‘Way back’ in the early and mid-1900s, when there were few restrictions on hunting ducks and geese, many Bay-area farmers, watermen and their peers depended on the take from waterfowl hunting to keep them supplied with fresh meat all winter. They used decoys, carved to be used in the field and not as decorative pieces, to lure the desired abundant waterfowl close to their hunting blinds. Today, these decoys are prized for the Bay history they represent, and the Friends and Refuge are fortunate to have a collection of vintage decoys, carved by local carvers, on display in the visitor center. The decoys were donated by Friends member Dave Sorflaten of Rock Hall, who remembers “shooting over” the decoys; that is, he actually used them for hunting. Most of them are not what we would call ‘pretty’ – they are not the flashy, brightly-painted, detailed decoys we might see for sale in gift or souvenir shops around the Bay. They look like they’ve been used for the purpose for which they were made.
You can find this display, now made larger by other donations from Friends and some contemporary local carvers, in the room next to the bookstore.