During the time I was writing this series of interviews, I was in weekly, sometimes daily contact with the owner of Rodmaker Magazine, Tom Kirkman. One day I received a call from Tom indicating that he had spoken with a man named Vic Cutter who was a former employee of Bullard International. Bullard International, and it's owner Gene Bullard were at one point one of the largest rod building supply houses in the world...and certainly the largest distributor Fenwick rod blanks during their heyday. However after Bullard International went out of business, Gene basically disappeared. There were rumors he had passed away, or moved out of Texas where Bullard International was based, but, nobody really knew for sure of his whereabouts.
During their conversation, Vic indicated to Tom that Gene was alive and well, and living in a retirement community in central Texas....which just happens to be where I live. When Tom shared that information with me, I immediately started looking through the local phone books (when those were still a thing) and found a G. Bullard in a town about 25 miles north of me called Kerrville. A short phone call to the number listed, revealed it was indeed THE Gene Bullard we were looking for.
Gene and I had several conversations and agreed upon a time for our interview the next week. We became pretty good friends because of our residences being only 20 minutes away from one another. I had the pleasure of visiting Gene on many occasions and learning about his unbelievably interesting life. Here in Texas we have a long tradition of extravagant story telling..."tall tales" they call them, and Gene was the master of this genre. He could, and would tell stories all day long about fishing adventures that while on the surface may seem outlandish and downright fictitious, there was always just enough truth in them that left you thinking "this might actually be true!".
Gene had a great sense of humor, was one helluva salesman, and even into his late 60's and seventies was as disciplined of a businessman as I have ever met. Having been out of the fishing industry for well over a decade, when I knew him, he had quite the profitable enterprise selling jewlery and wildflower seeds on Ebay.
Gene was one of those rare, old school personalities that is missing from the fishing industry these days. If you speak with those who knew him, or those who did business with him, they will tell you, "there was nobody like Gene Bullard". And, they are right!
Hope your all having a great week!