I’m not absolutely certain if John Wootters invented deer rattling, but he sure was a driving force behind its popularity. In fact, Wootters–the man with the camo cowboy hat–was ahead of his time when it came to most everything whitetail deer related. We here at Outdoor Life were saddened to learn of his passing and send our condolences to his family.

Wootters, who followed in the great Jack O’Connor’s footsteps as editor of Petersen’s Hunting magazine, was really the first whitetail deer-specific expert. In the heyday of the hunting and fishing generalist, Wooters published the classic book: “Hunting Trophy Deer.” Though it might be impossible to imagine it in the whitetail-centric outdoor world of today, Wooters’ book was a rarity. Not only was it species specific, but it was also limited to hunting for trophy bucks, which pretty much only existed in Texas back then. A dog-eared copy sits on my bookshelf today.

After stepping down as editor of Hunting, Wootters began writing a monthly column called, “Buck Sense.” Here, Wootters again broke new ground with such topics as genetics and nutrition in relation to antler growth. His “once-a-spikehorn-always-a-spikehorn” proclamation, for example, set the whitetail world on its ear back in the ’80s resulting in heated debate among not only hunters, but biologists as well.

John Wootters was truly the first of the great whitetail deer authors. He will be missed.