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Creating a World Rig

A master carver explains the carving and painting techniques that helped him win six titles at the Ward World Championship

By: Tom Christie
Updated September 30, 2021

My love of waterfowl began early in life during Indiana duck hunting outings with my dad. Those early sights and sounds of hail calls echoing in the marsh, migratory flocks flying overhead, and mallards dropping in to our decoy spread left me with a deep appreciation for the great outdoors and for the beauty and diversity of waterfowl.

My love of waterfowl decoys began later in life. In 1986 I made my first rig of three decoys to add to my diver spread. They were goldeneyes, made from basswood and hollowed. I had been hunting on the Portage River in northern Ohio at the time and could not get goldeneyes to come in to my bluebill decoys. Instead of buying plastic goldeneye decoys, I thought I would try my hand at decoy carving. I had always enjoyed drawing, sculpting, painting, and woodworking. Carving decoys combined several of those things and added the excitement of luring wildfowl into gunning range with something I created with my own hands. I had no clue how to make decoys at that time but found a book at the library that provided the basics I needed. The thrill of seeing goldeneyes wheel and drop in to my homemade three-bird rig was the spark that has driven my passion for decoy carving from that moment on.

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