Several years ago I was sitting in a hotel room at a National Fishing Lure Collectors Club meet when I mentioned to my roommate Dave Budd that He might want to look through an August 1904 issue of National Sportsman magazine that I had picked up. Dave is a long time collector of tackle made in Indiana. His sharp eye soon picked up an ad that I had overlooked as it did not seem to be related to fishing tackle. It was for a duck decoy made in Auburn, Indiana. It was only after it was pointed out to me that I understood its significance as related to fishing tackle.
The inventor was H. S. Dills who was only 29 years old when he filed for a patent on this decoy in 1902. 14 years later he would become one of three men who founded the Creek Chub Bait Company, which would become one of the largest manufacturers of artificials lures in the world. It is also one of the most sought after companies when it comes to today’s collector of old lures.
Sometime later while Dave was appraising lures in Garrett, Indiana a gentleman walked in with an example of this decoy. It took a couple of years but Dave was ultimately able to purchase the decoy. It represents a Mallard. Since that time three more Dills decoys that were meant to represent Bluebill ducks were found in a barn near Garrett.
Reading the patent papers for this decoy is interesting in that they stress the light weight and compact nature of the decoys as well as ease of set up. The folding, hinged lead weight on the decoy is meant to steady it in the water as well as keep it upright. Staples along the front and sides of the base are there as tie points for the anchor cords. Shown here are two view of an actual Dills Decoy as well as the original 1902 patent drawings.
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