A Legend Passes: Longtime HUNTING Contributor John Wootters Dies

Technology may be good for a lot of things, but it doesn't make receiving sad news any easier. When my iPhone announced this afternoon that the inbound call was from Texas, I took a deep breath.

Several days ago I had received word that my old friend, John Wootters was in the ICU at a Kerrville, Texas, hospital.

Like New Yorkers, Texans don't waste a lot of words.


"John passed away earlier today," my friend began. "He passed quietly. Jeanne [his wife] is doing fine. She's such a trooper."


I don't recall much of the rest of our conversation. My mind was on John. Longtime readers of Petersen's Hunting will remember John Wootters from his years of penning the Buck Sense column, as well as his countless hunting features, from jaguar hunting in Mexico to elk in the Rockies, to Cape buffalo in the wilds of Africa. His book, Hunting Trophy Deer, is a classic and is considered by many to be book that launched the whitetail craze that remains today. Writing was John's craft, and his readers always came first.

John was also an expert on firearms and was a frequent contributor to Guns & Ammo in his earlier years. He was a master of all the shooting disciplines and a lover of cowboy action shooting. But John loved hunting best, and he loved hunting whitetails best of all.

I was lucky to have received a number of invitations from John and Jeanne Wootters to hunt with them when they owned their ranch just outside of Laredo, Texas. Los Cuernos, as it was called, was a model for whitetail management, long before managing for trophy deer was fashionable. Heck, Wootters literally wrote the book on it.

And while the hunting was superb, my fondest memories are of the evenings spent outside by the fire. We would generally hunt together just before the SHOT Show in January, so those Texas nights were chilly. But sitting down next to a crackling mesquite fire with one of John's signature margaritas in my paw and one of Jeanne's special marinated steaks or chicken masterpieces sizzling on the grill; well, life couldn't be much better. On many of those evenings, former PH back-page author Gary Sitton shared the fire with John, Jeanne and myself. Those were good times.


Years later, retinal problems caused John to give up shooting long guns, but that hardly seemed to matter. He quickly switched to handguns and continued to hunt.

John had a lovely 20-gauge side-by-side that he had custom-made for himself in Spain. It was a lovely gun — perfectly balanced and quick as a whip when it came downing doves or Texas quail. And I admired it deeply.

I was doing a lot of eastern grouse hunting in those days, so I asked John if he would sell the gun to me. He did, saying that he was happy that his favorite shotgun was going to be knocking birds down again. And it has.


I haven't had John's 20 out in a while, but I think I'll take it out tonight. I'll sit by the fire with three fingers of good single malt — a Wootters' favorite — in a tumbler. And as I admire the well-worn stock and the bluing that's now turned silver in the grips, I'll hoist my glass and remember my old friend.

John Wootters brought the joy of hunting and his deep love of the outdoors to all of us through his writings. It was his gift. And I shall miss him very much.

Here's a look at Wootters' first article, a Guns & Loads column that appeared in the November 1973 issue of Petersen's Hunting.

Wootters_Guns-and-Loads_001

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

Top Ten Hunts

Top Ten Hunts

Here at Petersen's Hunting we have compiled the 10 best hunts caught on camera from the last 2 years of Petersen's Hunting TV. Enjoy!

Fare Game: Elk Tartare

Fare Game: Elk Tartare

David Draper shows you how to properly prepare Elk Tartare.

B&C Typical Mule Deer

B&C Typical Mule Deer

Doug Burris Jr's typical mule deer taken in 1969, could just be one record that will never be broken.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Since the first explorers and pilgrims landed, the inhabitants of this glorious country have been Shooting

7 Favorite Truck Guns

Joseph von Benedikt - May 11, 2015

Since the first explorers and pilgrims landed, the inhabitants of this glorious country have...

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these guns. Survival

Which Firearm Is Best for Bear Defense?

Larry Case - July 11, 2018

If you're spending time in the outdoors where you might encounter bears, carry one of these...

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing strategies. Conservation

Are New Hunter Recruitment Strategies Working?

Andrew McKean - May 05, 2020

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing...

See More Trending Articles

More News

In a year trying daily to defy description, even longtime cartoon hunter Elmer Fudd is being affected by the craziness of 2020. News

As 'Loony' Year Continues, Longtime Rabbit Hunter Elmer Fudd Loses His Gun

Petersen's Hunting Staff - June 08, 2020

In a year trying daily to defy description, even longtime cartoon hunter Elmer Fudd is being...

In this News

A Boy's First Buck

Hunting Online Staff - July 25, 2018

In this "Petersen's Hunting" clip, Mike Schoby initiates his young nephew into the world of the

Hunters should't let the pandemic scare them away from license draws. News

Will COVID-19 Pandemic Kill Hunting Tag Applications?

Joe Arterburn - March 27, 2020

Hunters should't let the pandemic scare them away from license draws.

Social media: Where hunters must #keepITPublic and Stay #sickforit — or else. News

The Impact of Social Media on Hunting

Andrew McKean

Social media: Where hunters must #keepITPublic and Stay #sickforit — or else.

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now