Volunteer Makes Tuckerton Seaport Come Alive
On a recent Saturday, woodcarver George Ross was ready to tell visitors to the Tuckerton Seaport about what makes a “working” Barnegat Bay decoy so special.
“It’s made of Atlantic white cedar, a durable wood, and it’s carved in two pieces so that it’s hollow. In traditional Barnegat Bay decoys the feathers are painted and not carved so that when you throw the decoys into the boat, the feathers don’t chip off.”
A “working’”decoy means hunters use it to attract ducks close enough to get a shot at them. A decorative decoy is one that is nice to look at and appreciate.
Ross’ decoys fall in between these categories as he carves feathers into the wood and then paints them.
“In the past they used brass nails and boat caulking to connect the two halves. I use Gorilla Glue; nothing works better,” he said.
Ross started carving back in the 1980s when he answered an advertisement for a class on decoy carving at Pinelands Regional Adult School. He learned from one of the best, John Holloway, an established carver who learned from one of the area’s original decoy carvers, Jay Parker of Parkertown. Holloway has gone on to become a decoy judge for the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show, held annually in Tuckerton.
And Ross has been a volunteer at the Seaport ever since it opened, sharing his love of the bay. He displayed his award-winning decoys – his favorite is the wood duck. “It’s a beautiful bird, so many colors.
“I was never a hunter,” he added. “I’d rather carve than shoot.” —P.J.