I have a couple friends that recently developed an interest in collecting duck decoys. They asked me what I look for in an Illinois River bird. Well, here goes...
My particular likes are fairly simple, for me older is better. One of my favorite decoys is an old Elliston Mallard Hen I bought from the Joe French Collection. It isn't a great decoy, but its age, original paint, and of course the weight with Elliston stamped on it is a great combo.
I prefer original paint, but don't mind "old" hunter repaints. The paint job on most Illinois River decoys are very life-like, even in today's decoy world.
The big name carvers are always nice to look at but some names don't get enough attention. Mario Pioletti from Spring Valley seems to fly under the radar in a lot of decoy circles. Another interesting name is Julio Busto from Depue who made some very nice birds with good paint jobs. After talking with these young fellas for a while, they came to the same conclusion: Just find one you like and buy it!
I will end this post with a list of ten carvers, in no particular order, I like that don't get noticed as much as the big names but are keeper decoys.
- Mario Pioletti - Very good paint on his birds.
- Julio Busto - Nice curves, few decoys made.
- Fred Destri - Excellent feather painting.
- William Zarnicki - Nice carvings, birds are a little oversized.
- Coleman Bassett - Great Illinois River characteristics.
- Chiado decoys - Many to choose from, hunting birds.
- Fred Coleman - Very nice miniatures.
- Koehler decoys - Made by several family members, stamped weights.
- Bill Williams - Older birds, tough to find.
- Goose Podowicz - Earlier birds, although hard to find, are very nicely crafted.