Decoys I have known
Some longtime friends, Gary and Margaret Sibbald, of Barbeau, Mich., gave me a duck decoy the other day.
It’s a wooden diving duck decoy that her father/his father-in-law used many years ago on the St. Mary’s River. It was lost for some time in a barn – so it wasn’t sold or given away with others in the family’s possession – but then found and put on display in Gary and Margaret’s home for many, many years.
We’re not sure who carved it or painted it, but we do know it was a “working” decoy in its day. It still holds its original paint, a lead anchor fastened to the wooden keel, and a bent nail that served to hold the anchor line. The hollow eye sockets probably once held yellow glass eyes, typical of diving ducks. Many years ago, Gary carved a stand out of barn wood to center the keel and properly display this work of art.
The decoy is a treasure to have in my collection, to say the least. I was so thankful to receive it.
Adding this one to the fleet made me go out into the garage and look at the decoys I have in my possession.
Good golly, I have too many.
Most of them are plastic, but some of those plastic decoys are from the late 1960s – decoys my father bought when his kids weren’t old enough to carry guns. We still use them every season.
Some of the decoys are wood or cork that friends have carved or have secured for me. I have a good number of Herter’s foam decoys that a friend sold to me many, many years ago. A duck guide, he floated them for years and they are still working decoys – I love how those Herter’s “blocks” float on the waves in rough weather.
I’ve tried cutting down on the fleet. I don’t have the room to hold on to so many. I’ve given away some to students getting into the sport, sold many others, acquired more – it is difficult to sort through the ones that I want to keep. There are so many different shapes, sizes, memories….
The newest decoy to join my group will not be thrown out from the boat in anticipation of shooting ducks over it. It won’t be a working decoy, even though it once was. It will be on display in our house, as it was in the Sibbalds’.
It is a welcome addition, and every time I look at it, I’ll think of Gary and Margaret, and Margaret’s father on Neebish Island, and everyone else who has given me a decoy. And I’ll be grateful to them for thinking enough of me to ask me to hold this decoy in my collection.