South Carolina

Joel Barber, the dean of American decoy collectors, noted in his book Wild Fowl Decoys, that "The southern gunner, while a user, has never been a maker of decoys...." So until about 1980 no examples of hand-crafted decoys from South Carolina were known.

Then collectors became aware of a small group of beautifully carved decoys found near the coastal town of Georgetown, South Carolina, made by a group of brothers who were raised and lived in and around the marshes north of Georgetown. Hucks, Sawney, Pluty, Ball, and Bob Caines were commercial fishermen and gunners who lived at a settlement called Caines Village on Muddy Bay and Pumpkinseed Island from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s.

The Caine brothers shot ducks and rail in the surrounding rice fields and marshes for market and carved unique and stylistic lures characterized by sloped breasts, rounded neck seats in which elegantly carved "snakey-necks" were set and with a shallow behind the neck to help hold the anchor line. The bodies of the majority of Caine decoys have some form of raised -wing carving and some split-tails. Most of the Caine decoys were solid construction; however, a few hollow decoys have been identified. The head and neck were generally carved from one piece of wood, usually tupelo gum or cypress, with elongated bills and carved eyes.

Another unique characteristic of Caine decoys is that some were constructed with a peg under the bill, apparently added to prevent the bills from damage during usage. The Caines primarily crafted mallards, black ducks, and pintails.