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Arthur Woody

 

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Arthur Woody
Ranger Woody

He Knew Georgia's Deer Personally

 

 

He was a giant Hulk of a man - a cross between John Wayne, Jim Bowie and Daniel Boone.

His domain was some 180,000 acres of forest north of Dahlonega in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He was a philosopher, financier, conservationist and wit.

 

    He was Ranger Arthur Woody, the man who created the first wildlife management area in the South - the man who after seeing his father kill the last deer in the North Georgia mountains, vowed he would do something about it. And he did.

    Ranger Woody left the great world that he loved so well in 1946. Some 1,500 people came to a small mountain church to pay their respects. Most of them stayed around until dark, telling one story after another about the unforgettable character who was Ranger Woody.

    Charlie Elliott, former commissioner of the State Game Commission, and noted outdoor author, was one of them.

    "One of the best stories about Woody I recall was the one about the deer which he reintroduced to the mountains," said Elliott, who was southeastern editor for Outdoor Life for years. Woody told me he had gone with his father on a hunting trip when he was a boy. He said his dad killed the last deer anywhere in the mountains.

    "I vowed I would remedy that situation when I was grown," Woody told me. He raised some money from the U.S. Forest Service. He put up a lot of his own money after he became a ranger. He went up to North Carolina and brought back a number of whitetail deer, released them in an area near the headquarters of Rock Creek and told the people of the mountains to leave them alone.

    He named many of them. One old buck was named Old Nemo. He had names for others. Finally, the deer did multiply and everyone, including Woody agreed that some of the deer ought to be taken. There were a great number of fine bucks in the tremendous herd.

    "The deer season opened and hunters came from all around. They took many fine trophies. And Woody was there at the check-out station when they started coming out of the refuge. Seeing the first big buck, Woody turned his head a little bit and the tears started streaming down his cheeks. He never shot a deer after that," said Elliott, a close and devoted friend of the old ranger.

    "Today, the Blue Ridge area, which was Woody's territory - actually his domain - is one of the finest areas in the State," he said.

    But Woody did more than put deer in the forests and trout in the streams. He built roads and cut red tape.

    "Woody had asked the federal government to build a road from Suches to Stone Pile Gap, to enable the mountain people to get to Dahlonega," said Elliott. "The government told him they could not build roads, they could only improve them. Woody went to work, with scrapes and mules and everything he could muster and he scraped out a trail through the mountains. He the wrote to Washington and said, 'I have my road. Now you come and improve it.' The road north from Dahlonega is that road."

    Woody has no use for the bureaucrats and the Washington executives who he regarded as too stuffy. And Woody hated to wear shoes worse than anything, said Elliott.

    "Once a Yankee from the Forest Service in Washington came to Dahlonega, accompanied by some of the Atlanta crew," said Elliott. "The executive was told that Woody wouldn't wear shoes. The executive told his men, 'We've got to do something about that.' He stopped off at Woody's home, while the rest went away. When his aids returned, there was Woody and the bureaucrat, both shoeless, their feet propped up on the banister and each with a glass of apple brandy in his hand."

    His contempt for officialdom was expressed on another occasion when one of the bosses had accompanied him back into the woods.

    "Where's the bathroom.' the boss asked Woody. 'With 180,000 acres of woods around you, you don't need one,' Woody retorted," Elliott continued.

    Elliott said that Woody was not much at toting a bible. And even worse about quoting it.

    "But when he was made angry, he would usually leave the scene, returning minutes later to say, 'I'm not mad now. I have just again seen what God has created and I can't stay mad any more.

This article was compiled from family stories and information found in an article written by Paul Jones

The Atlanta Constitution

Atlanta, Georgia     October 29, 1975

 

Let us take you to Suches, Georgia........"Valley above the Clouds"

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