SEOPA Announces Winners of 2017 Excellence in Craft, Special Awards

20 Oct

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. — Outstanding communicators in print, web, video, book, industry and other categories were honored with 2017 Excellence in Craft awards at the 53rd Southeastern Outdoor Press Association conference at Kentucky Dam Village Resort Park. The awards are sponsored by Mossy Oak and presented during a banquet hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The awards celebrate the best among the SEOPA members’ works of the last year in the various fields of traditional and new communications. 

“The annual SEOPA EIC competition is truly that, a competition among some of the most talented outdoors communicators in the country,” said Alan Clemons, 2nd vice president and EIC chairman. “In several categories only a few points separated the top four or five. Many of our judges expressed admiration and said making final determinations was challenging, which further exemplifies the strength of our members’ abilities.”

First place in the Special Communications Awards went to Jill Easton for the Conference Site Story sponsored by Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, Tom Van Horn for the Realtree Website Award, and Kenneth Kieser for the Sharon Rushton Award sponsored by Daisy.

College student Angele Latham officially accepted her 2017 Lindsay Sale-Tinney Award from the SEOPA’s education arm the Outdoor Journalist Education Foundation of America (OJEFA).

Other awards included the Chuck Buckley Special Friends Award, which was presented to Stacey Wheeler, Life Membership to Jim Casada, and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Jim Spencer. SEOPA’s highest honor, the Tom Rollins Award was bestowed upon Tes Randle Jolly for her outstanding service as a long-time board member and chair of the auction committee. The announcement of these awards was kept secret until the SEOPA awards ceremony.

Excellence in Craft Award winners and judges:


1st Place: Jim Casada

Promotion of Profiles in Mountain Character

2nd Place: Jim Ferguson

Fall Hunting Guide

3rd Place: Mike Giles

Passion of the Wild Christmas Event



1st Place: Jim Ferguson

“Bass Fishing”

The Revolution with Jim and Trav

2nd Place: Bryan Hendricks

“Outdoors Artists and Photographers of Arkansas”

Ray Tucker’s Arkansas Outdoors

3rd Place: Jim Ferguson

“Hog Hunting”

The Revolution with Jim and Trav



1st Place: Ron Jolly

“The Cahaba Lily”

2nd Place: Ron Jolly

“Alabama’s Striped Bass Restocking Program”

3rd Place: Jimmy Jacobs

“Brook Trout Fishing”

FOX Sports South



1st Place: J. Wayne Fears

The Lodge Book of Dutch Oven Cooking

2nd Place: Whit Gibbons

Snakes of the Eastern United States

3rd Place: Larry Richardson

Tennessee Wilderness



1st Place: Kenneth Cook

“Riding Shotgun on Trout Stocking Truck”

Clinch County News

2nd Place: Bobby Whitehead

“Hunt for Redemption”

St. Louis Labor Tribune

3rd Place: John Sloan

“A Poor View of Hunters”

Wilson Post



1st Place: Bryan Hendricks

“Farewell to a Son and Treasured Companion”

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

2nd Place: Ken Perrotte

“By Not Hovering Over Children, Adults Help Them Spread Wings”

The Freelance-Star

3rd Place: Jim Casada

“A Heartbreak to Remember”

Rock Hill (S.C.) Herald



1st Place: Tes Jolly

“Dynamic Duo”

Gamekeepers Magazine

2nd Place: John Flores

“Close Encounters of the Bird Kind”

Morgan City (La.) Daily Review

3rd Place: Tes Jolly

“Bull-Necked Bachelor of the Pines”

Alabama Forests



(1,000 words or less)

1st Place: Matt Markey

“In a Rut”

Toledo Magazine

2nd Place: Keith Sutton

“In the Heart of an Arkansas Swamp”

Life in Chenal

3rd Place Tie: Jill Easton

“Ghost Flowers”

Harris Farmer’s Almanac

3rd Place Tie: Tes Jolly

“Gobblers Worthy of a Name”



(more than 1,000 words)

1st Place: Monte Burke

“The Heart of an Angler”

Garden & Gun

2nd Place: Jim Mize

“Another Letter to a Grandson”

In Fisherman

3rd Place: Ron Jolly

“It’s All Good”

Turkey Country Magazine








1st Place: Tom VanHorn

2nd Place: Jim Ferguson

3rd Place: Tipper Pressley






1st Place: Jill Easton

“The Return of the Range”

Turkey Country

2nd Place: Tony Garitta

“Alabama is Sweet Home to Many Plastic Worms”

The Lexington (N.C.) Dispatch

3rd Place Tie: Jim Casada

“Black Beards in the Black Belt”

Sporting Classics

3rd Place Tie: Jim Mize


Rethink Rural





Kenneth L. Kieser

“The Impact of a First Duck”

The Examiner


2017 Excellence in Craft Competition Judges:

Thom Abraham, Tennessee, radio host; Terry Brown, Indiana, Editor of; Philip Massaro, New York, book/magazine author; Burt Carey, South Carolina, author/editor; Jerry deBin, Georgia, CEO of Calloway Farms; Brian Lynn, Washington, VP Sportsman’s Alliance; Mike Bolton, Alabama, editor of Alabama Outdoor News; John Johnson, California, editor of; Craig Nyhus, Texas, executive editor of Lone Star Outdoor News; Daryl Ratajczak, New Mexico author and wildlife biologist; Glenn Young, South Carolina, Z-Man Fishing; Bob Humphrey, Maine, author; Candy Thompson, Maryland Natural Resources Police and former Baltimore Sun outdoors editor; Mike Zlotnicki, North Carolina Wildlife;

Sue Cocking, Miami, editor of Guy Harvey Outpost; D’Arcy Egan, Ohio author; Michael Pearce, Kansas, outdoors editor of The Wichita Eagle; Megan Monsour, Louisiana, Philips 66; Jesse Simpkins, Wisconsin, St. Croix Rods; Michael         Swan, Minnesota, outdoors industry specialist; Bob Gathany, Alabama, professional photographer; Tess Rousey, Nebraska, professional photographer, Joe Songer, Alabama, professional photographer, Angie Thompson, Arkansas, JM Associates; Steve Bowman, Arkansas, JM Associates, Mike Suchan, Arkansas, JM Associates, Todd Ceisner, New York,; Pete Robbins, Virginia, senior writer for Bassmaster and; David Sams, Texas, founder and publisher of Lone Star Outdoor News.

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