Remembering Bruce Brady

Mississippi Wildlife Magazine
By Cliff Covington

Summer 2000

“Well, pal, a many an old longbeard breathed a big sigh of relief this morning.”  These were the first words I heard from the other end of the phone line on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2000.  Although these words would not mean very much to most folks, I knew exactly what they meant.  Bruce Brady, Jr. had phoned to let me know that his father, my dearest hunting companion and mentor, had lost his battle with cancer.

Only a week before, “Mr. Bruce” (as I always called him) and “Miss Peggy” (his devoted wife) had visited me at my home in Port Gibson for an afternoon deer hunt.  I will treasure this final visit for as long as I live.  Looking back, I think Mr. Bruce knew that he would not be making many more hunts. We reminisced about past outdoor adventures we had shared and excitedly made plans for future ones.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Bruce passed along to me his old A.H. Fox double barrel.  A shotgun which had tagged along with us many times as we chased after countless boss gobblers.  He told me that he wanted me to have it because he knew I would appreciate a gun with class and lots of good memories.  Mr. Bruce once said, “There’s a funny think about guns.  Some guns are just guns no matter how expensive they are or how well they shoot.  They are only tools.  Other guns take on personality, not necessarily like that of the owner.  One gun may be coarser than its owner while another is more refined than the owner.  These guns we enjoy when we’re just holding them because they have proven themselves in the field.”  He also told me that a gun with class should be given a name by its owner.  I have since named my most prized possession “Mr. Bruce”; knowing that he will be with me, at least in spirit, on each and every hunt for boss gobblers.

I first met Mr. Bruce in 1976, while attending Brookhaven Academy with his son and daughters: Bruce, Jr., Becky, and Janie.  To a 12-year-old, Bruce Brady was larger than life.  My dream was to grow up and be just like my hero, Mr. Bruce – hunting and fishing all over the world, writing about the experiences, and getting paid to do what he loved.  What a life!

I would impatiently await the arrival of each month’s issue of Outdoor Life magazine to read about Mr. Bruce’s latest adventure.  Reading about these adventures was the closest I thought I would ever come to actually experiencing them for myself.  His stories made me feel like I was right there with him stalking a Dall ram in Alaska, bugling up a bull elk in Colorado, fly-fishing a trout stream in New Mexico, or fending off a crazed grizzly in Wyoming.  Mr. Bruce was a skilled teacher and masterful story teller.  He had the uncanny ability of using his writing to teach valuable lessons about life and the outdoors without the reader realizing it until later.

Mr. Bruce had a way of making his friends feel special, which was no easy task for a man with so many friends across the country.  He possessed the unique gift of allowing people to absorb from him his enthusiasm for all of God’s creation.  Through his creativity and integrity, Mr. Bruce has been a source of inspiration and encouragement to all whose lives he touched.  Everyone who met him instantly became a better person in having done so.

Words are inadequate in summing up the life of a man who accomplished more in 65 years than most men could in 650.  Although words are inadequate, Dr. Kim Sessums, a dear friend of the family, may have said it best.  “Bruce Brady sought beauty and truth, not only in his art, but in his life.  For all of us who were blessed to have known him, we know he found both, and shared them willingly with the rest of us.”  Mr. Bruce was without a doubt the most unselfish person I have ever met.

Mr. Bruce dared to dream, to live out his dreams, and encouraged everyone around him to do the same.  Although he is no longer here, Bruce Brady will always be with us.  He made a difference in this life and so many lives.  He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten.