Make It Funky
After you master the basics, you can add a little funk to your decoys.
Decoys you can cut in half down the centerline to get two equal pieces have never appealed to me. I prefer decoys that add a little more, whether they look hungry, excited, or just busy adjusting feathers. Carvings that capture the animation of real birds possess a little funk that separates them from the crowd.
Once you've learned how to carve a basic gunning decoy, you can always start adding some funky elements to your work. I don't intend this article to provide a complete step-by-step guide to the process, but it should point you in the right direction.
For decoys like this chin-scratching merganser, I recommend carving a practice head using a generic pattern. This will help you determine how the various elements relate to each other. I made a practice head of this chin scratcher years ago, and I still use it every time I make a decoy using this pattern style.
This article is from the Summer 2011 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.
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