Delta News

Michigan Teen Wins Youth Decoy Carving Contest

Michigan Teen Wins Youth Decoy Carving Contest

AT 14 YEARS OLD, David Pilarski already has an artistic knack for producing eye-catching duck decoys. His hand-carved drake canvasback was judged the winner in a youth decoy carving contest sponsored and funded by Worth Mathewson, field editor for Delta Waterfowl.

The decoy of Allison Hillman of Mullica Hill, N.J., took second, while Grayson Russell of Gadsder, Ala., was awarded third prize for his carving.

Pilarski won a 20-gauge double-barreled shotgun as the top prize.

“I already shot it a couple of times and it’s awesome,” said Pilarski, of Washington County, Mich. “It’s going to be perfect for the creek we hunt behind my house.”

When Pilarski was 9, he traveled to northern Michigan with his father to duck hunt with family friend Gary Hanson, an award-winning carver. Hanson quickly found Pilarski was keenly interested in the craft. At age 12, Pilarski began taking carving lessons once a week with Hanson. The tutelage has left a lasting impression and resulted in a handful of handsome decoys.

“To finish a decoy and see what you’ve accomplished is a proud moment,” Pilarski said.

The teen’s passion for the waterfowling lifestyle was spurred at an early age.

“My dad tries to instill the hunter gene in everyone we come across,” Pilarski explained. “He’s taken a lot of my friends hunting and convinced their friends to take hunter safety and then invite them hunting, too.”

For young carvers interested in entering a decoy, Mathewson will hold another contest in 2015. Look for details in the Winter Issue of Delta Waterfowl magazine and online at