Duck Decoys

Art Herpel

Prairie du Chien

Art Herpel made his first decoys as a teeneager living in Prairie du Chien. They were solid birds that, while quite heavy, still worked well. He came into contact with the hollow, nicely painted decoys used in the area....decoys primarily made by Mike Schurada. He copied them remarkably well and then had them painted by Florence Bittner, who also painted Schurada's birds. His first decoys were of white pine and later he started using heavier basswood. His decoy making gradually became a business, although only part-time as he still ran a grocery store with his father. He started calling his business the "Winnesciek Decoy Manufacturing Co." named after a famous duck hunting slough just to the north of P.D.C. He started marketing his decoys through VL&A in Chicago. He received $48 a dozen from VL&A while getting $60 a dozen from local sales. He made Mallards, Blackducks and at least one prototype Canvasback. He made over 1,000 decoys in his career. (Thanks to John Fandrey for this biography)