Prairie du Chien
Michael Shurada was born in 1886 in Prairie du Chien. He started his working life as a farmer and then decided to go to school in St Paul to study watch repair and engraving. He opened his first jewelry store in PDC in 1913. Shortly after, he started making skiffs and fishing boats, as well as 150-200 decoys annually. He also made his own decoy weights modeled after watch fobs, some engraved with the initial “S”. Later he applied for patents on his boats and decoys.He enjoyed oil painting and sketching although in his later years his decoys were painted by Florence Bittner of PDC. His early decoys were mostly low head, contented looking birds. He produced Mallards, Bluebill and Teal.In the early 1920’s he changed his decoy style after being influenced by the carving of “Pet” Marousek also of PDC. These were hollow, 2-piece decoys made from white pine. Some were high head or sleeper style. He made mostly Mallards and a few Blackducks. The PDC carvers Pete LaRoque, Carl Valley plus others also made decoys in the same style. They later influenced Art Herpel and the Prairie du Chien style of decoy was started.
**Many thanks to John Fandrey for contributing this information