CAMANCHE — A hand-carved decoy created by a local artist will be auctioned off today and the proceeds will benefit the Camanche Public Library.

Camanche resident David Evers has been carving wooden duck decoys since he was young. Although it began as a hobby, friends and family of Evers encouraged him to enter his work in contests and he finally participated in his first decoy carving competition in 2003. He took second place in the amateur competition, which led him to enter the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association competition in Sacramento, Calif., in 2004. Evers took home first place in the open class and has gone on to win many national and international competitions. Upcoming competitions for Evers include the Columbia Flyway Wildfowl Show in September and the 2007 Virginia Beach Wildfowl Carving Competition in October.

“I’ve been really busy trying to fill orders lately that I haven’t had much time to compete. But, I’m really looking forward to getting back to it,” said Evers. “The competitions are a blast. You see a lot of your friends there and you get to meet a lot of people.”

In addition to carving and selling his own decoys, Evers collects antique decoys and has an extensive collection with some pieces dating back to the 1860s. In fact, Evers is so knowledgeable about antique decoys, he offers free appraisals to curious decoy owners.

Evers sometimes donates his intricately carved and painted decoys to help area charities or benefits. The decoy up for auction on Saturday is the third in a series of decoys to honor past Camanche waterfowlers. The first was donated to Camanche Ducks Unlimited in memory of Russ and Vern Dreibelbeis. The second was donated to the Camanche Masonic Lodge in memory of Spider Brown.

The latest decoy is being auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Camanche Public Library. Evers said he chose to donate to the Camanche Public Library this year because he enjoys going to the library so much. He said he frequently goes to the library to research waterfowl.

“They’re just all unique in their own way. I’ve learned a lot from going to the library, but it’s like a never-ending thing when you’re learning about decoys, about anything,” he said. “That place is like a second home for me. I like reading, I like learning. Where else can you get a cup of coffee and a book and watch the eagles fish and the trumpeter swans swimming?”

“It’s just a neat place. I don’t think there’s too many places on the river that have as nice a library as we’ve got here,” he added. Evers noted he usually takes his decoys to the library for the ladies to see when they are finished.

“When I get one done, I take it over there so they can see it. They just love it,” he said.

Librarian Mary Hehlke said Evers is a true artist and noted his work is remarkably life-like. She said the decoy up for auction is one-of-a-kind.

“It is beautiful. It looks like it has real feathers. It’s incredible. He does a wonderful job,” Hehlke said. She added that the library is excited and grateful that Evers chose to donate his talents to raise money for the library’s children’s department.

“He is a friend to everyone in Camanche. He wanted to do this for the library and we couldn’t be happier,” she said.

The hand-carved decoy up for auction is a Hen Mallard, carved using a pattern created from an original mallard decoy handcarved and hunted with by Carl Bower during the 1930’s.

Bower, who passed away in 1991, was a avid and well-known waterfowler, riverman and decoy carver, known by some as “Old Man River.” Evers is friends with Bower’s grandson, Jim Bower, who carries on the tradition as a fisherman and waterfowler, as well as carving decoys and shorebirds. Evers said Jim Bower related some of his grandfather’s history, such as how Carl Bower had several live mallard decoys and two of his favorites were Whitie and Blackie.

“Blackie was a flyer and Carl had her for 12 years. He use to toss her out the cabin window on Bowers Island and she’d fly into a flock of mallards and coax them down to the live decoys,” Evers noted.

Carl Bower created a memento of his life and wrote a book titled “True Life Story of 63 Years 1906 - 1969 on the Mississippi River.” Bower is included in the book, “History of Clinton County Iowa 1976.”

Evers said Carl Bowers had a wealth of information to share with his friends.

“Carl was a neat guy. Everyone knew and liked him. He knew so much about the river and fishing and waterfowl and everything,” Evers said. “I’ve tried to portray his design by using his decoy and then use my knowledge for the paint job and improvise where I thought necessary.”

The decoy is made of sugar pine in the body and basswood was used for the head. It was painted with acrylics and sealed with flat lacquer. The decoy is number 121 of the decoys Evers has carved. All of Evers’ decoys come with a signed certificate of authenticity featuring information about the piece, including its number in the series and the history behind the decoy.

Ever said it is a privilege to be a part of the long tradition of Camanche waterfowlers and an honor to pay homage to his predecessors.

“For me, one of the most important things is to commemorate these Camanche waterfowlers, because everywhere has it’s own style but Camanche is really a best-kept secret. They’re completely different from all the others,” remarked Evers.

Evers said he will continue donating his work to help needy projects in Camanche.

“I’m just going to keep going on. As long as I can keep carving, I’ll keep donating,” he said.

He added he plans to donate a decoy for auction to benefit the Camanche Historical Society next year.

The Evers’ decoy auction will be held today at the Camanche Historical Museum, 1307 S. Washington Blvd., at 4 p.m., after the Friends of the Library book sale. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the children’s department at the Camanche Public Library.

This Week's Circulars