Mark Strucko

Mark was born and raised in Mount Holly, New Jersey. The second of three children, Mark had a love of nature and the outdoors at a very early age. He was able to study waterfowl near his home on the Atlantic Flyway during the annual winter migrations, but he did not know his childhood curiosity would spark a lifelong interest and lead him to his eventual career.

An avid athlete, Mark attended Mississippi State University on a track and field scholarship. He became a three time Southeastern Conference 5,000 meter championship and member of the all-SEC team three years in a row. Following his graduation in 1984, Mark became an agent with Merchant’s Association in Greensboro, North Carolina. However, he soon realized his dream and resigned, in 1987 to become a full-time professional carver.

Mark has carved over 100 decorative decoys and although he has mastered many species, he specializes in marsh hen ducks such as the Shoveler, Pintail and Green-Winged Teal. He uses exclusively tupelo wood for his carvings; small species and low-head poses are usually carved in one piece and larger or high-head poses are completed in two pieces. Mark primarily uses oil-based paints, he feels the deep colors and better blending ability, which oils provide, allow him to create feather patterns with a more realistic appearance.

Not long after he began carving professionally, he began competing. Competition with world-class carvers, he thought, would not only provide a challenge, but would help him improve his own work. Mark has won numerous awards for his carvings including five Best of Show awards. He is a consistent ribbon winner at the Ward World Championships, most recently winning First Place in Species in 1997, 1998 and again in 1999, firmly establishing himself as one of the world’s truly elite carvers.

Entirely a self-taught artist, Mark has had neither formal art education or carving lessons. Ironically, he is a dedicated and patient instructor and has taught decoy carving classes and seminars for the past seven years.