Harford Life/Decoy sketchbook

September 20, 1992|By John Camejo

When visitors enter the workshop looking for decoy carver Dan Carson, they often mistakenly walk up to his assistant.

Robert Mech, a retiree who works in exchange for decoys, points to Dan, a young man wearing a beat-up red Beechnut Chew baseball cap, and insists that he's the real decoy carver.

"I'm only his assistant," Mr. Mech frequently tells visitors.

Dan can be found year-round carving duck decoys in his workshop, Carson's Decoys, at Steppingstone Museum at Susquehanna State Park in Havre de Grace.

One can sense Dan loves his work. He has a friendly hello for everyone that enters his shop. Ask him how he makes his birds and he probably will give you a tour of the workshop.

Many collectors are convinced Dan will achieve national renown as a carver and artist, and his decoys will go up in value. One collector recently ordered 35 decoys as an investment.

"The strange thing is that they consider me to be too young, which is a strike against me," says Dan. "If you have talent, your work speaks for itself, not your age."

A few years ago, Jim Pierce, a decoy carver and neighbor, took on the then 13-year-old Dan as an apprentice. Now the trade has become Dan's full-time job.

He sells his decoys to collectors, decorators and, of course, hunters.

"When I produce decoys, no matter who buys them, I stay true to the original purpose of a decoy. All my work can be used for hunting as well as a piece of art," he says.

So, plan a day trip to the Steppingstone Museum and say hello to Dan.

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