The Duck Blind Classes

Learn to Carve Decoys!
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Willy McDonald has been teaching decoy carving since the doors of the Duck Blind opened in 1989. Willy's natural ability as a teacher came to light as more and more students signed up for carving classes. His aptitude for breaking down the carving process into easy to understand steps has brought praise from every division of the carving society. From adult education classes at Michigan State University to private seminars across the country, Willy McDonald is sought after for Carving, Painting and Air Brush education.

Additionally Willy's classes are available on DVD which means that carvers can learn the process from the comfort of their own shop. Many hundreds of folks got their start with Willy's guidance and many of them went on to be Blue Ribbon and Best of Show Winners in contests all over the country. For many of the students the greatest reward was just hunting over their own hand carved decoys. What ever carving career path you want to follow it all starts with a good foundation and that is precisely what the The Duck Blind classes are designed to do.

If you are interested in holding a class in your area contact Willy McDonald at The Duck Blind 1-800-852-7352 for information.

2014 Class Schedule

Carve and Paint a Drake Cinnamon Teal

Dates: January 24,25,26, 2014
Place: W K Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Hickory Corners, Michigan (Kalamazoo Area)

Willy McDonald, Honored by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Master Carver and instructor. Best of Show awards include: ODCCA Shootin Stool Contest, North American Decoy Championship, Northwestern Michigan Decoy Show, New Orleans “Best in the Gulf” Championship, Ward Foundation's “Chesapeake Challenge” and the 2007 Michigan Heritage Award.

Class Term and Hours:
Three Day Class (2 carving 1 painting)
Fri, Sat, & Sun- 9am to 5pm each day

$265 per Student (includes Cutout, Pattern, Glass Eyes)
Fee also includes lunch, beverages and Di's Cookies and snacks all three days.
On site KBS housing is available at a very reasonable rate for out of town students. Contacts us for info.

Class Size:
Minimum of 8 Students and Maximum of 12.
If the minimum is not met, all deposits will be refunded.

Class Objective:
To carve and paint a true hunting decoy from cork and basswood. Class will include all aspects of a hunting decoy, including: Carving, Texturing, Painting & Sealing, Keel making, and Weighting. Methods learned in this class can be used to make Hunting Decoys, Decorative Smoothies for Competition, or Natural finish decoys.

Special Instruction:
This class is designed and taught with the beginning student in mind and instruction is step by step to solidify a good carving and painting foundation. Experienced carvers wishing to reinforce or brush up on carving and painting techniques are welcome.

Subject Matter:
Drake Cinnamon Teal
Tools and Carving Methods
Carving will be accomplished primarily using hand tools but WeCheers, Foredoms and like machines will be welcome in class and students may choose carving method of their preference. Students will provide all tools and paints for the project. Tools and paint supplies will be available for sale during class. Cash, Checks, and Credit cards will be accepted for class sales.

Class Deposit:
A deposit of $100 is required to reserve your place in class with balance due the day of the class. Cancellations and refunds can be made up to 14 days before start of class. Class deposits should be sent to The Duck Blind, PO Box 706, Delton, Mi. 49046. You can also use you Visa, Master Card, or Discover for your class fee.

To Reserve Your Spot or for Questions
 Contact: The Duck Blind at 1-800-852-7352

The Duck Blind…..or as I’ve called it for years, The Launch Pad! Ten years ago I was just another duck hunter looking to get more out of an addiction, what could I do to get even more out of every duck hunt I went on, what hobby could I do the would last year round even after the guns were oiled up, the boat put away and all the decoys were stuffed back in the garage attic. A quick search of the internet landed me at, where I found this guy named Willy had seminars and taught classes of people how to carve and paint decoys.

My first seminar was a road show for Willy and Di in a small town near Akron. Man was that weekend an eye opener, for a guy to walk in there with not a clue of any of these steps and to walk out 2 days later with a greenhead decoy that could be hunted over, I was hooked! Over the next few years I did a few more classes, either at the KBS, Westlake or even at Willy and Ma's house, they always greeted me with open arms and took care of my carving needs. So if you are thinking about getting into this great hobby….don’t hesitate to launch yourself off from The Duck Blind University!!

Rick McAtee

Rick's Show Accomplishments

2006 BOS 6 Bird Rig (Westlake) 2008 3rd BOS Gunning Pairs (World Show)
2007 BOS 3 Bird Rig (Lake Erie) 2010 BOS Gunning Pairs (World Show))
2008 BOS Single (Westlake) 2011 BOS Single (Lake Erie)

About three years ago a friend of mine carved a decoy using Willy’s instructional DVD on carving. I was amazed at how great the decoy looked for a first attempt. My friend told me I should try carving but since I had never been able to do anything in my life that was artistic I declined. After being asked on several different days to try carving I gave in and used the DVD to carve my first decoy, a redhead. I was so proud of it I took it to the Westlake Decoy Show in Ohio and entered it in the contest. Seeing that it was my first decoy it was not surprising that it didn’t win any ribbons but it sure was fun to compete. I went to a room where Willy was giving carving and painting demonstrations several times that weekend and learned so much from him.

