Ira Hudson


of Chincoteague, Virginia, was a full-time boat builder and wildfowl decoy carver who carved decoys of all species in many different styles. His early customers werethe market hunters who kept the wild-game markets in New York and Philadelphia well stocked with ducks, geese, rails, and other wildfowl delicacies. Hudson alsohandcrafted gunning skiffs, locally called bateau, as well as sailboats and yachts. His clientele were often local “sports” or wealthy sportsmen, who came toChincoteague Island for its incredible hunting and fishing. Ira and his wife, Eva, had twelve children. As adults, his sons Norman and Delbert were also recognizeddecoy carvers.By 1900, Hudson was an established carver and his output was prolific for the next forty years. His decoys ranged from the very plain to the more ornate. Asexamples of Hudson’s stylistic varieties, decoy historian Henry A.Fleckinger Jr. cited Ira Hudson black duck decoys in nine distinct models. Hudson used both feather and scratch painting, and his decoy bodies were both rounded and flat-bottomed. The weighting materials he used ranged from lead pad to bolts and hinges. His earlier carvings are primarily made of white pine taken from the spars of wrecked ships found on the island. Later, he used the cypress wood of telephone poles discarded by workmen as they extended telephone and power lines along the Delmarva Peninsula in Virginia. He also carved pine,cottonwood, and balsa. He commonly used iron or copper upholstery tacks for eyes. A unique characteristic of many Hudson decoys is his “banjo” tail. Whilethousands of his duck decoys are extant, fewer of the Hudson shorebirds survive. He usually carved shore-birds posed in alert positions, with long, thin necks andfragile bills, easily breakable and quick to be discarded. Ira Hudson took up decorative carving later in his career, but is best known as an accomplished commercialdecoy carver.
See also

Decoys, Wildfowl; Adele Earnest; Sculpture, Folk
Earnest, Adele.
The Art of the Decoy.
New York, 1965.Fleckenstein, Henry A. Jr.
Southern Decoys of Virginia and the Carolinas.
Exton, Pa., 1983.Mackey, William F. Jr.
American Bird Decoys.
New York, 1965