08/07/09 — Part-time hobby turned passion

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Part-time hobby turned passion

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 7, 2009 1:46 PM

SWANSBORO -- Kent Hood's hobby turned into a pastime.

Then it became an obsession.

Two years ago, the Wayne County native picked up a duck decoy at a friend's house and decided that he could create a similar stand-in. Based on the number of awards, ribbons and medals that have adorned Hood's creations in nationwide competitions, the hobby has really taken off.

"I went and took a class at the Core Sound Carver's Guild," said Hood. "From that point on I really got into it and now I wouldn't even know how many I've made."

From a small shop in his backyard, Hood brings to life several species with a practical application in mind. An avid hunter, Hood has found that using his own decoys in a successful hunt is more rewarding than employing the plastic store-bought models.

"It's actually easier and cheaper to use the plastic decoys," he said. "But when you make a set of decoys, it is a little extra special."

During a recent competition in California, the decoys submitted by Hood stole the show. Hood claimed first-place honors in the Best Black Duck, Best Dabbler, Best Scaup and Best Diving categories.

Hood also claimed the Best of Show award for his Scaup carving.

"I entered my first competition in 2007 and since then my work has been featured at shows across the country," said Hood. "My decoys have been in shows in Maryland, Virginia and California this year."

Aside from collecting accolades, Hood has turned his personal hard work into a way to bring friends together. During the duck hunting season, Hood welcomes dozens of friends and relatives to his favorite spots to put his decoys to use.

"I have folks from all over the state come down to hunt and share stories," he said. "I cook a big breakfast on my boat and we hunt a little bit and tell some duck tales."

One story always seems to top the rest.

"One time when we were hunting, one of the guys found a skull washed up on the shore of the New River," said Hood. "We had everyone from NCIS to the CIA, and the local police down there.

"It turned out that it was an old skull that washed out of an old burial site, but it was still a pretty shocking experience."

Aside from his personal hunting trips and his time spent in the woodshop, Hood has also become an active member of the Core Sound Carver's Guild. He has stepped in as a featured carver at the guild's annual festival.

"The decoy festival has been going on for 22 years and every year it seems like it gets bigger and better," said Hood. "We have an internationally-sanctioned decoy competition and we get submissions from all over the world. It gives us local guys a chance to see what people outside of our area are creating."

This year's Core Sound Decoy Festival is scheduled for Dec. 5-6 at Harkers Island. Hood's designs will be on display but not for sale. As a novice carver, Hood rarely sells any of his decoys although he often gives them to charity auctions and ducks unlimited chapters as well as friends and family.

"I don't really try to make any money off of it," said Hood. "Most of my stuff is either traded or given away after I am done using it in competitions."