In short, a decoy duck resembles a real duck. They were used in duck hunting to attract real ducks. Originally these ducks were carved from wood, even cork. Modern ducks are made from canvas or plastic. They are painted to look like a genuine duck. Historical ducks today are collector’s pieces and the price can run into many thousands of dollars.
The beautiful decoy ducks featured in this post were made by John vd Westhuizen, my dear old dad. He is a master craftsman and has made everything from guitars to grandfather clocks. He has been a carpenter for 70 years!
These ducks are ornamental. They are not intended for use. The ducks are made from solid blocks of wood, one for the head and another for the body. The woods are indigenous to South Africa and include Natal Mahogany, Jacaranda, African Flame and Flamboyant. The eyes are made from wood as well. They are beautifully finished – smooth to the touch with that wonderful ‘gleam’ from well varnished and polished wood. With age the woods get richer and darker, and regular polishing will enhance the grain of the woods. Each one is a collector’s item, one of a kind.
These ducks are not painted, but the artist engraved feather outlines on the ducks, which gives them their identity.
I am the proud owner of the pair of ducks in the above image. The large one is a pintail, and the smaller one is a drake hooded merganser. Here you can clearly see the markings of the feathers.
Copyright © John van der Westhuizen. Decoy Ducks, Wood Artist. South Africa.