Spring Is Bustin’ Out All Over!
And you say, “Well, not where I live, Buster!” I know, I know… I’m writing this column the last week in February, and even in North Carolina it still seems more like winter than spring. Three weeks ago we got 15 inches of snow here at the farm; and most recently we’ve had enough rain to float Noah’s ark! But this very day, February 23rd, the mercury hit 65 degrees and Ol’ Mr. Sun has not been hidden by a single cloud that I’ve noticed. So… It does sort of seem like Spring may not be all that far away. Hope not!
Meanwhile, only this far into my column, our many friends in the Upper Midwest and Canada and New England (and almost everywhere!) are probably saying, “Has he lost his mind? Talking about Spring bustin’ out all over! Well it is!!! If you just look at the COVER of this Mar-Apr issue!
And so you flip the page and take another look at the cover picture… And, if you’re a kind and open-minded person, you may whisper to yourself, “Well it does look kind of “Spring-y.” But why is he wasting his column yapping about the weather. Doesn’t he know this magazine is supposed to be about all kinds of old hunting and fishing stuff… Whoops, I mean… about all kinds of “rare and valuable hunting and fishing artifacts!”
And then I get to gleefully say, “Bingo!” Yes, of course, absolutely! To be sure, the cover picture does have springtime written all over it, but that’s NOT the main reason I chose it. Look at all those funky signs. Read what they say. Then try to tell yourself, “I’d never stop at a place like that! Probably nothing of any value there. Just a lot of junk!”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the old Decoy Shop pictured on the cover is exactly the kind of place that most of us couldn’t possibly pass up. Granted, we wouldn’t really expect to find a treasure there – a 5 or 6-figure decoy or an absolutely pristine, super-rare fly rod or reel. Of course not! But it is the kind of shop, in the kind of setting that makes a true collector’s heart beat fast.
The “setting.” Oh, yes, the setting, the place, the location – Duck, North Carolina on the state’s famous “Outer Banks.” Today it’s famous as a summer beach resort, but ’twas not always so! Real hunters and real fishermen worked the sea and shore for countless years. And in more modern times Big City “Sports” came to “play” there. And so… Early on, so to speak, local craftsmen (Hunters and Fishermen) created the “tools of their trade,” some of which are highly collectible artifacts today. And later… the well-heeled “Sports” brought expensive “toys” (decoys, etc.) with them, some of which (perhaps many) were left behind when they returned to the “Big Cities.”
A final word about the COVER photo. Today the carver, Maurice Pease, and his wife, Bea, are a part of mostly unrecorded history. I looked for his story in several decoy books that focus on Currituck Sound and Outer Banks carvers but came up empty. James Nelson and his son from Pennsylvania, however, discovered Pease in 1979. You’ll find Jim’s account of the little known carver, along with photos inside this issue.
There are several other ground-breaking stories in this new issue of H&FC. Dr. Steve Irwin chronicles the first of a two-part series that describes the history, achievements, and artifacts of the “Great Hunters from the North” – the Eskimos. “Fascinating” and “Extraordinary” barely scratch the surface of their “survival story!”
Dr Irwin begins his historical tale with these words: “The effectiveness and the artistic quality of our duck decoys, calls, lures and fish decoys, along with the outdoor savvy of the market hunters and sportsmen who utilized these items, is the “stuff” that gives our collections their appeal. Hunting and fishing have been happening for a long time in North America – perhaps more than 15,000 years. Our First Americans, the Indians and Eskimos (Inuit) were, simply stated, the greatest hunters and fishermen the earth has ever known.”
Mike Turner, from England, longtime collector of American decoys, wanted to come back at least “one more time” to renew old acquaintances and vist longtime friends. He had to agree to his wife’s forced promise of “No more decoys!” in order to get her blessing for the trip. Of course, it’s an easy guess as to whether or not he kept his promise! Read all about his fun trip inside these pages.
Chuck and Margaret Ondrick take us to the far North of Michigan’s “UP” – the Upper Peninsula, “a region covered with a vast amount of forest, lakes, rivers and ancient worn-down mountains, sparsely populated, wild and beautiful with plentiful game and fish. They are talking spearfishing history, of course!
Bob Poel, whose research into Sibley factory decoys has provided us with considerable information that “we didn’t know before,” tells us about “the other” factory decoy that had an inserted bill, the Bresnahan! “Breaking News,” sure enough.
Anyway, lots of very interesting reading in this latest rendition of old H&FC Magazine. Hope you enjoy! And… Hope “Spring really IS “Bustin’ out all over” wherever you may live! “Happy collecting, everybody!”