Pat Gregory

I began hunting in 1972.  Great grandson of  famed Illinois River carver George “Homerun” Barto.  Currently hunt the mid Illinois River.   Hunt Clear Lake with Jerry Cranwill, Wing Feather Duck Club.   Jerry is also a decoy maker.   Also,hunt Matanzas Beach with Illinois River duck hunting legend, John Karl as well  Doug Durako, Tony Jones and Danny Wilson.  Also hunt Sanganois Conservation Area for flooded timber shooting.   Hunt Canada Geese from goose pits in Canton, Illinois with fellow carver Greg Owens, Rich Ginnetti and Mark Buckellew. 

Am a purist when it comes to equipment.   No matter where I hunt I always float some of my decoys.  Even have a couple of great grandpa’s blocks I’ve been known to take out.   I use a 14 foot Fiberdome Wigeon duck skiff in shallow water marsh hunting and swear by Haydel duck calls.   I am an old die hard Remington 870 guy.   I love hunting flooded timber in my skiff with my Chocolate Lab, Callie.  Although I never have done it, I hope to layout shoot someday.   My current rig of decoys includes over 75 decoys comprised of mallards, pintails, blacks, wigeon, woodies, green wing teal, bluebills, Canada Geese and a pair of spoonies. 

Carving History
Illinois River roots being the great grandson to George “Homerun” Barto Barto carved Illinois River decoys for 60 years with the likes of Robert Elliston, Burt Graves and the great Charlie Perdew.   Barto also learned how to make duck calls from Perdew.  My mentor and teacher is Art Behemetuik who was a student of Barto. 

Pat's Grandpa

I began carving decoys in 1984 and have been carving since.   I have my wife Nancy to thank for this.   She has been my biggest fan and driving force.  My production ranges from 100-200 decoys per year. My decoys are standard size.  My passion is gunning birds.  I also carve fish decoys.  I do have a mallard drake decoy in the decoy museum at Havre de Grace, Maryland. 

Am currently training my 11 year old son Aaron how to make decoys.  He’s doing quite well.  He has accompanied me on hunts and God willing, will begin to hunt with me soon.   My daughter Sarah (8) will have the same opportunities.   Each year I make gunning decoys for them that they will get someday.  It’s been a tradition since they were born. 

Carving Materials
My decoys vary in materials from White Pine, to White Cedar to High Density Cork.   I carve hollow birds, solid birds and high density cork birds.   I use some mostly exterior latex and oils for my gunners.   Depending if I am gunning big water or shallow marsh ground I use a wooden keel or simple disc weight.  Glass eyes are used in all decoys.  I have carved literally every species of duck and geese indigenous to North America.  I like varied head positions and several poses in a rig. 

Favorite Bird to Carve
All of them.   I haven’t carved a species I don’t like. 

Favorite Vintage Carvers 
George “Homerun” Barto, Art Behemetuik,  Virgil Lashbrook, Perry Wilcoxen, Ben Schmidt, Walter Snow, Perry Wilcoxen and Enoch Reindahl. 

Favorite Contemporary Carvers
Jim Schmiedlin, Jerry Cranwill, Greg Owens, Gary Lutterbie, Gene Everett, Mike Lashbrook, Don Lashbrook, Gary Meister, Marty Hanson, Ron Koch, Chuck Brownewell and Ron Snow. 

Just began competing in 1996 and have faired well.  Have only competed at the North American Waterfowl Carving Championship and have taken 3-4 ribbons each with a couple Second and Third Best of Shows the last couple of years although, competition means little to me.  All my ribbon birds hit the marsh and earn their keep of being a decoy.  The best judges are the ducks themselves.  My thrill is seeing birds lock into my decoys in the marsh.   Beats a ribbon any day! 

Our Lord has given decoy makers a special gift.   And, like our forefathers, it is our mission to pass it on to the next generation otherwise, a beautiful and functional art form will be lost and the great sport of waterfowling will be history.