The Thousand Islands Decoy Collectors Association (TIDCA) was organized in summer 1992, largely through the efforts of Larry Lunman and Bob Rayfield, to bring together individuals who share a common interest in the history of decoy carving and waterfowl hunting along the St. Lawrence River. In addition to the Clayton Decoy Show held each year in July, TIDCA members have met once or twice a year to attend decoy presentations, share information, and participate in displays and contests. Vintage decoy displays and contests have been a feature of most meetings, with the intent of encouraging members to bring choice examples from their personal collections to be studied and enjoyed by all.

In spring 2009, TIDCA was reorganized under the mantle of the TI museum, and individuals who wish to become or remain members of TIDCA can do so by joining the museum. The goals of the association have remained the same, and are focused on discovering and sharing information on the decoys and decoy carvers of the Thousand Islands area. In recent years, two events have been held annually, both open to the public. The first event is a meeting held the first Saturday of March, the second includes displays presented at the Clayton Decoy Show held the third weekend in July. Displays of decoys by TIDCA have been presented at the Clayton Show each year since 1994. In 2013, TIDCA’s involvement in the Clayton Decoy Show was expanded to include a vintage decoy contest.

Archives of information presented at previous spring meetings, and pictures and information from previous July Clayton Shows, can be accessed using the colored links on this page or from the drop-down menu located at the word ‘DECOYS’ in the darker blue banner near the top of the museum’s home page.  The Previous Spring Meetings page provides an outline of the topics covered in all the spring TIDCA meetings since 2001. By clicking on the colored links associated with each of the yearly spring meetings, PDF versions of the presentations and handouts can be accessed. The Previous Clayton Shows page shows the themes of the TIDCA displays since 2001, and the categories in the TIDCA contests since 2013. Pictures of the displays and contest winners shown on the page can be enlarged by clicking on them. Pictures and information used as part of the TIDCA displays since 2010 can be accessed by clicking on the colored links associated with the respective yearly headers.


2023 TIDCA Events:

The 2023 spring meeting, and the TIDCA display and contest at the 2023 Clayton Decoy Show, were all held as scheduled. Materials presented at the spring meeting and Clayton Show, and photos from the Clayton Show, have been added to their respective archive pages, and can be accessed using the links on this page.

The 2023 spring meeting was held on March 4. Similar to previous years, the meeting started at noon with decoy displays and an informal gathering, followed by a slide presentation beginning about 2 PM. Attendance was unfortunately down to about a dozen people, due largely to an area-wide storm that dropped 8-10 inches of wet heavy snow. We had reports from a number of people that had planned on attending but canceled that morning due to the weather. The 2023 presentation included new information on Donald C. Davis and Kenneth I. Harris, presented information on five different decoy gunning rigs with identifying marks applied by their owners, and described a group of distinctive decoys carved by another unidentified area carver. The presentation ended with a brief review of upcoming decoy and carving shows.

In contrast to the spring meeting, the weather was beautiful for both days of the 55th Annual Decoy & Sporting Collectibles Show held July 14-15, 2023, at the Cerow Recreation Park in Clayton. Attendance was good, up noticeably from 2022. The TIDCA decoy exhibit featured broadbills/bluebills from the Thousand Islands area with choice examples by some of the best-known area carvers from both New York and Canada. The vintage decoy contest held on Friday, July 14, included three categories; vintage Ontario decoy, Chauncey Wheeler hunting decoy, and vintage factory decoy. The contest categories selected were quite broad, and were intentionally chosen that way to encourage participation.


2024 TIDCA schedule: 

Spring Meeting: March 2, 2024, at the Thousand Island Museum, 312 James St., Clayton:

The 2024 spring meeting was held as scheduled on March 2.  Similar to previous years, the meeting started at noon with decoy displays and an informal gathering, which included snacks, followed by a slide presentation beginning about 2 PM.  The 2024 presentation was given by Mark Malys and Roger Petrie and provided an informative review of the life and decoys of Chet Schutte, Rochester, NY, plus his hunting and carving associates.

The 2024 presentation included new information on Chester (Chet) Schutte, divided his decoy carving into early (1914-1920), middle (1921-1932), and late (1933-1945) periods, and discussed his casting of hollow aluminum metal decoys (1929-1931).  Photos of the cork and wood body decoys made during each of the carving periods , and the aluminum cast decoys, were included.  The slide show went on to review Chet’s hunting and carving friends including his son Bob Schutte, Bill Ahrens, Russell Farmen, and Harry Miller.  Photos of decoys carved by Bill Ahrens and Russ Farmen were also included.  A slightly modified version of the 2024 presentation is now available, and can be accessed using the Previous Spring Meetings page.  In addition, there is a link to photos taken during the 2024 meeting.

Decoy displays are a traditional part of the TIDCA meetings, and Mark and Roger brought a large group of Schutte and Ahrens decoys.  The intent of these displays is to provide people an opportunity to examine decoys by various makers, and to better understand the variations in style and construction that exist.  There is always something new to learn about decoys, and personally examining them and discussing them with fellow collectors is one of the best methods of increasing your knowledge.  The decoys brought by Mark and Roger presented a wonderful learning opportunity.

Plans for next year’s spring meeting are still very incomplete, other than to schedule the event for March 1, 2025.  If someone has information on an area carver that they would like to have included, please contact Tom Eckert (315-654-2902) or the Thousand Islands Museum.  Photographs of the various individuals and their carvings are especially welcome.  This could include new information on individuals and families that have already been covered in previous years, or entirely new individuals.


Clayton Decoy Show:  July 19-20, 2024, Gordon Cerow Recreation Park Arena, Clayton

The 56th Annual Clayton Decoy Show has been scheduled for July 19&20, 2024. TIDCA involvement in the 2024 show will include a decoy exhibit to be displayed all day Friday and Saturday, and a decoy contest to be held on Friday. Help with setting up the displays, registering the contest decoys, and supervising the exhibits and explaining them to the public, is always appreciated. If you can help, please contact Tom Eckert (315-408-8835) or the Thousand Islands Museum.

The 2024 TIDCA decoy exhibit will feature vintage hooded merganser decoys from eastern Ontario, Canada. The exhibit will focus on some of the better examples of hooded merganser decoys by the various area carvers. Museum members and show participants with one or more choice decoys they would like to be considered for display are asked to contact Tom Eckert (315-408-8835).

The 2024 TIDCA decoy contest will be held on Friday, July 19. The contest is open to everyone, and each person may make two entries in each of the three specified categories. A matched pair (hen and drake) count as one entry unless the category description specifically states otherwise. The entries may be brought in person to the TIDCA tables and registered from 9-11 AM, or may be mailed to the TI Museum according to the same procedures established for the Hunting Decoy Contests.

Entries in the contest will be judged by a panel of three experts beginning at 11 AM. Ribbons will be awarded to the entries judged to be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in each category, and the winning entries must remain on display until 5 PM Friday. The contest categories selected for 2024 are quite broad, and were intentionally chosen that way to encourage more participation.

The three 2024 decoy contest categories are:
1. Vintage decoy recently acquired: any area, species or maker, made before 1970, and acquired in either 2023 or 2024 (i.e., a new decoy in your collection).
2. Vintage mallard decoy: any area or maker, made before 1970.
3. Four vintage goldeneye decoys by four different makers (just one decoy per maker): any area or maker, made before 1970; all drakes, all hens, or a mix of the two

Previous Spring Meetings

Previous Clayton Shows