Rare Early Black duck, Madison Mitchell, Havre de Grace, Maryland, signed and dated 1940.
. Slightly turned head and scratch feather paint detail.
CONDITION: Worn weathered original paint very good structurally.
When asked the distinguishing characteristics of his decoy by a reporter many decades ago, Mitchell responded, “Ninety percent of the gunners from Columbia, Pennsylvania to Richmond, Virginia can tell you whether the decoy they are holding is a Mitchell decoy…or not!”
Mitchell, the Chesapeake’s predominant decoy maker, made that comment with a chuckle and a twinkle in his eye, a comment that might seem vain if it wasn’t also true. It was still a time when Madison Mitchell dominated wooden decoy production in his part of the world, a craft that eventually headed toward its twilight years, as did Mitchell, as wooden decoy rigs gave way to plastic.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest of the 130 estuaries located in the United States, stretching 200 miles long and up to 35 miles wide, encompassing 11,684 miles of shoreline, including the tidal tributaries of Maryland and Virginia, a distance longer than the entire west coast of the United States. Many rivers feed it, but the majority of the Chesapeake’s water is derived from the saline Atlantic Ocean to the south and the Susquehanna River to the north, which pours in fresh water at the head of the bay.
A major resting and feeding habitat along the Atlantic Flyway for migratory ducks and geese, its open waters with wild sego and celery grasses are home to 29 species of waterfowl. The watermen who populated the bayside communities throughout the region harvested a great variety of seafood from its waters. The late fall arrival of ducks and geese represented another source for both sustenance and income. from
Jim Trimble is a contributing writer for Decoy Magazine,