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Featured Decoy

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This Canvasback drake is a handcrafted replica of the solid wood decoys common during the 1800's. It is finished in the Eastern Shore style with a flat bottom and weighted keel. The Canvasback and the Chesapeake Bay are inseparable and the use of Canvasback decoys was common. The Canvasback was very popular as a table delicacy, which led to it being highly prized by the market hunter during the “battery shooting” days before the turn of the century. Oversized decoys were used in Back Bay, Virginia where hunters gunned for the Canvasback and Redhead.

The Canvasback is a large, sleek duck with a sloping profile. It is a sea and bay duck and is one of the largest and heaviest ducks in North America.

The Canvasback breeds from Alaska to Nebraska and Minnesota. It winters in coastal regions especially in Chesapeake Bay and Currituck Sound. Canvasbacks nest in marshes and the interior from British Columbia, to Massachusetts, to the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Valley.

The Canvasback forages in open water, diving from the surface, using its wings to propel itself 20-25 feet to the bottom to get the buds and roots of wild celery (an eel grass). Unfortunately the Canvasback often loses its meal when an awaiting Widgeon steals it as the duck surfaces.

The flesh of sea ducks that feed on mollusks, crustaceans and other marine food is said to be less palatable, even inedible—and yet the Canvasback was considered a delicacy. As in yesteryear, it is important to take the Canvasback while the supply of wild celery and other vegetable matter is available. Once the Canvasback has to resort to an animal diet such as fish and lizards, its flesh can become tough and inedible. However, due to declining numbers, there are no open seasons for hunting this duck currently in most states.

The use of decoys by early Native American peoples was proven by the discovery of aboriginal decoys during excavations of the Lovelock Cave in Nevada. Two kinds of decoys were found. One type was of stuffed or mounted skins, the other, wholly artificial bird made of bull-rush was that of a Canvasback.

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