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#553275 - 08/23/19 09:36 AM My all in the name decoy.
KY Jon Offline

Registered: 03/09/02
Posts: 6295
Loc: Red State
I recently added another canvasback decoy to my collection of working decoys. Different areas had different distinct styles of how they carved and painted their decoys but this one I bought as much for the name of the carver as the decoy itself. I had seen his decoys in the Ward Brother Museum, Salisbury Maryland, which is a fair endorsement in itself. They are a shorter, more blocky decoy which I suspect did well on the rough Lake Erie, where they were hunted.

Note the head and part of the breast are carved as a unit. This reduces the neck area breaking from rough handling. This is his "normal' head position but he also made "sleeping" and a high "head" position which is rarely seen. Can't decide if the high head is alarm, or extreme interest. When you see one you can guess. Like to see how it rides in the water when it gets rough. Bet he knew what he was doing. They all did. Decoys were for working, not decoration so if they did not ride well nobody wanted to buy them. Would be fun to gun over a spread of these birds back in the day.

Edward F. Kellie, or Edward F. "One Arm" Kellie, 1883-1955.

#553276 - 08/23/19 10:25 AM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
Lawrence Kotchek Offline

Registered: 01/01/02
Posts: 200
nice bird - all I hunt over anymore is cork or wood. They ride so much nicer

#553278 - 08/23/19 11:15 AM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
Geo. Newbern Offline

Registered: 01/02/02
Posts: 6767
Loc: Georgia, USA
I'm no collector, but I always try to keep a couple of wood decoys in my rig...Geo

They give me something cool to look at when the the ducks aren't flying!

Edited by Geo. Newbern (08/23/19 02:44 PM)
Edit Reason: added final sentence

#553280 - 08/23/19 12:01 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
Daryl Hallquist Offline

Registered: 12/31/01
Posts: 5534
Loc: Bozeman, Mt.
KY, I love posts like this when we can learn something that is in our interest range. Thanks

#553281 - 08/23/19 12:33 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
KY Jon Offline

Registered: 03/09/02
Posts: 6295
Loc: Red State
20-25 years ago, when I was still hunting off the Chesapeake Bay, I took a doctor from up around Easton. Big dollar fellow, bigger ego. Dropped him off at the blind and I set out the decoys. I had a dozen Ward Brother mallards carved decoys and about the same of a mixed group of black ducks and a couple Cans, carved by men from Chincoteague VA., Chrisfield MD and Smith Island VA. A nice working group of decoys, that I hunted with once or twice a year.

He had no clue what I had out there because the decoys were in bags for the trip and I sat them out in total darkness, but once he did he just about went crazy. He was a collector of decoys, who fancied himself as the leading expert in the area. Highly worried that we, meaning me, would shoot low and damage these decoys, he wanted to go look at the decoy instead of hunt. I refused to stop my hunt and proceeded to have a fine morning. I don't think he hit anything, worrying about the decoys so much, but maybe he was just a natural bad shot. He spent most of the time trying to figure out what I had and their value. He was some type of expert in his mind. Maybe he was in his circle.

When we picked up he handled every decoy like they were the holy grail. So did I in a way. I had towels to clean them off before I put them back into their custom made decoy bags. Ward Brother decoys are well known around the Bay. One of the carvers from Smith Island, he had heard about, but never seen an example of his work. Small chance that I'll find anymore from that fellow. Think he died just after WWII and decoys got used up, beat up and thrown out as junk long before they became collectable. All those carved decoys got fewer in number every year until machine made then plastic decoys replaced them.

When we got back to where I put the boat in, he decided to see if he could buy my spread. His first offer was a lowball offer, I guess expecting I had no understanding what ther were. When I laughed he increased it. But as I explaind to him on the ride back to my house, I had absoletly no interest in selling. Told him the marsh we hunted was mine and I would hunt it and with these decoys as long as I could.

Ward Brother decoys had been cleaned up a bit and touched up by Lem Ward shortly after I found them at a trash dump, then signed by both brothers. The best two were just left as found and signed. A true collector would have been unhappy with any cleanup but after 40 plus years of limited use, the new paint blends in perfectly with the old. And working decoys got repainted or touched up almost every year when they were being used. I still have that spread but have not hunted over them in many years. I intend to take a couple out every trip this Fall as they have earned the right to go hunting again. And I will add "One Arm Kellie" to the spread once in awhile and I'll think of Geo when I do because I agree decoys were made to be hunted with, not admired like a perfect breast without touching.

#553282 - 08/23/19 12:48 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
LeFusil Offline

Registered: 10/28/06
Posts: 1550
Loc: Utah
Beautiful Deke. Iíve always loved woods and corkers. With my style of waterfowling, using them is just too impractical. Hunting potholes and salt marshes, I usually carry my dekes on my back and the hunting can be pretty rough on them. I have a small collection of antique dekes, but they donít leave the house.
Most waterfowlers (especially ďnewĒ waterfowlers) would probably laugh at my current pile of dekes....theyíre butt ugly, but I donít struggle to harvest birds either. Odd, isnít it? I tend to concentrate more on bird behavior, habits, scouting locations, getting into the right spots, weather, setting the spread, calling techniques, etc. than I do on how well painted, flocked, or what brand of decoy Iím using.

Some old timers I knew back when I hunted the Platte in Nebraska hunted birds over decoys they made using burlap sacks....they were 1 color and didnít look anything like a bird. Those guys almost always brought in birds. Amazing.

#553285 - 08/23/19 01:51 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
Jim Cloninger Offline

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 212
Loc: CA
Jon, you have a fantastic rig of decoys. Getting a few back in the water is the right thing to do. I have a rig of 15 hand carved Mallard and Pintail that I stack up on the decoy rack of my cedar Barnagat Bay Sneak Box that I hunt every year.
NRA Life Member

#553286 - 08/23/19 02:16 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
GLS Offline

Registered: 03/23/11
Posts: 3182
Loc: Lowcountry, GA
Very nice gunning decoy...The different regional styles and materials used give these old blocks unique character. The hollow Illinois River birds by Perdew and Graves, the beautiful blocks carved and painted by Lem and Steve Ward of the Eastern Shore and the unique style of the Louisiana birds carved by Cajuns from tupelo buttswells are artifacts from a bygone era and are true works of American folk art. Even the old factory decoys by Dodge and Mason are valuable hand painted works of art. Copley's summer auction this July sold a trio of hollow black bellied plover shorebird gunning decoys by A. Elmer Crowell for 1.14 million dollars. Gil

#553289 - 08/23/19 06:20 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
MRPetro Offline

Registered: 04/30/17
Posts: 23
Wood and cork decoys make a great presentation, Iíve sold most off since I donít get to go any more, still have some old llbean cork geese that I plan to sell off but thatís about it........enjoy those dekes!

#553292 - 08/23/19 07:49 PM Re: My all in the name decoy. [Re: KY Jon]
BrentD Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 3877
Loc: Iowa
Beautiful decoy. I don't collect them or know much about the old ones, but I do like them. Anything with history.

I have one old wooden, hollow, mallard hen, that was passed down to me, but I know nothing of its history, or maker.
.paid 4 May 2019

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