Some of these seldom seen treasures, on loan from private and museum collections, date back hundreds of years, and include decoys, guns, gunning boats, and countless related items. Many are priceless rarities offered up by collectors.
Dr. Harry M. Walsh (1924-2009) was one of the people whose vision gave wings to the Waterfowl Festival and who served as its first president and chairman from 1971-1974. His book, “The Outlaw Gunner,” remains in print today and tells the tale of market gunners, hunting guides and outlaws who were engaged in an occupation unique to the Shore. It has been considered one of the most authoritative and comprehensive studies of its time on the art of waterfowling.
Dr. Walsh amassed a collection of decoys, waterfowling firearms, gunning accoutrements, and historic photographs of waterfowling over many years. In addition to displaying parts of his collection annually at the Waterfowl Festival, he gave or loaned these artifacts to various institutions in the region. Walsh’s collections can be seen in museums around the region, from he Chesapeake Maritime Museum to the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, and the Eastern Neck Island Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.