by Shane Jahn - Friday, August 11, 2017
For those of you new to the gun and hunting game, do yourself a favor and Google “John Wootters,” and buy anything you can find that he wrote. “Hunting Trophy Deer” and “The Complete Book of Practical Handloading” will immediately pop up. Buy them and don't look back! You might also have some luck at finding old copies of Petersen's Hunting, just one of the many magazines he wrote for. In it you will find his monthly column titled “Buck Sense,” which will offer volumes of knowledge on hunting whitetail deer. Personally, I never met John Wootters, but I dearly wanted to. My amigo, Sheriff Jim Wilson, was a friend of his and he wanted to take me to meet him, but Father Time had caught up with Mr. Wootters in his later years and we never made the trip to his home in the Texas Hill Country. I do not recall the first time I read a Wootters article, but I do recall that I was first drawn in by his trademark camouflage cowboy hat. He wrote about hunting in its truest form. I mean get in the brush, understand your quarry, sneak-up-on'em -and-kill-an-old-trophy-style hunting! John Wootters was one of the pioneers in deer management in the early 1970's that taught hunters the importance of allowing deer to mature and achieve their maximum antler growth. He hunted across the globe and especially favored the south Texas brasada country that is renowned for its big trophy whitetail bucks.
So it's only natural that I had wanted a Ruger Number One in .45-70 Govt. since I first saw a picture of Wootters holding his and posing with a leopard in Africa. The Mannlicher-stocked Sako Forester in .308 Win. is as closely associated with John Wootters as the S&W Model 29 is with Elmer Keith. It was one of his favorites and has been shown in magazines for decades, but the short-barreled Ruger single-shot caught my attention. I had to have one.
One evening, after again seeing a photograph of Mr. Wootters holding his .45-70, I decided to do something about it and logged on to Gunbroker. A quick search revealed several used Number Ones in that caliber and the bidding was reasonable. Never having won a bid on the Web, mainly because I don't watch the bidding until the end and inevitably get beat out by those with more dedication than I have, I added one dollar over the current bid on three different Rugers.
I went on about my business and didn't think much about it, until I received an e-mail stating I had won one of the bids. Then another! I logged on and looked at the third rifle...and was currently winning it! (I guess a lot of luck is better than none at all.) I could just see myself explaining this one to my wife, so I contacted a few friends who are certified "gun nuts." No takers, since none of them needed another rifle at the time, or didn't want that caliber. I think they wanted to see the fallout at my house! Sure enough, I won the third Number One, and shortly received all three from our local gun dealer who happens to be the county sheriff. He had a good laugh at my expense and, much to my delight, set himself up in a similar situation a few weeks later when he won the bidding on three separate Colt Sheriff's Models. (I believe they call that karma.)
All three rifles were in excellent shape with no abuse and very little honest wear. I picked out the one with the prettiest wood, averaged the three prices together, and offered the other two for sale. My luck held out. First my little wife only shook her head when I told her what I had done...I think she's used to it. Contrary to my usual poor luck with selling things, I quickly found homes for the other two rifles and didn't even lose any money. (I didn't make any either, but oh well.) My above-mentioned mentor, Jim Wilson, must have felt sorry for me, or my wife, and took one off my hands and my former neighbor bought the other.
I purchased a compact 1.5 X 5 Leupold for my Ruger and intend to put it to good use this fall when the rut is in full swing by rattling-up an old whitetail buck in honor of the legendary outdoor writer in the camo cowboy hat. This one (or three) is for you, Mr. Wootters!
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