John Scheeler, born in 1925, was from Mays Landing, New Jersey. As a young boy he was not interested in carving as a profession but had made a few decoys. Scheeler started carving professionally and competing late in his life, not entering his first contest until he was forty-three. He became serious about carving after he visited the Ward Foundation’s annual Carving and Art Exhibition. He was interested in studying painting as a way to improve the realism of his early decoys as he started to consider making birds for competitions. He took a correspondence course from the Famous Artists School but dropped out after his daughters became ill. He entered his first contest in 1971, the U.S. Open held in Babylon, New York, and won best in show. The next year he won Best in Show at the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition, the Decorative Decoy Pairs competition.
Prior to 1973 Scheeler worked as an industrial painter and after winning the 1973 World Championship Lifesize class he changed his profession from painter to wildlife sculptor. He was supported in his profession by Douglass Miller who was an exclusive wildlife art collector from Colorado. This gave Scheeler time to perfect his artistic technique instead of pressuring him to produce mass quantities of artwork to be sold to support himself.
Scheeler was very specific about the amount of time he was allowed to work each week and treated his art work as a job. He worked eight hours a day, five days a week which he said allowed him to regulate his time and become more productive.
He was well known as an innovator with his carving and painting techniques different then most carvers. Sometimes he used clay to help him plan his work but he used mostly his imagination. He was also known as having a very distinctive painting technique when it came to his birds that made them very realistic. He was considered an expert in decorative decoy carving and for his aggressive birds of prey.
In his lifetime he won the World Championship Decorative Lifesize competition seven times and over 200 first place and Best in Show awards at other competitions. John Scheeler died in 1987.