The majority of Virginia carvers are primarily from two Virginia counties -- Accomac to the north, and Northampton, which extends to the tip of the peninsula where the Chesapeake and Atlantic meet. Chincoteague Island is a barrier island in Accomac County and characterizes the area known as the "Eastern Shore."
Decoy carving here dates to before the time of market gunning with Ira Hudson known as perhaps the most innovative and prolific carver in the area. His decoys are characterized by round weighted bottoms and simplistic painting. Most were made from white pine and cedar, and of solid construction. Hudson's decoys show a great deal of artistic foresight and he is known to have carved many species including black ducks, mallards, pintails, brant, geese, bluebills, canvasbacks, buffleheads, goldeneyes, red-breasted mergansers, hooded mergansers, as well as various shorebirds. The usual method used to attach the head to the body was to place the neck down into a carved out hollow. Hudson normally used tack eyes and often used the scratch feather painting technique. He was also known for unusual head positions.
Another Chincoteague carver was Dave Watson who lived both in Willis Wharf, Virginia, and Chincoteague. He proceeded Ira Hudson and Miles Hancock as a carver and made many decoys for the famous Gooseville Hunting Club in Hatteras, North Carolina. His decoys were characterized by hollow bodies made from white pine and were painstakingly carved and painted with glass eyes placed in carved eye grooves. He primarily made brant, geese, and black ducks, as well as a few canvasbacks, redheads, pintails, bluebills, and shorebirds.
Miles Hancock's decoys were inexpensive and not very stylish but extremely serviceable. They tended to be a bit oversized and usually were made of cottonwood, which was light and floated well. Hancock's decoys were all solid construction with flat bottoms and tack eyes. He usually made brant, geese, black ducks, bluebills, canvasbacks, buffleheads, goldeneyes, red-breasted and hooded mergansers, and pintails.
Other noted Eastern Shore carvers include Charles Edward Jester, Doug Jester, and William Matthews; as well as Charlie Clark who is best known for his shorebird decoys with their distinctive "skinny necks and knobby heads."
Down the coast is Northampton County , the town of Willis Wharf and Cobb Island. Charlie Birch was a commercial decoy maker who was born in Maryland and moved to Willis Wharf in 1906. His decoys were both hollow construction and solid; fairly well carved with simplistic painting. He made black ducks, brant, geese, redheads, pintails, and buffleheads; and is also known to have made at least one rig of swan decoys.
The best known Northampton County decoys are those from Cobb Island. Nathan Cobb and his family settled on the island in 1833 and became market gunners, hunting guides, ship salvagers, and decoy carvers. Their decoys were unlike those of other Eastern Shore carvers and more like those made by the Massachusetts school.
Generally, the Cobb Island decoys are slightly oversized; usually hollow construction, with the neck and head inlaid. Bills are also often inlaid into the head. Cobb decoys are particularly known for the many different life-like attitudes of the heads, with each made of root or driftwood and different for each finished decoy. Cobb decoys also had glass eyes and flat bottoms. Ballast weights were sheet or flattened lead attached with brass screws.