Pacific Coast

The first decoy maker on the Pacific coast was probably Peter St.Clair (1835 - 1910). He made his living marketing wild game including ducks and geese in the Sacramento, CA area during the 1860’s. Another market hunter, Robert Smith, shipped 300 - 500 ducks a day to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and said there was no need for decoys, “just too many ducks”. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the making of decoys entered the material culture of the hunters in that region. By the middle part of the 1900’s about 200 carvers and 20 decoy factories were in operation.

However, the use of palm fronds for decoys began on the west coast with the introduction of the date palm during the 1930’s. The availability of the material, particularly during the Great Depression, encouraged the development of this style of the art form. Bob Sutton, Roger Barton, Del Herbert and Tom Christie helped bring the carving of palm fronds into the national spotlight. Each have been major contributors of innovative pieces that have influenced and encouraged young artists to enter contests and shows and perfect their talents to become award winners themselves. They have been instrumental in the development of palm fronds as decoratives since the Pacific Southwest Waterfowl Association created a new category exclusively for palm frond birds in 1995.