The Delta Marsh Canvasback

There's a lot of history behind these simple decoys.

By: Text and Photography by Keith Hendrickson
A couple of Ducharme carved blocks enter the water

I’ve always been interested in decoys that look old. Learning the specifics about some antiques has helped me carve my own renditions of classic decoys and actually hunt over them. In the series of articles I am starting in this issue, I will interview carvers who are considered masters of particular decoy schools and learn about the details that define those decoy styles. Each article will include a pattern and a short tutorial on how to carve your own version of that pattern. I’ll try to keep the series interesting by covering not only waterfowl decoys, but also some shorebirds.

When I started thinking about subjects to cover, the first person who came to mind was Pat Gregory. Pat is an Illinois carver who carves and hunts over many northern styles of historic decoys. He carves Illinois River blocks, Michigan feather-stamped blocks, and also a Canadian style that looks like no others. A water-fowling purist who carves with traditional tools, uses traditional classic boats, and hunts over hand-carved decoys, Pat is the great-grandson of famed Illinois River carver George “Homerun” Barto of Tiskelwa, Illinois. He learned to carve from mentor Art Behemetuik, who was one of Barto’s students. Pat started carving in 1984 and makes 100 to 200 decoys a year.


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