Harry Van Nuckson Shourds (1861-1920) Tuckerton, NJ
Harry Van Nuckson "Nuck" Shourds loved to fish and hunt, so most of his free time was spent on the water. He worked as a house painter and part-time guide, but eventually turned to carving decoys full¬time. His small lightweight decoys were crafted from two pieces of hollowed Jersey cedar and employed simple elegant lines. Puffy cheeks and mandibles, nostrils and nails are featured on each of his stools. With the exception of a few feeding geese and some flying brant, Shourds' decoys face forward and display no variation in attitude. Most of his lures have inset lead weights, and all of them have been painted to withstand years of use. These decoys sold for $6 a dozen (Kangas, Survey 42).
Shourds did not make any great stylistic changes or pioneer carving techniques, but he did make sturdy, attractive decoys that hunters could rely on. Each year's production attests to marked improvements in his carving skills. Shourds concentrated on producing black duck, Canada goose and scaup decoys, though he was known to make all species of waterfowl. His swimming goose and hissing goose have gained him wide-spread recognition. Estimates state that Shourds produced tens of thousands of decoys, perhaps as many as two hundred thousand. Barrels of his decoys have been shipped allover the nation; as a result, Shourds has become the best known Barnegat Bay carver in the country. Hundreds of carvers emulated his style, and three generations of Shourds after Harry have shared methods, patterns and tools.