The next year I carved another redhead and a ringneck. Those second and third attempts at carving using Willy’s DVD earned me a 2nd place ribbon and an honorable mention (4th place) ribbon at Westlake. I couldn’t believe it, because as I said earlier, I have no artistic talent whatsoever. This past year I carved three more decoys and I won a best of show in NY with a redhead and some other ribbons with my ringneck. I still can’t believe what I have accomplished after only carving a total of seven birds. I can honestly say if I had never had Willy’s instructional DVD’s and classroom demonstrations I would have never stuck with carving. I am a visual person and Willy’s step-by-step instructions walk you through the process easily. I tell every new carver I can that the best thing they can invest in is Willy’s DVD because it speeds up the learning curve enormously. Thanks Willy for all your help…I greatly appreciate it!!!

Andy Hildreth
Penfield, NY

I decided to take a DuckBlind carving class because I wanted a classroom type instruction for my first attempt at decoy carving. I was not disappointed. Willy's step by step process was clear and logical for carvers of all skill levels. There was adequate time for both group and individual instruction to get the concepts clearly understood and accomplished before moving on to the next step. Add to this Di's wonderful lunches, and the class is just a lot fun no matter what. Actually, I enjoyed it so much, I took the class three years in a row. I would recommend Willy's classes for anyone wanting to start carving decoys, or simply to further develop their carving and painting skills.

Brian Floerchinger
West Michigan

For all you carvers out there who like to attend a very informative and excellent teacher, you need to attend one of Willy's classes as there is so much great information and you will learn the techniques to carve and paint a great decoy. I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of classes and would recommend to anyone to take a class and you will be very happy that you did as Willy is world class instructor.

David Gier
Jackson Mi.

P.S. David's Drake Ringneck took first place at the 2011 Chesapeake Challenge contest.

Mr. Willy McDonald of the Duck Blind is without a doubt, one of the best things to happen to a decoy carver since the invention of the band saw. Through his years of experience, infinite patience, and Master Carver guidance I have been able to attain what until now, I only dreamed of, a beautiful, functional, and practical duck decoy. More importantly, I have gained the confidence and knowledge to make more!

Willy’s carving class, with his straight forward and easy to understand style of instruction, lends itself to a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it takes to transform nature’s raw materials and turn them into a representation of nature’s living essence.

You will see Willy’s smiling face, hear his words of encouragement, and know that your hands, first guided by his, have allowed you to join an ancient and honored clan. You will be “A Decoy Carver”.

Brian C. Ballard
Hopkins, Mi.

In February of 2002, I took my first carving class with Willy McDonald at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. I was very intimidated at first, but Willy took the entire mystique out of carving. He has an easy systematic approach to carving that will allow anyone to pick up a knife and carve a decoy. My eyes were opened to a whole new world of creativity. He taught me a set of skills that has allowed me, to this very day; enjoy one of the true American folk arts. I now carve, collect, and hunt over hand made decoys.

Willy has always been very generous with his time and expertise. From 2006 to 2011, He and Di have traveled to my home three times in Paducah, KY, and held classes for friends and family. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds in the waterfowling community reach the goal of gunning over their creations!

 Many Thanks,

Dr. Steven J. McCullough
Paducah, KY

When people ask me where I learned to carve decoys, I always say "Willy McDonald at the Duck Blind". I live in New Jersey, which has a great history of decoy carvers, but I really didn't know any carvers at the time and so everything I learned was from Willy's cyber classroom, questions he answered (he even sent me a demo head for free) and my first 3 birds were his cork Canvasback cutouts.

From there I learned the basics and then became friends with a fellow carver in NJ who showed me how to work with cedar and I learned a few more methods. A lot of people are curious about the style that I carve, because it is neither Barnegat bay or Delaware River style or even the Tuckerton school of carving, all of which are what the majority of New Jersey carvers make. I consider my style the Willy McDonald style, because that is where I learned the basics. It is more contemporary than what is often seen in my area. I would like to learn to carve some of the Jersey style birds, like what Sean Sutton and Jode Hillman carve, but its so hard for me to wander away from the style that I do and I really like my decoys. They look like ducks on the water and I've had great success hunting over my own decoys. I recently started selling them for the sole purpose of getting money to buy more materials to keep carving! (It gets expensive, that's the only reason I sell my decoys)

Here is the first decoy I carved. This was the beginners carving kit from the duck blind. It came with all the knives I needed, the cork and basswood cutouts, surform rasp, glass eyes and even sand paper.

David Welsh
New Jersey


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