A Gadwall Trio

Three birds make one rig, so they have to work together

By: Tom Christie
Photograph courtesy The Ward Museum by Alan Wycheck

Gadwalls are one of my favorite species of waterfowl. I especially love the beautiful colors and feather patterns of the drakes. The subtle body vermiculation, gray tertials, intricate lacework on the breast, and buff/brown/rust tones of the head contrast beautifully with the jet-black rump, golden hues in the scapulars, burnt sienna wing patches, and striking white speculum. These combinations are indeed beautiful, but they also make this species a challenge to carve and paint realistically.

I have done well with gadwalls over the past 30-plus years of competition. This article will focus on the creation of my 2017 World rig that placed third at the Ward World Championship. I will take you through the construction of the rig from start to finish and will focus on the creative process, as opposed to step-by-step “how to carve and paint” instructions. My hope is that you can pick up a few things that you can apply to your own carvings.

This World rig was special to me because I created these decoys to give to my three children for Christmas. I wanted to make something they could enjoy and pass along to their own children. This is a wonderful part of the decoy carving and collecting tradition.

I hope you will find this article helpful. Gadwalls can certainly be challenging, but some effort will leave you with something you can be proud of. Good carving to you!


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