Game hunter and nature lover who helped in reintroduction of red deer


PAUL WOOD: PAUL ANTHONY Wood, who died in August at his home in Oughterard, Co Galway, was vice-president of the Irish Deer Society.

He was born in Rugby, England, in 1947, and had lived in Ireland since the late 1960s, when he came to enter the world of advertising in Dublin.

Although highly successful in advertising and graphic design, and an accomplished artist whose work has been collected by many over the years, he 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.

He was deer manager at Screebe Estate in Connemara, Co Galway, where his work and achievements led to the reintroduction of red deer after an absence of more than a century and a half.

There, his careful management policies and highly selective cull programme led to the production of an astonishing quality of animal, at least equal, and probably superior, to any red deer worldwide.

His 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 Wood was recruited to manage the project. His enthusiasm was matched only by Burkart’s commitment and financial support over the past decade and a half.

Put simply, Wood achieved something of a miracle in building a population of deer in a habitat far removed from the hardwood forestry and lowland grazing usually associated with the sort of heads seen at Screebe.

Wood remained an active bird-shooter, too. He 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.

A fellow shooting enthusiast said Wood 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 a magnet for deer and game, but it was always a gamble whether he would get the shot before you did!”

Wood 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. He recently received the John Nicholson Trophy by the society, its highest honour, awarded for exceptional services to the conservation and management of wild deer.

Nobody could remain annoyed at Wood for very long, such was his innate charm and good humour. Just a week before he died he went to Germany for specialist medical tests, and 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: “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.”

He is survived by his wife Trish, daughters Isobel, Jodie, Abbey and Lola, son-in-law Pascal and grand-daughters Millicent and Alice.

Paul Anthony Wood: born March 4th, 1947; died August 11th, 2012