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
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
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
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
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!
Dr. Steven J. McCullough
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.