About Me

brad fishingI was born in the heart of the Lake country in Northern Minnesota, to a family with a strong water-fowling tradition. My Grandfather, Frank Hutze, moved from Illinois in the early 1900's in a horse drawn wagon, filled with household goods including a load of hand carved duck decoys. The decoys had been carved by some of the noted carvers from the Illinois River area, and included birds carved by Robert Elliston and my Grandfather's cousin, Hiram Hotze. I hunted over these decoys as a young man and it wasn't until a neighbor told us that those decoys might have some value that my Father retired them to places of honor on the mantle over the fireplace. While I didn't know it at the time, I believe those birds and the love of the sport of water fowling, instilled in me a desire to become a carver that would blossom at a later time.

That time arose out of necessity when, following college in 1969, I moved to Juneau, Alaska, to teach school and pursue my interests in hunting and fishing. I was too broke to buy decoys, but had the good fortune to find an old balsa wood life raft washed up on the beach. I cut it into blocks with a chain saw, and my carving career was launched. Even though those first birds were remarkably crude, they still out performed all the other decoy rigs in the surprisingly heavily hunted waters of the Mendenhall flats in proximity to Juneau. My belief in the value of hand carved decoys over contemporary machine made decoys was strongly reinforced.

My interest in carving continued and became an intriguing hobby, while the majority of my time was consumed raising four boys, serving as a high school principal, and working as a fishing guide in the summer.

The turning point in the advancement of my carving ability came when I had the incredible good fortune of meeting Dennis Schroeder, well known world champion carver, at a competition in San Diego in 1991. I was hoping to find someone that could help bring my love of decoy carving to a higher level. I invited him to come to Alaska on a fly fishing trip in exchange for carving lessons, and all these years later, we are still friends.

Thirty five winters in Alaska finally brought me to my senses, and made me realize that I don't have to put up with Alaskan winters to enjoy the time I love up there. I now have a permanent residence in Southern Oregon.

I am now a full time carver, and create only a few high quality pieces each year. My focus is on waterfowl and shorebirds and most recently, birds of prey. For me, carving has been and remains an extension of the activities in nature that have provided me with some of the happiest and most memorable times of my life. I am hopeful that my love of these species and my love of nature will show through in my work.