Ian McNair, Duck Decoy Carver

January 12, 2021

I met Ian McNair more than a decade ago. Our wives rowed crew together at the College of Charleston. I was intrigued whenever Jess would provide an update on their adventures. Teaching English in Asia. Working on a farm in New Zealand. Driving Tour America buses across the US. I was most surprised to learn he had taken up professional duck decoy carving.

Ian and Becca settled down in 2011. Jess and I attended the wedding on Ian’s parent’s property in eastern of Virginia. We usually see the McNair’s when they travel down to Charleston for SEWE.

Ian grew up chasing crabs and shrimp in the Chesapeake Bay. He was gifted a spokeshave at the age of 3 and learned to carve from his father, Mark McNair, before he learned to hunt.

Chip off the old block

Ian picked up hunting like his father, and his grandfather before him when he was 15. Carving duck decoys was something he did to avoid buying them. He mostly carved black ducks then, because that’s what he liked to hunt.

Swimming Black Duck decoy carving
Ian McNair’s Swimming Black Duck

He began carving professionally in 2014, and has carved decoys from Alaska to St. Thomas. His ducks are still built to be working decoys, though Ian admits more do service on mantles than on the water.

Ian is a passionate outdoorsman and fastidious craftsman. At one point he became dissatisfied with duck hunting gear available on the market. He and lifelong friend Brian Terry set about creating an innovative and durable solution that would keep hunters and aquaculturists warm and dry in the field. That led to them co-founding High ‘N Dry Outdoors in 2015. Their products have been well received and demand is strong.

father and son holding ducks, standing in a shallow pond next to a boat
Ian and Mark McNair, après hunt.

Ian and his family won’t be traveling down for SEWE this year, so I’m glad I took the time to catch up with him. He seems constantly in motion, even when settled down.

Go check out my interview with Ian for the Hunting Fatherhood Podcast.

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