Andrew Thomas “Tom” Beary was born April 15, 1933 in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He was first recognized as a decoy carver of note in Charles W. Frank Jr.’s book, Louisiana Duck Decoys, published in 1975. This was the first book covering Louisiana decoys exclusively. Tom was introduced to the master decoy maker Reme Roussel (1903-1972) of Raceland, Louisiana in 1956 by another well known decoy maker, Sampson Foret (1901-1983). Tom’s boat was kept in a shed on Sampson Foret’s property. This hunting boat carried Tom and his decoys to many hunts on Lake Boeuf, his favorite hunting area.
The then twenty-three-year-old Tom bought a dozen canvasbacks and a dozen ring necks from Roussel. This exchange started a teacher-student relationship with Roussel showing young Tom all of his decoy making techniques. 54 years later, Tom still employs many of these techniques today – keeping patterns for all of his decoys, properly curing his tupelo wood, and using a band saw in conjunction with other smaller mechanical and hand tools to personalize the decoy. He carves tupelo gum as Roussel did but also makes an occasional cypress root decoy.
A Tom Beary decoy is not typical of Louisiana decoys in that he carves a neck shelf raised on the body to accept the head. By using this technique a very tight fit with no seam is assured. His decoys also have no lead ballast attached to their bottom because the wide design he conceived floats perfectly without a keel or counter weight. Tom runs a three-eighths inch hardwood dowel completely through the body up the neck of the head nearly to the top. He learned this strengthening design from early Louisiana decoy collector Charles Bosch (1924-1979). Once carved, Tom paints his decoy with Parkers decoy paint blended with artist oils.
Another unique characteristic of Tom’s decoys is that he carves them to be authentic hunting decoys or “gunners." Although a majority of them are sold to collectors, Tom designs each decoy to be functional for hunting purposes.
In addition to being published in Charles W. Frank Jr.'s Louisiana Duck Decoys in 1975, Tom's work has been published in Hunting & Fishing Collectibles Magazine, November-December, 2004 and Point of Vue Houma, November 2009.
Decoy Show Appearances:
- Waterfowl Festival, Easton, MD
- North American Antique Decoy & Sporting Collectibles Show, St. Charles, IL
- Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, Charleston, SC
- Kansas City Hunting & Fishing Collectables Show, Kansas City, MO
- Cajun Heritage Festival, Larose, LA
- Louisiana Decoy Rally, New Orleans & Destrahan, LA
- Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, Thomasville, GA
Louisiana Delta Decoys Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved.