Nicole Vidacovitch (1853-1945) Sunrise, LA
Nicole Vidacovitch became a market gunner and worked as a guide for the Delta Duck Club around the turn of the century. It was when he began guiding that Vidacovitch started to carve decoys. This career as guide and carver was short-lived however, as a hurricane hit in 1915 leaving the inhabitants of Sunrise without homes. With nothing left to lose, Vidacovitch moved his family to New Orleans and launched his most productive carving period at the age of sixty-two (Kangas, Survey 253).
Vidacovitch preferred curved cypress root for his canvasback, mallard, pintail, ringneck and teal decoys and pintail tip-ups. Early thick rounded bodies with stubby tails gave way to long slender lures with extended tails and flat bottoms. Uplifted chests, relief-carved wings from shoulder to tail, pronounced cheeks and recessed eye sockets are all characteristic of Vidacovitch decoys. Well-proportioned bodies and heads provide the realistic appearance other carvers try to portray through ornate painting or excessive feather carving.
The Litier Club on lower Bayou Lafourche, Chateau Canard and John Waterman of the Waterman Steamship Company all benefitted from Vidacovitch decoys (Haid 221). A dozen ran between eighteen and twenty-four dollars (Engers 196). Exactly how many birds Vidacovitch carved in his time is impossible to calculate due to losses incurred by storms, but production is estimated in the thousands. Vidacovitch's sons Paul and John and his grandsons Ernest and Henry carried on his carving tradition.