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Michigan Heritage Awards

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Photo of Ken K. Krum carving a duck decoy

A duck decoy made by Ken K. Krum
Photo courtesy of Ken Krum

Ken K. Krum
1995 awardee, Marshall (Calhoun County), decoy carver

Ken K. Krum (1914-2003) has been carving duck hunting decoys for nearly 50 years. His carving style is firmly connected to the traditional functional purpose of decoys; Ken's decoys are meant to be hunted over. They are considered good when they are effective, and his decoys have been effectively used many times to lure waterfowl from the sky to his dinner table.

Ken credits lifelong friend and hunting partner, Dr. Miles D. Pirnie, as the primary influence on the design and carving of his decoys. Miles, well known in the Michigan waterfowling community for his depth of knowledge about waterfowl and waterfowl hunting, helped hone Ken's skills of observing and replicating the details that distinguish one waterfowl species from another. Willy McDonald, another fellow carver and duck hunting partner, once asked his friend why no two decoys in his set looked alike. Ken answered that it was his observation "that feeding Mallards display various attitudes ranging from quiet to aggressive." Willy realized Ken's goal was to duplicate the flock. (1)

Ken has always been willing to share his skills with others but only recently was made aware of the influence he himself could have on future generations of carvers. To this end he has taught both his son and grandson to carve. "Grandpa Krum" has passed on to them and many others a rich heritage in the production of a unique art form and a deep appreciation for nature.

Recently Willy curated "Artful Deception," an exhibition that examined the work of several regional Michigan decoy carvers and their influence on each other. Ken's work was included for several reasons: it remains true to the original intention of this carving tradition--the creation of working decoys for use in hunting; it reflects his lifelong commitment to the craft; and it demonstrates his development as a tradition bearer over the course of his lifetime.

(1) McDonald, Willy. "How to Carve a Hunting Decoy" 15 May 2002.

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