Longtime outdoor writer Covey Bean dies at 81: 'Hunting and fishing was his life'
For 24 years, Covey Bean regaled readers of The Oklahoman with hunting and fishing tales.
“Hunting and fishing was his life,” former outdoors television personality Don Wallace said of Covey, who died Friday at the age of 81.
Covey retired from The Oklahoman in 2001 after writing about the outdoors since 1977. He started his career at the newspaper in 1969 and covered a myriad of important stories such as the Star Elementary School explosion and Ronald Reagan’s visit to the state. He even served as the newspaper’s city editor at one time.
But the outdoors was his passion.
“Covey was an excellent newsman, holding a number of key jobs at the paper,” said Mike Shannon, retired managing editor at The Oklahoman. “But he was best-known for his work as outdoors editor. He was a great writer and a skilled storyteller and his colorful accounts of hunting and fishing were a vital part of the newspaper.”
Covey’s sons, Brent and Lynn, often accompanied him on his outdoor adventures.
“So many different little mom and pop places he actually put on the map because he would go and write about them,” Brent said. “We went quite a bit with him. He would pull us out of school, whatever it took.
“He was completely and totally in his element (hunting and fishing). We would go on guided hunts and fishing trips with him. He was my teacher and my brother’s teacher. He just embedded us in it. When his health started declining and he couldn’t get out, he missed it dearly.”
Brent said his father actually was somewhat of a social introvert, but he could spin a tale on paper.
“He wasn’t the biggest social butterfly in the world, but boy you put a typewriter in front of him and he could weave a tale,” Brent said. “People could read his articles and they would feel they were right there with him.”
Chuck Justice, a fishing guide on McGee Creek Lake, was one of many Oklahomans that Covey shared a boat with over 24 years as an outdoor writer. He considered Covey his good luck charm because he always caught big fish with him.
“When I think about Covey I always think about his smile,” Justice said. “He was such a good writer. It’s like he could pluck your thoughts out of your head and put them into words.”
Greg Duffy, the director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for 16 years, said Covey was a talented writer but a true journalist.
“Covey was always fair in what he wrote,” Duffy said. “He wrote what the facts were and let them fall where they may. He was a great ambassador for promoting hunting and fishing in Oklahoma.”