Tom Reder

My name is Tom Reder I'm 48 years old, Married & have 2 kids, I'm a piping designer for British Petroleum at their Whiting refinery just south of Chicago. I live in Valparaiso Indiana which is about 60 miles south east of Chicago. Started duck hunting as a teenager with one of my oldest & dearest friends Mark Rongers. He, Greg Bires & I have been hunting together ever since. Greg nick named us the Mighty Layout Boys 20 some years ago & the name stuck.

I was first exposed to cork decoys when Mark purchased some soule decoys. When I saw how effective they were over plastic blocks I decided I had to have some until I saw the price tag. That is what prompted me to start carving. A year or so later Dave of the MLB & I found a old refer box car (which was lined in cork) in a salvage yard and got several truck loads black cork! But we were still thrilled to death! We started carving the next day! I got allot of help from a buddy of mine named Chuck Lelak who now lives in Conn. Chuck learned to carve from none other than the old market hunter you hear the MLB talk often about Tom Reed! Mark has a few blocks that Chuck carved that duplicate old Toms decoys.

I still employ most of the techniques that I learned then and added a few ideas of my own. I pretty much patterned my first blocks after Soules. I Took his content head design a little farther & added real puffy cheeks, tilted the bills way down & puffed up the bodies. What prompted me to do this was a photo in Bruce Burkes waterfowl studies of some black ducks. The picture was titled three very content black ducks & I thought what better way to convey safety to birds over head than ducks on the water who look very relaxed. The acid test was the first time I had some blackies land in my rig & go to sleep! I couldn't have asked for a better compliment!

In the early years of my carving it was hard to find much resources to be guided by, there wasn't any internet & I don't live in an area rich in duck hunting tradition, there weren't even very many commercial decoy makers to compare to so I had to kinda learn by trial & error. It's really nice seeing the interest that is developing in decoy making in the last several years. Mark has been on me for years to sell my deeks so a couple of months ago I decided to give it a try. I'm calling it the Grand Kankakee Decoy co. & will offer limited amount of blocks to start off.

I think one of my favorite parts of duck hunting is watching ducks dump into decoys that I built with my own hands, that is quite a reward! My favorite carver is George Soule for obvious reasons, I know other Men have made fancier blocks and blocks that command much more money than George's but old George knew how to make a block that waterfowl couldn't resist & I believe that is what it's all about!

Drake and Hen Mallard