Coastal Artist: Roy Willis

Roy Willis

Roy WillisRoy learned decoy carving from his father in 1964. Willistown has been home for his family since the 1700s, when his ancestors first moved to the town. His father and father's partner, Elmer Salter, started carving in the early 1920s. Until his father died in 1981, Roy worked with him and then continued carving on his own.

Roy carves his ducks based on what hunters are trying to catch. "If you're gonna hunt deep water ducks or diving ducks, which is mainly red heads and black heads, you just sit down, make a rig of that type, and most people make the drakes, the males, because they're the most colorful," he said.

Roy Willis - DecoysBecause of the rise in wooden decoy prices, most hunters don't use wooden decoys anymore. Hunting decoys are now used primarily for decoration, an interest that began in the 1970s. Because the art of decoy carving has interested several area woodcarvers, decoy prices have escalated, and decoy collections sell for as much as $11 million. Roy sells his decoys for $40, making the traditional hunting decoy.

Roy doesn't use many power tools to carve his decoys, and he says he carves for the pure pleasure of it. "I just enjoy it," he said. "I don't do it for the money because you don't make a whole lot out of it. It's more of a hobby. It's rewarding in that some people like what you do, and it's rewarding in that sense."