Rare book celebrates dog, duck and decoy

For decades the historic country craft of trapping wildfowl using duck decoys made East Anglian landowners rich. Now a book dating from 1886 exploring the dying days of the pastime will go on sale in Suffolk.

For decades the historic country craft of trapping wildfowl using duck decoys made East Anglian landowners rich.

Now a book dating from 1886 exploring the dying days of the pastime will go on sale in Suffolk.

The Book of Duck Decoys takes the reader on a journey across the country, including Norfolk and Suffolk, where duck decoys could trap up to 1,000 ducks in a season, netting a handsome income in big cities such as London.

The ancient method involved getting a dog to run alongside a pond to attract the ducks, which would swim next to the dog under a series of hoops and into a net where they would become trapped.

At the time the book was written the practice was already being replaced by hunting with guns.

The book is part of a collection of historic publications about wildfowl that will go on sale at Holywell Row, near Mildenhall, on Sunday.

Most Read

Auctioneer Fabian Eagle said: “It was earning some landowners £700 a year at the time, so it was a very worthwhile pursuit.”

He said the book had been donated by a person from West Norfolk who wanted it to sell to somebody in the region with an interest in the subject.

At the time the book was published local duck decoys could still be found in Didlington, Snettisham, South Acre and Westwick and going even further back in places such as Holkham, Wormegay, Hockwold and Methwold.

Also being sold on Sunday is a 1912 book about varieties of Indian ducks and a 1904 Russian book about Wild Geese of Europe and Asia, both featuring extensive colour plates of the birds.

The books will go on auction at Eldon Farm in Holywell Row at 11am on Sunday. The guide price for the duck decoy book is £150 - £200.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter