(Click to enlarge photograph)
The death occurred on 11 August 2012 of Paul Anthony Wood, Vice-President of the Irish Deer Society, at his home in Oughterard, Co. Galway.
Paul was born in Rugby, England in 1947 but had been resident in Ireland since the late 1960s when he came to Ireland to enter the world of advertising in Dublin. He was to remain in Ireland from that date, becoming “more Irish than the Irish themselves” in many ways. Although highly successful in the sphere of advertising and graphic design, and an accomplished artist whose work has been collected by many over the years, Paul was perhaps better known as a “deer man”, game shooter and wildfowler of considerable knowledge and experience, much of which he regularly sought to impart in the columns of the Irish Shooter’s Digest. Importantly, Paul was Deer Manager at Screebe Estate in Connemara, Co. Galway, where his work and achievements led to the re-introduction of Red deer after an absence of over a century and a half. More importantly, his careful management policies and highly selective cull programme, supported by characteristics of habitat, natural feeding and generic quality of the base deer population have led to an astonishing quality of animal, at least equal, and probably superior, to any Red deer elsewhere, world-wide.
Paul’s work at Screebe began in the mid-1990s, when Nikolai Burkart, whose family are the owners and custodians of Screebe Estate, decided to take up the challenge of introducing and fostering a small population of deer, and Paul Wood was recruited to manage the project. Paul’s enthusiasm was matched only by Nikolai Burkart’s commitment and financial support over the last decade and a half. Put simply, Paul achieved something of a miracle, in building a population of deer in habitat far removed from the hardwood forestry and lowland grazing usually associated with the sort of heads seen at Screebe.
Meanwhile Paul remained an active bird-shooter too. Paul was a gifted naturalist and extremely knowledgeable in the matter of rearing and releasing game, a talent he brought to bear with the creation of a duck shoot at Screebe, having previously led the establishment of successful pheasant shoots at Dunshane and Brannockstown in Kildare. Having shot both deer and game with Paul over many, many years, this writer can confirm that he had the hugely aggravating habit of always being in the right place at the right time when it came to spotting deer or pulling down an impossible bird. He was tireless in the field and the luckiest man too. He was a magnet for deer and game, but it was always a gamble whether he would get the shot before you did!
Paul was active in the Irish Deer Society, as an officer of the Leinster Branch, Chairman of the Connacht Branch and most recently, Vice-President of the national body. Paul recently received the John Nicholson Trophy from the Irish Deer Society, the Society’s highest honour, awarded for exceptional services to the conservation and management of wild deer. Paul was a CIC- and Rowland Ward-accredited head measurer and will be known to many in that context. Immediately prior to his unfortunate death, Paul was active in the creation of the Irish Trophy Commission Limited, of which he was a founding director and the work of which will be carried on as part of his legacy.
This writer had the very great pleasure of knowing Paul Wood for nearly thirty-five years, of shooting with him for most of that time, and of working alongside him in relation to the better management and practical conservation of wild deer throughout Ireland. I knew too his very great love for his family, and I watched his family grow and develop their own lives as they made Connemara their home. His wife Trish, in common with the wives of many shooting men, was patient and long suffering but her love and support was of vital importance to Paul throughout his married life. Nobody could remain annoyed at Paul for very long, such was his innate charm and good humour. Just a week before he died Paul went to Germany for some specialist medical tests and of course, he managed to squeeze in an outing after Roe deer and wild boar. A sense of his love and appreciation of nature may be gleaned from his record of those outings, where he writes of “the laughing call of the green woodpecker, the mewing call of the common buzzard, a nuthatch creeping up the bark of the tree next to me. A pair of brown hares skipped and jumped about only twenty metres in front of us…. the bright chestnut form of a roe doe [taking] several delicate steps out into the field”. He concludes: “There is something about the hunting fraternity, even if you cannot speak the same language, hunting transcends all. Friendships that are made together whilst hunting last for a lifetime”.
It was a great privilege to have known Paul Wood for as long as I have. His sudden and untimely death has deprived us all of a valued friend and an important contributor to the welfare, conservation and better management of wild deer. His legacy at Screebe will hopefully live on, as will the legacy of his much-loved family. I know that I speak for countless shooting men and deer people when I say that he will be greatly missed. Paul is survived by his wife Trish, daughters Isobel, Jodie, Abbey and Lola, son-in-law Pascal and grand-daughters Millicent and Alice, all of whom he loved equally and deeply, and to whom we extend our sincerest sympathies and condolences.
Paul Anthony Wood, b. 4 March 1947, d. 11 August 2012