Andrew “Tan” Brunet was born in 1938 in Galliano, Louisiana. As a child he lived next to the Vizier family and Jimmie Vizier, who was also a championship carver, taught him how to carve at the age of ten. For many years he worked with his father and his brother at their family business but in the early 1980’s they sold the business and Tan became a full-time decoy maker.
In the 1960’s he was invited to the Easton Waterfowl Festival and until this day he continues to attend the festival and the Ward Foundation’s World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition every year with his two sons, Jett and Jude. At these festivals he quickly learned that with his talents he could make a living as a decoy maker, establishing contacts with the buyers at the bird carving events and wildlife festivals.
Brunet was known for his innovations in woodburning, achieving both color and softness never known before. It was once said that he used an ice pick heated over his stove to burn feathers. It was a self admitted primitive way of going about the design. He also improved the way that the decoys were weighted by placing lead weights inside of the bird instead of on the outside, achieving a permanent perfect balance in the water. In 1977 he won the Ward Foundation World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition with a pair of pintails weighted in this specific way. He is also known for his bases upon which he displays his decoys. They are large bases and considered an important part of the carving- controlling the way the birds are placed and how he wants them viewed.
His carving technique is also very different than those of modern carvers. Brunet chooses to use the bare minimum of modern tools in the construction of his decoys. He calls himself a primarily a “hatchet man.” To design his carvings he first does a drawing of his subject and then draws the bird on a single piece of wood to minimize joint lines. His usual mediums happen to be Cypress Root or Tupelo Gum.
He was a close friend to Lem Ward before Ward’s death because of his frequent travels to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. His signatures on the bottoms of his decoys rival that of Wards with the poetry and messages. This is his attempt to use every available space to deliver his message about the bird he is presenting.