Michigan Heritage Awards
^ MHA Awardees List ^
William "Willy" McDonald
McDonald and Brian C. Ballard
Photo by LuAnne Kozma
2007 awardee, Delton (Barry County), Waterfowl
Willy credits his grandfathers for his early experience in woodworking;
he assisted them in their carpentry businesses and in making hay wagons
for local farmers.
As a youth, he first tried his hand at carving after watching a street vendor
carve and sell trinkets. He carved toys until he decided to study music,
which led to a career as a professional musician and entertainer. In this
profession, he was occasionally invited to Ducks Unlimited banquets as an
emcee, which led to a love of duck hunting and decoys and rekindled his
interest in carving. Today he is devoted to making working waterfowl, what
he calls "carving for the hunt," and he maintains a large collection
of hunting decoys dating from the 1800s that documents the evolution of
Although primarily a self-taught decoy carver, Willy was greatly influenced
in his waterfowl carving by Ken Krum and Jim Wicks, earlier recipients of
the Michigan Heritage Award who were recognized for their superb duck decoy
carving and dedication to making working decoys. With plastic decoys becoming
more prevalent, Willy is doing his bit to keep the tradition of hand-carved
and hand-painted decoys alive. For some twenty years, Willy has conducted
classes on aspects of painting and carving decoys all around the country.
In 2003 he worked with an apprentice, Dwane Ong, to pass on his knowledge
of making traditional, durable hunting decoys. He frequently writes articles
on carving decoys for hunting for the national magazine Wildfowl Carving
and speaks on a regular basis to service clubs and historical societies.
Today, Willy and his wife, Diane, have The Duck Blind, an online store,
"offering carving and art supplies, videos on decoy carving, live waterfowl
references, and articles by Willy.
Willy McDonald, nationally known carving educator and waterfowl expert,
is recognized with a 2007 Michigan Heritage Award for his work to preserve
and perpetuate the tradition of hunting decoys and for his excellence in
waterfowl carving and painting.
Back to top of page
© 2009 Michigan State University, all rights reserved