunk boat as Outdoor Life and Field & Stream. That should raise the eyebrows of any GON reader who values this timely, Georgia-specific magazine.

We need subscribers, period.

The good news is that despite crazy increases in printing costs and other inflation hits that just keep coming, GON is solid. We have a plan that will keep GON going forever.

But we need subscribers.

And just as important as renewing your subscription and giving a gift subscription or two, we need our readers to be passionately loyal to the businesses that advertise in the magazine. Please do business with the companies and services you see in ads in your GON. Please also take a moment to thank them for being a part of this GON community.

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We mentioned before that the cost of a yearly subscription to GON will likely increase. We’ve held off on that, but the math is still saying it’s what we have to do. Right now it costs you about 42 cents a week for a year of GON. We hope it is well worth it. The increase we’re looking at would add 8 cents a week to that. We pray that GON is still a bargain. Still valuable. Because a magazine must have subscribers and advertisers.

And I’m looking forward to hearing from a kid who’s so caught up in the GON stories that he or she wants to write the next chapters of Georgia hunting and fishing.

It’s a great path.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>