The Early Louisiana Decoy Collectors

Residents of Louisiana have gone all out to construct unique yet useful decoys for use in the marshes where they hunted ducks. The majority of the wooden decoys produced in Louisiana were constructed with local woods like cypress and tupelo, which abounded in the region's extensive marshes. Many were carved in an animated style with sweeping backs and vivid paint patterns.

The Louisiana Wildfowl Carvers and Collector's Guild (LWCCG) claims that Louisiana has the greatest number of Ward World Championship decoy carving champions and master carvers in the United States.

The association, which was founded in 1975, claims that the modern decoy carving era began roughly 60 years ago. This coincides with the opinions of many collectors of ancient Louisiana hunting decoys. The 1950s also saw the year that Clovis Vizier's well-carved mallard pair took second place in the 1951 North American Decoy Makers' Contest in New York City, just as it did for several other pieces from the same decade.

Vizier descendants Jimmy Vizier and Andrew "Tan" Brunet from Galliano, Louisiana, each won multiple best in show honors and frequently took others at the Ward World Championship (the Super Bowl of decoy carving) in the 1970s and 1980s.

Working decoys have been carved in every state, though the heart of the craft was almost certainly New Orleans. A wide geographic area was covered, and more than a thousand artists (the most in any state) were involved (although the majority of the activity took place there). With so many skilled carvers all over the world, it's tough to name even a few as the greatest of the best. Nicole Vidacovich, on the other hand, is highly regarded among collectors. The Whipples were a prominent family in the region, and their carvings are prized by collectors. Mark Whipple, for example, was one of the most talented of these great creators.

Duck decoy carving is popular throughout North America, although the designs and materials vary by region. In Louisiana, common materials include cypress root or tupelo gum.

Decorative decoys, those intended for collectors, are known as “shelf pieces” in Louisiana. In a private sale in 2007, two such decoys carved by Massachusetts carver A. Elmer Crowell sold for $1.13 million each: a preening pintail drake and a sleeping Canada goose. On eBay, vintage decoys that have been used in Louisiana marshes and have shotgun-pellet scars on them regularly sell for thousands of dollars.

Scroll to top