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Looking Back at the Life and Times of J. Guthrie

10 years after his untimely death, Guthrie's impact continues—an appreciation.

Looking Back at the Life and Times of J. Guthrie

Not long after Game and Fish Magazine contributor J. Guthrie took this wild gobbler in March 2013 while hunting in Florida with Osceola Outdoors, owned by Mike Tussey and guided by Zack Moye, Guthrie passed away unexpectely while sleeping at his Mobile, Ala. home. On the 10th anniversary of his April 12, 2013 passing, many including Tussey and Moye fondly recalled a man who captivated campfire audiences with his storytelling ability and a personality that squeezed decades into a short 37-year old lifespan. More than anything though, Guthrie was recalled as a man who became your friend for life when he met you. Rest in peace. (Photo courtesy of Zack Moye)

On a still April morning, I sipped coffee and checked the news as the day unfolded. While I'd rather have been out chasing turkeys or spawning bass, duty called and neither of those outdoor pursuits was an option.

But it didn't mean that I couldn't live vicariously through the social-media accounts of a few folks I know, some of them experts on the water, some experts in the woods, and other experts at all of the above. That latter group includes Jason Hart, a bit of a legend and one heck of a great guy whose broad smile and rich laughter punctuates many a trade-show floor.

J. Guthrie on ridge
As the late J. Guthrie was fondly remembered on the 10th anniversary of his sudden passing on April 12, 2013, it was noted somewhere that the southern man packed 90 years' worth of life into his short 37 years. He hunted all over North America and beyond, was a firearms and hunting expert, and contributed to many periodicals and TV productions, including Game & Fish Magazine. (Photo courtesy of Michael Turbyfill)

If Hart's name sounds familiar, there's a reason for that. He's a proud alumni from Clemson University and you'll likely know that every fall on a Saturday afternoon. He's the co-founder of NOMAD and HUK Gear fishing clothes for hunters and anglers. And a while back, he returned to his Mossy Oak Camouflage roots, where today he is a Community Leader for the Mississippi company built by Toxey Haas.

He's also a fanatical turkey hunter who lives for the springtime game and has taken gobblers all across the country. So it wasn't surprising to see in his latest Instagram post that he had gone and done it again, taking another longbeard. But this tom turkey was different than all of the rest, and by the time I was through reading his post, there was a bit of dust in my eyes, if you know what I mean.

"Ten years ago this morning, I was awoken in a Texas camp with news that my buddy Tommy T @thomasjohn4x4 was on the other line with an emergency," wrote Hart. "Tommy had the terrible duty of telling me our mutual friend James Guthrie had passed away overnight."

It was a morning that shook in the outdoors industry, including Game & Fish parent company Outdoor Sportsman Group, where Guthrie was a prolific contributor in his roles as a writer, columnist, and TV presence. Known as J., or J. Guthrie to most, this larger-than-life personality left deep and lasting impressions, despite passing away at the age of only 37.

A Georgia boy by birth, Guthrie was a Putnam County High School graduate in 1993, got his college degree from Georgia College & State University in 1998, and went on to become a bright and rising star in the outdoors communications field, doing stories and video work for several publications under the OSG umbrella. Those included Game & Fish, Petersen's Hunting, North American Whitetail, Rifle Shooter, Shooting Times, and Guns & Ammo, where his firearms expertise made him a frequent face in front of the camera and a familiar voice on the print magazine's back page where he wrote a regular column.

J. Guthrie with white-tailed buck
April 12, 2023 was the 10th anniversary of the untimely passing of widely regarded outdoor writer and television personality J. Guthrie. Guthrie wrote for many publications in the outdoors world including Game & Fish Magazine. He had a close working relationship with numerous companies, as well as guides and outfitters across the country, including Alabama's famed Westervelt Lodge. When Steven Carroll posted this image after news of Guthrie’s passing broke, he wrote "Anyone who had the good fortune to meet him, had a friend for life. His stories will now be told around our campfire for eternity. Save a seat for us Guthrie, we will see you on the other side." (Photo courtesy of Steven Carroll / Westervelt Lodge)

A son, husband, and father, J. was young, in good health, and a fairly athletic young man who shouldn't have passed before his 40th birthday. He died in his sleep on April 12, 2013, in Mobile, Ala., leaving behind an indelible impression on all who read his work and watched his TV show on The Sportsman Channel, "The Modern Rifle Shooter."

