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909 South Schumaker Drive
Salisbury, MD 21804

Museum Hours

Mon - Sat: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Walter H. "Tube" Dawson (1882-1955) Putnam, Illinois  

Walter Dawson began carving as a teen. During a career lasting nearly fifty years he is credited with having made thousands of decoys, duck calls and boats for fishing and duck hunting. Dawson's father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a carpenter and house builder, but "Tube", as he was affectionately known, loved to hunt. From the beginning of the twentieth century until it was outlawed in 1918, Dawson was a major market hunter. In later years, he was a "pusher" or guide for recreational hunters at Lake Senachwine near Putnam.

Dawson made numerous hollow-bodied mallard decoys in different styles from red cedar and white pine in either two or three sections. He carved basic mallards in two size as well as unique folksy birds that would be seen in tall grass. His sleeping birds were stylized with elongated heads and necks that arched over the decoy so that the bill touched one side of the back. Backward feather painting of the wing coverts, brilliant glossy colors applied with bold strokes together with scalloped chests and accented tail feathers are characteristics of Dawson's decoys. A tireless carver, Dawson's work was sturdy, conventional and durable.


For additional information

American Bird Decoys, 1965 by William J. Mackey, Jr.

Decoys and Decoy Carvers of Illinois, 1979 by Paul W. Parmalee and Forest D. Loomis Decoys of the Mississippi Flyway, 1981 by Alan G. Haid.

The Great Book of Wildfowl Decoys, 1990 by Joe Engers, Ed.