John Wootters

"Mr. Whitetail"

Big Game

Originally Published In HSC Hunter's Horn

FOR A GUY LIKE ME, A WORDSMITH WITH A romantic streak and a fondness for drama, it’s just about impossible to keep from assigning colorful (and lamentably anthropomorphic) characterizations to the dangerous big-game animals of Africa. I know it isn’t scientific, but it’s fun, and—what the heck, nobody takes it seriously, anyway, least of all me.

A Cautionary Tale

Jan 1, 2012

Originally Published In Leupold's Hunting Adventures

Be warned: This is not just a fond reminiscence about a long-ago hunt. It's a tale of success and failure. It began badly and ended badly. But, in between, oh, in between there was one unforgettable, shining moment when I steadied crosshairs on the shoulder of a splendid Stone ram and caressed the trigger.

A Routine Bear Hunt?

Mar 4, 2010

Originally Published In West Kerr Current

You sit, all alone, in the deep north woods of Manitoba, Canada. The hush of dusk accumulates around your shoulders like a black fog. The sun is going. Shadows stretch and slide silently across the ground like disembodied live things, not quite corporeal.

Originally Published In West Kerr Current

It's a little sad that almost everything written about African Hunting features the great dangerous game, the "Big Five" (ie. lion, leopard, elephant, cape buffalo, and rhinoceros). I say "sad" because there are so many other fascinating species of game in Africa that present a very real sporting challenge to a hunter.

Originally Published In West Kerr Current

There’s no doubt that the second-ranked big game animal in Texas is the wild hog ... sometimes glamorized as “wild boar” or “Russian boar.”

Originally Published In West Kerr Current

Let’s begin at the beginning. My name is John Wootters and I’ll be the author of this outdoors column for as long as it suits Publisher Clint Schroeder. I’m a native Texan, now living on Johnson Creek outside Ingram. Some of you may have heard of me.

Cape Fear

Sep 1, 2001

Originally Published In Outdoor Life

We spotted the nyati early, before the sun had begun to clang like a blacksmith's hammer on the anvil of southern Africa. They were not the first of the safari–you couldn't travel very far in Mozambique in the early '70s without seeing thousands of Cape buffalo–but those had been mere background for the intoxicating realization that we were, at long last, in Africa. It was the first safari for both my companion, Jack Carter, and me. We'd flipped a coin, agreeing to alternate shooting opportunities as they came, regardless of species... except for two.

Originally Published In Hunting

The first vocal sound I ever heard from a whitetail deer nearly ended my deer-hunting career before it was fairly begun, and thus almost drove me to take up honest work! It came from the throat of my first whitetail buck. I was a tender 13, hunting all alone, and the eight-pointer was very close. This was good; otherwise, I'd never have hit him, given the violent case of buck fever that shook me like a seismograph needle in a high-Richter earthquake. When I was finally able to make the rifle fire, the buck went down in a heap, spine-shot... and he bawled! It was a shocking, harsh, dragged-out sound, more like a yearling than a deer, and it horrified me. I could never stand making an animal suffer, and the bawl triggered a wave of remorse and guilt–until I realized that the buck couldn't be suffering, having given up the ghost at about the moment his bawl ended.

NEW! King Bear

Jan 1, 1987

Originally Published In Petersen's Hunting

Reprinted for Houston Safari Club Hunter's Horn; Fall 2021 - In the virgin forests of northern Manitoba dwell the kind of black bears dreams are made of. If bears’ eyes are so lousy, why was this one peering up at me in my tree stand, from a distance of 20 yards, as though reading my dog tags? The question rattled through my skull as I instinctively tried...

Originally Published In Petersen's Hunting

What has come to be called "horn rattling" (even though we Texans do know the difference between antlers and horns) has an interesting history–and an even more interesting present! Strange things happen when a fellow goes out and beats a pair of antlers together, if everything is right. If everything is wrong, of course, nothing happens, but when conditions are favorable, strange, wild, hilarious, and sometimes frustrating events come to pass.

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