Mark Costilow

Mark Costilow
206 Lincoln St
Amherst, OH 44001

I live near the southern shore of Lake Erie's Central Basin, and have been hunting Ducks since I was old enough to swing my first single barrel H&R 20 gauge. My first bag of decoys came out of the neibors hay loft, Who I worked for as a kid. I was Making room for the next cutting of hay and found them in the corner. The old farmer told me to burn em. Well I decided to drag em home instead.

I hunted with them old ratty decoys for 7 years until I tired of the old things. I took them to a sporting goods store near the islands to a fellow I heard bought and sold decoys. I went with the intention of hopeing to trade these 2 dozen old junkers into 3 dozen new plastic models without spending too much money.

Well, I threw the sack of junkers on the counter, told the old guy what i wanted, and began to shop for my 3 dozen new pastic ducks. When I was finished I retuned to the counter and asked the old guy, "What kinda deal can ya give me". The old man looked straight though me and gruffly said "the best i can do is 90 bucks" I wanted the docoys real bad so i pulled out my wallet and started to hand the old guy the cash, when he laughed and tould me the old decoys were worth 90 bucks more than the plastic ones i wanted to buy. I took his money and my new decoys, and laughed all the way back home.

I didnt know anything about vintage decoys at age 19. And i really dont have enough memory of what the old decoys may have been. But I sure would like to hear the story the old man told about that snot nose teen ager who traded him a bag of masons, or dodges, or what ever they might of been for 3 dozen flambeaughs. I'm sure he laughed as hard as I did for quite awhile.

I was a 2nd shift macinist supervisor, and was layed off on October 15 1995, less than a week from the opening day of duck season. They tried to call me back before the end of season, The gunning had been good, so I begged for a couple more weeks, and I never heard from them again. I had to do something so why not carve ducks? Thats when I started, and I havnt quit since. I am a self taught, full time professional carver. I hand carve over 200 gunning decoys a year. Mostly traditional working birds, and compitition grade hunting decoys.

My materials enclude anything that I can get my hands on that is wood or cork and floats. A lot of good head carving material can be found in palletts, or machine crates. Cotton wood, basswood, pine. I use Van dykes glass eyes. I think they are a good bargain. Rusoleum oil paint and True Value exterior latex house paint. Bedford brown is my favorite collor. Mix a little bit with anything to warm it up a little bit.

I have won over 300 blue ribbons across the country. 1st 2nd & 3rd Best of show awards at Harve de Grace, New England DU carver 96, ODCCA, Virginia Beach Wildlife Show, North American Carving Championships, East Carolina Decoy Show, Point Mouillee, Crane Creek, California Open, St Clair Flats, Lousianna Wildfowl carvers Festival, Northern Nationals, and Pacific Flyway Wildfowl Art show.

Be safe, and the best of gunning to ya,