Outdoors Notebook

Makers of hunting decoys compete in East Carolina Wildlife festival

CorrespondentJanuary 31, 2013 

Spend hours and hours turning a block of wood into a work of art so refined that it looks like its feathers might ruffle in a breeze.

Then toss it into a river and hope it floats – right side up and realistic.

That’s the goal for some of the entries in the 18th annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and N.C. Decoy Carving Championships being held Feb. 8-10 in Washington.

“The Pamlico gunning pairs division – that’s a division that’s actually judged in the river,” said Jay Sullivan, the chairman of the carving competition for the nonprofit East Carolina Wildfowl Guild show.

Judges, volunteers and spectators will gather briefly for in-river competition, then they will make a three-minute walk back to the Peterson Building, where other decoys face judging in a water tank and the rest will be judged “on the shelf,” Sullivan said. The carving competition, with around 200 entrants, moves to the venue closer to the main festival in the Civic Center this year, Sullivan said.

Decoy carving is no lost art, and a new generation of artisans will compete against veteran carvers in 13 divisions.

“There has been a decline interest in carving, but fortunately we have a contingent of carvers in North Carolina and in particular in Virginia who are not only carvers themselves but educators,” Sullivan said. “They take students under their wing and educate them in the art of carving. We’re expecting a huge turnout of new carvers.”

Activities start Feb. 8 at Kugler Field with the return of the three-day “DockDogs” competition, as seen on the Outdoor Channel and ESPN. A shuttle will be available.

The festival will have more than 75 exhibitors with art, photography, pottery, jewelry and clothing. Hours will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 9 and 9:30-4 Feb. 10.

Tickets are $10 daily, or $15 for three days. Retriever demonstrations and the unveiling of the N.C. waterfowl stamp art are scheduled. The N.C. Estuarium will host a free children’s decoy painting contest.

An art and decoy auction takes place Saturday at the Washington Yacht and Country Club. A silent auction starts at 5:30 p.m., dinner at 6 and live auction at 7. For reservations, call 800-999-3857, ext. 2.

Learn more at www.ecwguild.com or www.facebook.eastcarolinawildlifeartsfestival.

Wild Foods Supper Feb. 9: N.C. State’s Leopold Wildlife Club, Student Fisheries Society, and Fish and Wildlife Alumni Society will team up to host their second annual Wild Foods Supper at 6 p.m. Feb. 9 at VFW Post 7383, 522 Reedy Creek Road in Cary. The event includes a buffet, cooking contest, game-calling contest, silent auction and raffles. A $15 donation is suggested (under 12 free).

Protected areas considered: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has scheduled a Marine Protected Area Expert Workgroup meeting Feb. 4-6 in North Charleston, S.C. Experts are seeking ways to reduce bycatch mortality of speckled hind and Warsaw grouper. Learn more at www.safmc.net.

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Boggess: boggess.teri@gmail.com

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