Lure of the Kawonu Decoys

By on August 11, 2013

Kawanu Decoys

Bill Dealy is a wood artisan. The business that he and his wife Linda created: Kawonu Decoys, satisfies the senses for those who appreciate visual art, especially that which is rendered to replicate nature. Bill strives to create the finest of carved/handcrafted waterfowl and shorebird decoys his specialty. Aptly, Kawonu, is the Cherokee word for duck.

Bill came by his craft naturally, enjoying many outdoor activities as a youth with his father, grandfather, and uncle such as hiking, camping, crabbing, hunting and scuba diving. These experiences in nature instilled an appreciation of nature’s beauty that led him as an adult into the avocation of landscape and wildlife photography. His photography work brought accolades from Photographer’s Forum Magazine, with his work touted as some of the best in America.

However, it was his wife’s desire to obtain a duck decoy for their home mantel that led him to peruse antique shops. That search prompted him to seek out information about the history of North American decoy making. Subsequently, his research birthed the desire to try his hand at decoy making. In 1981 Kawonu Crafts, Ltd. was born and more than 500 of his works have been created to date.

Bill’s duck decoys result from hours of painstaking attention to details, a carry-over from his photographer’s eye, to capture the authenticity of nature. He makes both decoy (floating lures) and stick-ups (land lures). Each decoy’s head and body is turned from northern white or Virginia pine on a duplicating or reproduction lathe. The rough bird is then sculptured, using hand carving and texturing tools drawn, painted and finished to replicate a weathered 19th century lure. This process involves wood burning, painting, sanding, staining, and re-sanding. These works of art are hand-fashioned according to type, color, and place of origin. If you call Bill a perfectionist, that’s what he wants his work to reflect, a decoy that’s as true to life as possible. He says of his work, “My decoys are simply blocks of wood that have been turned and fashioned into functional art.”

dealy pond ducksEach decoy goes through a “pimitizing” process, which is antiquing the duck to look like a replica of the kind that were mass produced during the battery shooting days. Each bird requires anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of exquisitely detailed work. Over the years, Bill muses that his work has become “pure, rustic and, distinctive.” He notes, “My personal inspiration comes from the work of the old masters, particularly from the mid-Atlantic area, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. While I don’t try to copy or duplicate their work, I hope that my customers see that my work replicates the style, the art of those who were the real artists.”

His wife, Linda, researches the background of each particular bird, as well as the care of the decoy. This information is printed in a packet that is provided with every bird. Each numbered decoy is set on a stand and signed. Thus, a treasured piece of art is created. The Dealys, who live in Jasper, Georgia declare, “We love our ducks!” Yet through all their team laboring to create decoys and correct information about them, the Dealys want their ducks to honor the heritage of the original decoyers, the native Americans. They realize that by so doing, the decoys will be all the more valued.

Looking back into history reveals that decoys were originally made for personal use. Mass production came about during the mid-19th century and into the 20th century, when battery shooting was common. In fact, Bill’s decoys are shot with lowland pellets to provide an even further realistic feel to the ducks.

As a member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association, Southern Appalachian Artist Guild, Sharptop Arts Association, Gilmer Arts and Heritage Association, and Ducks Unlimited, Bill’s artistry is displayed at fine art and crafts shows and galleries through the southeastern United States, as well as locally at the Art Galleries on Main at Blue Ridgeand the Gilmer Arts Gallery in Ellijay, as well as on Bill’s website:

For the art lover who desires to find a piece of art that will last for generations, one that will undoubtedly be added to the buyer’s estate, Bill Dealy’s decoys add singular beauty to any size home or office. AC

Contact: KawonuCraftsLtd. at
706. 692. 7481 or by email,
Bill@decorativeduckdecoys.comThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


August 31 & September 1
The Cashiers Rotary’s Art Show in Cashiers, NC.

September 21 & 22
The Creative Art Guild’s Festival of Art in Dalton, GA. Three artistic pieces chosen for the juried indoors exhibit) and a display in the outside open exhibit.

October 5 & 6
The J.C. Campbell Folk Art School’s Fall Festival in Brasstown, NC.

October 12 & 13
The Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association’s Fall Art in the Park in Blue Ridge, GA.

November 2 & 3
The Chastain Park Fall Art Festival in Atlanta.

November 23 through January 10
The Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association’s Holiday Show.