"Making Decoys the Century Old Way "
by Grayson Chesser and Curtis Badger available at bookstores and online nationwide.
The preservation of the art form of woodcarving involves many styles and reaches back over a thousand years. One particular art form, as we now describe it, had actually nothing to do with art. It had to do with survival. To create decoys constructed to trick live game birds to get close enough to harvest for food. This page is dedicated to those who carry on this tradition in its most basic form. The carvers featured are not mass producing work to sell to the average consumer. They are carrying on an North American tradition that spans centuries. A tradition that many unsuccessfully try to replicate in mass production. A tradition that forms the very foundation of what wildlife, wildfowl and waterfowl carving, in its many forms, owes its roots.
The decoy makers featured below are striving to keep the tradition alive through carving in the manner that their predecessors carved using time tested methods just as those that walked before them! Click on their pictures to find out more!
As summer relinquishes it's reign to the autumn season and as the tree's begin their transformation from lush green to a spectacular display of fall color, the wildfowl begin their journey to the Atlantic Flyway. Escaping their northern climate, each head south. The Black Ducks, the Teals, the Mergansers, The Snow and Canada Goose and many others, spread their wings and make their passage to a small strip of land known as the Eastern Shore of Virginia. As part of the Delmarva Peninsula this narrow peninsula, nestled between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic's Barrier Islands, echo the sound of of the Decoy Makers, both past and present. The hum of a bandsaw as it cuts at the chunks of cedar and pine, the rhythm of a hatchet or draw knife as it sheds additional excess wood and the whisper of a carving knife can be heard as the decoy maker completes the final touches that make the bird come alive. The Eastern Shore has long been home to many decoy makers, some well known, many forgotten in time. The hunting season is a journey that celebrates our American heritage. A journey through history, a journey through time and a journey of respect. A kinship of heritage. For generations those that have labored to hand create decoys, have awaited the arrival of the wildfowl that bring the opportunity to preserve a way of life and to reflect upon, and to pay homage to, the generations that walked before them.
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Cautionary Statement - Woodcarving, like most activities, have certain inherent dangers. We strongly recommend the use of carving gloves, thumb guards, safety glasses and other forms of protection while carving.