About Me

Brad fishing

I was born in the heart of the Lake country in Northern Minnesota, to a family with a strong water-fowling tradition. My Grandfather, Frank Hutze, moved from Illinois in the early 1900's in a horse drawn wagon, filled with household goods including a load of hand carved duck decoys. The decoys had been carved by some of the noted carvers from the Illinois River area, and included birds carved by Robert Elliston and my Grandfather's cousin, Hiram Hotze. I hunted over these decoys as a young man and it wasn't until a neighbor told us that those decoys might have some value that my Father retired them to places of honor on the mantle over the fireplace. While I didn't know it at the time, I believe those birds and the love of the sport of water fowling, instilled in me a desire to become a carver that would blossom at a later time.

That time arose out of necessity when, following college in 1969, I moved to Juneau, Alaska, to teach school and pursue my interests in hunting and fishing. I was too broke to buy decoys, but had the good fortune to find an old balsa wood life raft washed up on the beach. I cut it into blocks with a chain saw, and my carving career was launched. Even though those first birds were remarkably crude, they still out performed all the other decoy rigs in the surprisingly heavily hunted waters of the Mendenhall flats in proximity to Juneau. My belief in the value of hand carved decoys over contemporary machine made decoys was strongly reinforced.

I worked, hunted and fished in Alaska for 35 years and you will find this experience reflected in my work. I have an affinity to birds of that northern region and I have been blessed to hold in my hands many species which most people will never have the opportunity to see.

I specialize in the "Full Decorative Style" of carving, where feather details are burned into the wood before painting. Few carvers these days have the time or patience to sculpt a full decorative bird, which takes around 150-200 hours of work. The technique is labor intensive, and produces a bird which looks like it will fly away! An option to the full decorative bird, is called a "Smoothie", where the additional feather burning is not done before the painting. Check out all of my birds by clicking on "Carvings" and then click on the various categories.

©2007, Brad Snodgrass