Prairie du Chien
Art Herpel made his first decoys as a teen living in Prairie du Chien. They were solid birds that, while quite heavy, still work well. At this young age, he came into contact with the hollow, nicely painted decoys used in the area. Primarily made by Mike Shurada, he copied them very well and had them painted by Florence Bittner who also painted Shurada’s birds. His early decoys were of white pine and later he used heavier basswood. His decoy making eventually became a part-time business when he wasn’t helping his father run their grocery store.He started calling is business the “Winnesciek Decoy Manufacturing Company” named after a famous duck hunting slough just to the north of town. Herpel also marketed his decoys through the VL&A Sporting Goods firm in Chicago. He received $48/dozen decoys and received $60/dozen when he sold locally. He made Mallards, Blackducks and at least one prototype Canvasback. He made over 1000 decoys in his career.
**Many thanks to John Fandrey for contributing this information