Rick Whittier now from Lidgerwood North Dakota was born in 1961 and raised in Minnesota. He spent 20 years of his early adult life in North Western Wisconsin and lived in a home he designed and built himself on one of the best fishing lakes in the area.
Rick and his wife's (Connie) son are avid fisherman and they wanted their home on Rick's favorite fishing lake, so they sold their home to their son, retired and moved to North Dakota in 2004.
Rick's passion or what may be an obsession for woodworking, Rick, has built and designed many many items from wood. He started at the young age of 12 when he received his first scroll saw. Besides designing and building his home he's also made a wood boat (which he used for several years), furniture, clocks, birdhouses, dollhouses, 6-foot tall wood ship replicas and all kinds of home decor items. He doesn't like patterns or pattern books. When he spots something he likes and wants to make, he either makes a quick hand sketch of the item, or takes a couple photos and a few measurements. He then goes to his shop, makes a prototype or pattern out of plywood, sets that in front of him and then makes the item.
Rick started carving fish decoys in 2004 when a friend stopped over with an older decoy wanting some made that he could actually use since North Dakota legalized spearing again. The friend was trying to help occupy Rick's time with some small woodworking, since Rick had just had several massive heart attacks and open heart surgery. He had some white pine lumber on hand and made several that the friend says work wonderfully! After making a couple dozen for his friend, he started making them and selling at local auction houses. One of his regular buyers, a flea marketer told him about the carving shows, especially the one in Perham, MN, which is very close to our area and suggested he try selling them online and entering competitions. While researching the worker decoys on ebay, he saw all the beautiful carvings of the known artists, said "I can do that". So his wif3e bought him some books on fish identification and a friend in South Dakota sent him a Game and Fish booklet with color pictures of common fresh water fish in the area. Probably on of the most unique things about his carvings are the way he paints them. He uses Krylon spray paints, not air brush as many think. He even blends the colors in mid-air and mists them for the milky, wet look. He then touches up, like spots and stripes with a brush, but again, using paint from the spray cans. He then gives them 3 coats of spray varnish or clear coat.
Rick has never entered any competitions, his wife told me that "he's not confident enough to feel his fish are worthy of competitions and he's not sure if his fish qualify with his unique painting with spray paints." His wife, Connie does occasionally make and paint workers. Connie went on to say that "when Rick slips, and gouges a fish so it's not proper, he finishes carving it and gives it to Connie to paint as a folk art fish." He very much prefers to carve actual freshwater fish and keep them realistic. Ocassionally he does mythical critters like Loch Ness monster, Ogopogo monster and the likes. He made his own scale burner and burns the scales one at a time on the scaled fish.
You can reach the Whittier family at
or via snail mail
PO Box 308
Lidgerwood, ND 58053
Phone # 701-538-4064
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This page was last updated on
January 29, 2013
Story & Photos provided by Connie Whittier
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