D101 Early Canvasback drake decoy by Ira Hudson (1876-1949), Chincoteague Island, VA. tack eyes, old workinking paint .
Ira is undoubtedly Chincoteague, Virginia's most famous decoy maker. During the first half of the 20th century, he made thousands of working decoys, never using a pattern; therefore, no two are completely alike. He also repaired and repainted untold numbers of decoys for hunters and gun clubs.
Ira Hudson was born in 1873 in Maryland but he grew up in Delaware. He later moved to Chincoteague, Virginia and raised his large family of nine children with his wife Eva. Hudson built his own home and started carving decoys in 1897.
Using white pine, balsa, cedar or any other wood he could procure (from driftwood or old ships masts for example), Hudson carved both hollow and solid birds that have a life-like appearance. He made all species of geese, shorebirds and ducks that sold for varied prices according to the grade of the decoy. Hudson was an innovative carver and portrayed his birds in a variety of positions. His flying ducks, hissing geese and crooked neck brant stand out among his works. He did not adhere to any particular style, carving some decoys with extensive head detailing and others without. The tails flow or jut from the bodies, and some have been fluted. Iron upholstery tacks serve as eyes, and neck shelves appear on every decoy, but in various positions. It seems Hudson did not weight his decoys unless a customer requested him to do so. Some of his paint patterns exhibit elaborate details and scratch painting techniques, though others remain quite simple.