I was introduced to duck hunting by a close friend in my late high school years. We began by hunting on the banks of the Coosa and Tennessee River systems in Northeast Alabama. Unfortunately at this time, in the early nineties, waterfowl populations were at an all time low. However, despite the low numbers of waterfowl we still managed to harvest a few birds which hooked me to the sport. In later years hunts have taken me to other parts of the Mississippi Flyway into Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
As my passion for waterfowl hunting developed it not only took me to other states but it encouraged me to further develop my skills and tools to become a better hunter. One of my favorite tools has become making my own gunning decoys.
My interest to carve my own decoys was sparked through reading about
the end of the market hunting era, and how the old timers were making
and hunting over large numbers of hand made blocks. Unable to buy wooden
birds during my college days, I decided that it would be cheaper to carve
my own decoy than to purchase one. I carved my first balsa decoy in 1995.
Over the next three years I was learning on my own through research and
a lot of trial and error.
By 1998 I began taking initiative to meet and talk to well known carvers across the country to improve my carving skills. A contact I made in 1999 turned out to be my greatest mentor, Bill Kell, from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. With the input of Bill and other established carvers, I have made great improvements in my birds. In the Fall of 2000 I felt confident enough to enter a traditional hunting decoy competition. In that first competition, I won Best of Divers with a drake Bufflehead. As I have continued to compete, I have won several Best of Species, Best of Class, and my first Best of Show in the fall of 2002.
Recognition and ribbons have been great to receive but I know that the real judges are ducks and geese that make their journey southward each year. Now as I hunt, the excitement is even greater than it was years ago, as I see waterfowl settle among a spread of my handmade decoys.
If you are interested in purchasing one of my decoys you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck hunting!