Carved Duck Decoy by Legendary Carver Bill Pinches
- Vintage item
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Bill Pinches (1944-2017) of Arcata, California, was a sculler and a hunter but most of all, he was a legendary carver who began full-time decoy carving in 1972. Three years later, when he was just 31, he carved this solid redwood exhibition decoy with its glass eyes. The clean lines of this duck, undefined by paint, distill the essence of the wild ducks on Humboldt Bay. The duck's in great condition, with a length from bill to tail of 15 inches, about 2/3 size of, say, a mallard (no telling if this is a drake or a hen). It measures 6 inches across the widest point, 6 1/2 inches tall to the top of its head and weighs 2 1/4 pounds. To mark his duck, Bill glued his business card to the bottom and if you look hard, you can see his penciled date at the very top of the card in our close-up photo: 11-1-75. There are some other penciled notes, too, which we couldn't make out.
In his long carving career, Bill Pinches won many awards, ribbons and accolades for his work. He won first place in the Brant Decoy Category two years in a row at the Ward Foundation World Decoy Championships in Ocean City, Maryland. His decoys have been sold in galleries, shown in a museum show on Humboldt County carvers and are avidly collected. He was inducted into the California Waterfowler's Hall of Fame and received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. He helped found the North Coast Waterfowlers Association, served on the boards of the California Waterfowl Association and the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association, among a myriad of other decoy-related activities he was involved in. He also shared his knowledge, mentoring other carvers, including Robert Capriola, who became a prominent carver himself. To quote his obituary "Billy always said he was just a duck maker but he was truly an artist."