Carving Out a Decoy Tradition

Carving Out a Decoy Tradition

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Swooping down the Atlantic Flyway from the cold of Canada each fall, endless flocks of colorful ducks and geese migrate to the warmer Susquehanna Flats of the Upper Chesapeake Bay. The small dabbling green-winged teals and the large Canada geese fly to nest for winter. Thousands of waterfowls, such as the greater scaup, redheads, and most importantly, the canvasbacks, land in Maryland’s shallow waters to feed on the lush grasses and celery seed.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the birds so blanketed the sky that hunters flocked to the city of Havre de Grace at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay to shoot for sport and profit.

The Carvers Gallery at the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum. 

As duck hunting flourished so did the local carvers, who early on hand-chopped duck decoys for the growing sport. But over the years the grass beds fell to pollution, the big flocks of ducks were depleted by overshooting and lack of habitat and laws were stiffened to protect remaining waterfowl. Residents of Havre de Grace, wanting to preserve the hunting and decoy heritage of the area, launched the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum and the annual Decoy & Wildlife Art Festival to support the museum.

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