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W.S.O.

In the early 1900’s Harvey received a large production order from Dr. William S. Overton of Binghamton, New York. Perhaps as many as six dozen drake bluebills and redhead decoys were made for his rig. Overton hunted at Henderson Harbor on Lake Ontario and he could afford the best decoys made. The decoys from Overton’s rig have some mysterious anomalies, the reasons for which we can only speculate about. It seems Overton, or his hunting guides, didn’t like the recessed staple hole, so he had them plugged with a wooden dowel and affixed with a leather strap for easier anchor tying. In addition, these decoys were found with two lead filled ballast holes rather than the usual single ballast. Even more oddly, most examples had a third hole drilled behind the two lead holes, but it was plugged with a wooden dowel. Perhaps they planned three lead ballasts in hopes of a better ride on the choppy waters of Lake Ontario. In any case, it is likely the drilling was done before a test run was performed. It is a good bet that after a trial it was concluded that three lead filled ballast holes prevented the decoy from riding the water correctly; hence, the odd hole configuration would make sense. Overton used a double barrel Parker shotgun and he didn’t think twice about taking birds on the water. Every WSO rig decoy has shot marks across its body or head. Some are severely battered with Overton’s lead pellets. Overton didn’t take much care of his rig, he didn’t care that they got shot up or busted up. Nearly every decoy from the rig has a replaced bill.

Overton used hunting guides so he didn’t worry that his rig was heavy, and he left it to the guides to keep the rig repaired. Fortunately, the repairs didn’t include repainting the bodies, however most of the heads are repainted and it is more obvious on the redheads. If the red color goes all the way down to the neck base, it is repainted. The original pattern of red stops about 1/3-inch short from the bottom of the neck where it turns to black matching the breast color. Apparently, the hunting guides didn’t fuss over such details.

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