But the mark left behind was even deeper on the lives of his friends, industry colleagues, and even people like me who might have run into him at an industry event or two.




The first time I ever met J. Guthrie was at a West Texas writers’ camp with a collection of some of the industry's best writers and biggest names in the hunting-gear manufacturing world. I'll admit that I was probably a bit nervous as I rolled into that hunting camp, unsure of myself and trying to find my place in this industry. As it turned out, I shouldn't have because everyone accepted me for who I was, including J. Guthrie, who made it a point to talk to me and to celebrate my success even more than his own.

Hunters with downed wild pig
Chad Schearer (left) and the late J. Guthrie (right) were great friends who hunted a variety of game animals across the country and world. Here, they shared a few laughs and smiles after Guthrie had downed a big wild hog. Guthrie passed away 10 years ago this week on April 12, 2013 at the age of 37. (Photo courtesy of Chad Schearer)

I didn't know enough at the time to be greatly impressed and realizing how special a camp experience I was having—I think I even took the biggest buck of the trip, a happenstance of divine providence, for sure—but I should have realized all of that. As I would find out in the months ahead, even someone without a gray hair on his head, J. Guthrie was already the stuff of legend.

Yeah, J. Guthrie was something special, and everyone who was privileged to know him, soon found that out.

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"Guthrie was one of my best friends, a former coworker and roommate," explained Hart. "This post isn't about the grieving and mourning that his friends and much of the hunting industry experienced, but rather the mark he left on this planet in 37 years. I could go on and on about the dozens of friends and industry contacts I met through Guthrie, some of which became strengthened through his death.

"There is not a hunting camp that goes by nor hunting industry trade show I attend where a ‘Guthrie Story' is not told The man's legacy is as strong as it was 10 years ago on the day of his passing."

The legacy and legend of J. Guthrie—who was eulogized in many places, including on Petersen's Hunting and Guns & Ammo—continues in the springtime woods today as Hart and others have thought of their late friend and colleague.

And in Hart's case, there was a little something else to remind him of J. Guthrie, and most likely, leave a little dust in his eyes, too.

Chad Schearer and J. Guthrie
As spring turkey season continues across the U.S., the thoughts of many gobbler-getters turned to the late J. Guthrie (right) on the 10th anniversary of his sudden passing at the age of 37. A serious turkey hunter born in Georgia and living in Mobile, Ala. at the time of his death on April 12, 2013, Guthrie was friends with many in the outdoors industry, including guide and media personality Chad Schearer (left), who he shared this spring turkey hunt with a few years back in beautiful Hawaii. (Photo courtesy of Chad Schearer)

"This morning at 6:50 am I got lucky and harvested a longbeard with two buddies who also share numerous friends of Guthrie," wrote Hart in his social media post. "Tonight over a glass of brown water, I'll toast over that fine bird to a man whose legacy is still drawing friends together in hunting camps a decade after his passing."

Indeed, and as the hundreds of likes that Hart's social-media post received, something tells me that he had plenty of company for that sip of brown water, as scores of Guthrie fans and friends raised a toast to the man who died far too young. And in this spring season of turkey hunting, a few Guthrie stories will likely be told, punctuated with laughter, smiles, and a few tears as the memories of the man continue.

Because J. Guthrie was quite the talent, quite the southern gentleman, and quite an outdoor-writing legend who had really and truly barely even begun. You are missed sir, and on this fine spring day and many more lying beyond, you will not be forgotten. Thanks for the memories J. Guthrie, they'll last a lifetime for many.

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