The Sibley Hunting Rig

 The Hennepin Shooting Club first opened its doors in 1887.In 1886, the club's president and the landowner of the grounds it would lease wrote letters about how bad hunting conditions had gotten on the grounds owing to lack of control over the shooting area and need for organization and a caretaker. Money was no problem since the individuals who proposed the club were all successful Chicago businessmen who enjoyed hunting. Because of this, a large houseboat was built to accommodate the grounds. The homeboat was moored at the mouth of Brimfield Slough, which opened into the Illinois River and emptied into Hennepin Lake. The boat was then taken to Hennepin and converted into a home, which still exists with some improvements. The site initially housed the Hennepin Drainage District, which is now known as the Hennepin Drainage District. In 1914, when Hennepin Lake dried up, the club came to an end.

The Senechwine Gun Club was founded in the opposite side of the Illinois River, which is now one of the most popular duck hunting areas on the river. Sibley's identity was so elusive because he stopped hunting in Illinois in 1901 and moved to Colorado, stopping the production of his decoys and taking his hunting rig with him. According to his descendants, George continued to hunt waterfowl using his decoys in Colorado until his death in 1938.

Prior to this relocation, George resided and worked in Chicago. It appears that he established the decoy factory in Whitehall, Michigan, around 1899 when he applied for his patent, as his cousin ran a large sawmill there. George's letters mention traveling to Whitehall, but his Chicago home was where his other firm, a commission merchant house, was located.

The Sibley decoy Pamphlet called the decoy "modeled and painted from specimens provided by the greatest taxidermist in Chicago." George's friend, James Cunningham, Hennepin, was a wonderful companion. In fact, when a new caretaker was brought in to replace Cunningham, he was advised by George not to contact any of the members unless they wrote to him first.

After Cunningham was accused of not warning the others, but rather George of good hunting days, the club adopted a by-law prohibiting it.

Nevertheless, the Senachwine Skiff, a 16-foot sheet iron punt boat that was popular on the Illinois River, was designed by Cunningham. He is also credited with making duck calls, so he might have assisted George in designing his decoys. George's son remembers seeing his father working on decoys in the basement workshop of their Colorado home, but never making any himself. We think that the Sibley decoys were made on a similar production line to Mason decoys. The components were turned on a lathe and hand-finished.

The Sibley Company created mallard, canvasback, redhead, bluebill, ringbill, pintail, widgeon, and blue-winged teal decoys that were sold by the dozen for 12 dollars each. For 50 cents each, a flat bell-shaped anchor and string were made; they were dyed a neutral hue. The finely carved faces with professional taxidermist eyes were finished off with bills that could be carved down to natural proportions and were constructed of hardwood, producing natural-looking decoys. Because the cavity was terraced, the two-piece bodies appear to have been hollowed out by machine. The body cavity was fitted with a strip of strap steel, as previously noted. George attempted to patent the practice and mitered bills, which were features he employed. The leather strap around the bottom of each breast served as an anchor line.

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