“There is no feeling in the world like that of seeing ducks dropping out of a winter sky coming to decoys that you have made with your own hands. Sometimes I can’t even shoot, the sight is so beautiful. Carving decoys lets a man understand in a very personal way that there is so much more to hunting ducks than shooting them.” – Charles Frank, Southern Living Magazine, 1985
Folk Art, or Fine?…It’s All Fantastic To Me
Simply said, I absolutely love vintage sporting books, wildlife art, and all manners of hunting and fishing collectables…but decoys ride the shimmering waves high above them all. They make my heart sing, and the look of a good one almost always takes my breath away.
Why this is, exactly, I could never say for sure, or should I say – completely. The full battery of descriptive words elude me still.
Nor can I tell you why the mere sight of them always seems to cause that sudden catch in my throat, or fully activate the location of that special human gene that causes the quickening of the hunter’s heart.
What I can say is that New Jersey decoys are a special breed of bird, and that some of the best of the breed can be found at The Baymen’s Museum at The Tuckerton Seaport in Tuckerton, New Jersey.
Below are some photographs that I took at the museum in July 2016. Mere images cannot truly do them justice, for to enjoy the full effect you must take it all in for yourself.
I have done that myself, several times – but there has never been enough time to fully satisfy that mysterious part inside of me that always wants for more.
So don’t make my mistake. Set aside an hour or two…perhaps an afternoon, to wander the museum and contemplate these wonderful works of art. Steep yourself in the history and lore of the great bays, and learn just a bit of the lives of the carver’s that made it all possible.
There’s plenty of room. You may find me there too, close at hand, but far, far away…watching…searching…for those things that only a hunter sees.
All Photographs by Michael Patrick McCarty
For more Information and a photographic history of more than 700 New Jersey ducks, geese, and shorebirds, you may wish to purchase a copy of New Jersey Decoys by Henry A. Fleckenstein, Jr. In Hardcover edition, 270 pages, 1983.
Another great reference is Barnegat Bay Decoys and Gunning Clubs by Patricia H. Burke. Published by Ocean County Historical Society, Toms River, New Jersey in 1985. In softcover wraps; 44 pages.
We usually have copies of each in stock. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a price quote.