John Bundy began carving duck decoys in 1980. Since then, his business has grown, and his family has learned the trade along with him.
John Bundy began carving duck decoys in 1980. Since then, his business has grown, and his family has learned the trade along with him.

LAPEL, Ind. — The quirky, hardworking family on the popular TV show, “Duck Dynasty,” has won the hearts of people across the country.

But fewer people are familiar with Bundy Ducks, a company tucked away in the small town of Lapel, where a local family has established their own duck dynasty of sorts.

John Bundy was destined to be where he is today, owner of a successful business making duck decoy carvings.

“My dad and my granddad were interested in wildlife,” he said “My dad was a finish carpenter, and he did a lot of furniture restoration. My mother was an art teacher. I’m influenced by those people.

“One thing just led to another, I guess. We come up with this unique design, and people liked that, so we just kept making them. I’m the first generation to do this.”

His wife, Valarie, and two children are enthusiastic partners of Bundy Ducks. They opened their doors for business in 1980 and have seen solid growth since then.

Through ups and downs, broken machinery and all the tests and trials of life, the company still stands.

“All of the ducks are made like they did it 100 years ago,” Bundy explained. “So many things are made now that have no soul. Things are mass produced, and there’s no collectability, no intrinsic value.”

Not Bundy Ducks, however.

Each piece starts as a section of a log. After carving, detail work and painting, the end product is a finished duck.

Just like in nature, no two ducks from Bundy Ducks are identical. Although the ducks resemble decoys, they actually a piece of American folk art rather than a functioning decoy.

Bundy makes the ducks to celebrate the tradition and craftsmanship that has been around for hundreds of years.

The wood used to make the ducks comes mainly from Indiana trees, with occasional lumber brought in from other states. Bundy and his family are involved in the entire duck-making process — from driving the truck to pick up logs to the final touches and detail work.

“It’s a dying art,” he said. “Even the machinery I run, few people know how to use it. A lot of people ask me how do I do it, and I show them the display out in the showroom.

“But, actually, I see the finished product when I see the piece of wood. My favorite part is the creation of stuff. It’s creating the thing. But, of course, you’ve got to sell them.”

Bundy joked that his favorite duck carving is a sold one.

The family has a gallery in Eureka Springs, Ark., as well as in Memphis, Tenn. Bundy also sells pieces from his own shop in Hamilton County in central Indiana.

Ducks from Bundy’s shop have traveled across the world and are a collectible piece of art.

“The ducks turn up in different places,” Bundy noted. “There’s one that washed up in Marina del Rey. There’s been several of them in the White House. David Letterman has one of them, I got a nice letter from him. I got a letter from George Bush, and King Abdullah from Jordan is probably our best story.”

Bundy said that after receiving a Bundy Duck as a gift, King Abdullah sent a sterling silver box as a thank you present to the person who gave him the gift. He also sent a box to Bundy, as a thanks for creating it.

Bundy’s life revolves around much more than just ducks. He is passionate about nature and conservation, as well.

He has sold many ducks in efforts to raise money for wildlife organizations and causes. After many fish in Indiana’s White River died, he raised money to populate the waters with a million more fish.

The Bundy family also sells tables, knives and other pieces carved from wood. They even a have a “duck hospital,” a service in which they restore damaged decoys.

For more information on the company, visit www.bundyducks.com.