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Antique Decoy Collecting



Arlen Axdahl

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 Decorative carved decoy - possibly a wood duck Decorative Carved Duck Decoy
Though we are an art web site, we know art is in the eye of the beholder. Decoys are art to the thousands and thousands of sportsmen who enjoy both the sport of waterfowl hunting and decoy collecting in the USA and around the world. As such these collectors want to buy, sell, or trade decoys for their pleasure or profit. I, Arlen Axdahl, have decided to add a DECOYS FOR SALE section to our site to meet the needs of collectors wanting to buy or sell decoys and for those who enjoy learning more about decoys as art.

Being a member of Minnesota Decoy Collectors Association, MDCA, for several years, one starts to get a feel for the size of the art of collecting antique decoys whether they be, ducks, geese, crows, cranes, fish decoys or deer, the list is endless, and still growing. Each year the association publishes a flyer promoting the annual show and detailing what will happen at the show. You will find the flyer on their page on the Internet. When it has been published you can also find it on our "Coming Attractions" page.

There are hundreds of books and decoy shows displaying the work of carvers. Also included in the books and shows are the manufacturers that turned decoys out by the tens of thousands for years like Mason, to name one manufacturer. This is a testament to the size and depth of this hobby that millions of people enjoy a great deal.

Historically, early native American Indians used decoys to lure the wild fowl close to there bows and arrows. The tule duck decoy was discovered to have been used by the Northern Paiute Indians over a 1000 years ago to decoy the wildfowl in so their arrows would hit the mark. (Learn to make a tule duck decoy. More background on the tule duck decoy.)

A canvasback, wrapped in feathers was depicted on the Nevada State duck print in 1979 painted By Mr. Larry Hayden, the artist being from Michigan, depicting a hunk of wood with feathers wrapped around it to attract the birds to blinds of the early Indians in the later, American southwest, just like the ones used by the Paiute Indians a thousand years ago.

Other decoys have been used in the same capacity, as a first of sate, or federal design. An example would be the 1981 Massachusetts waterfowl stamp print, the Red Breasted Merganser, by an unknown carver, plus many others.

I personally remember the young days of my life on the farm in Southwestern Minnesota when hunting season started, I could barely sleep at night. I would go outside in the darkness to listen to the cry of the wild geese heading south for the season. Wondering where they were going, if they would be in dads fields in the early morning and feeding on the left over corn or beans.
Animal Trap - Sears Roebuck Mallard Drake decoy Animal Trap - Sears Roebuck, 1941-42
One of the first decoys on this page are from that era, my oldest brother, Donald, was the master hunter bagging a bird or birds nearly every time that he went hunting… 

The Animal trap decoy on this page is one he bought from Sears & Roebuck catalogue with money he had saved up. For luring the mallards close to his position in the long grasses. This animal trap has to be approx 50 - 60 years old. It was rescued from an old model A Ford in the grove back of the house. 

There are many variables affecting the price of a decoy. Variables that affect the value of either decorative or working decoys are the condition, original paint, name of the carver, year carved, etc. Please let the buyer & seller beware. We are not experts. Buyers should seek advice when purchasing these items unless you are knowledgeable about them.

We are now accepting ads of decoys for sale. See the ad rates page for all rules and costs to to list your decoy on the site.


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Last updated  January 21st, 2021.

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