Jennings, Forrest H. – Mt Clemons, Michigan

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Forrest Jennings is from Shamong New Jersey. He was bon in 1939. Forrest became interested in decoys in the Mid 60s while visiting Charles Birdsall at the Pt. Pleasant New Jersey Wildfowler Company. He started carving ducks first and then later in the 80’s he started carving fish. Forrest is a member of the New Jersey Decoy Collectors club.

F. H. (BUD) JENNINGS BIO AS WRITTEN BY ALLEN E. LINKCHORST FOR THE DECOY MAGAZINE ISSUE JULY/AUGUST 1999 It’s not particular surprising that a farmer is proud to share the fruits of his labor. After all, sun-ripened tomatoes and farm-fresh vegetables are staples of summer life. But for Bud Jennings, a man who’s spent his life living off the land, it’s his contemporary waterfowl carvings that now provide nourishment for hungry collectors. Both pursuits bring him enjoyment as well. Born Forrest H. Jennings Jr. on October 18, 1939, Bud is one of seven children. Forrest and Irma Jennings raised their family on a 1000-acre farm in Indian Mills, New Jersey now named Shamong. The farm was located on land that was part of the old Le nape Indian Reservation, the first Native American reservation in the country. Jennings’ father grew fruits and vegetables and raised dairy cattle, providing income as well as food for the table. As a young lad working the field, roaming the surrounding countryside, Bud collected numerous arrowheads and artifacts, adding further wonderment to his relationship with nature. Jennings’ father was an occasional waterfowler and enjoyed hunting deer and small game. The boys would haul several burlap bags full of wooden decoys to ponds and lakes abutting local farms to shoot puddle ducks. Bud’s only interest in these wooden tollers was their ability to lure ducks within gunning range. Diving ducks never frequented this area so Bud never shot one until the early 1980’s when he started gunning the Barnegat Bay and Mullica River. In 1957, seeking a new adventure, Jennings enlisted in the Navy, serving in a helicopter squadron on the aircraft carrier USS Wasp. .This was also the year he married Kathleen Krier. Together they raised three children-Barbara, Kevin and Tina six grandchildren. After his discharge from the service, Jennings returned to the family farm. He purchased property from his father and grew fresh vegetables for the market and provided tomatoes for Campbell’s Soup Company. During the non-farming season, he worked as a land surveyor. In 1970 Jennings founded the Oak Shade Nursery Garden Center, but directed his talents to the cultivation of trees and shrubs. In 1981 he sold the garden center, but continues to farm 30 to 40 acres and operates a wholesale nursery business. His home is still located the original family spread. One of the customers at the nursery, Terry McNulty, introduced Jennings to decoys and seeded his interest in carving. McNulty, a decoy carver and collector, occasionally visited the garden center and over a period of time a friendship developed. After a visit to McNulty’s home, and a perusal of his collection, Jennings’ initial curiosity in decoys soon blossomed. Jennings decided to work for McNulty at the Delaware River Decoy company, a carving business that was located in Riverside. After six months, he was exposed to the entire decoy operation. In 1979, now confident to branch out on his own, Jennings carved his first decoy. McNulty’s constructive criticism and words of encouragement helped the novice carver carry on. Jennings first decoys were a competition style, carved in the manner of the Ward brothers, with smooth backs, flat bottoms and keels. Gradually they evolved into a style more reminiscent of the Barnegat Bay school. Presently, although he makes his own patterns, his decoys are primarily made in the Delaware river style, with raised wing carving and fluted tails. His repertoire includes nearly every species of duck native to North American, as well as geese, swans and shorebirds. For a while one of his specialties were miniatures and he has recently added fish carvings to the list.. Jennings makes his decoys from Jersey white cedar. Full-bodied and hollow carved they are joined at the seams with waterproof glue. Finely carved heads are attached to a slightly raised neck shelf. The nostrils and nail are carved in the bill. His Delaware river style has thinner heads and raised primary feathers, following the tradition of the area. He also makes a style that is slightly larger and rounded, with a little thicker head, and only the wing tips are raised. He uses a rectangular pad weight for ballast on the bottom of each of the Delaware River style decoys and attaches the leather anchor loop with a brass screws and washer. His personal style has a keel attached to the bottom. All have glass eyes that accurately reflect the species. Although he first worked in acrylics, Jennings now works entirely in oil paints. His skilled use of combing and blending showcases his talents with a paintbrush. Both his decoys and fish carvings receive the praise of his contemporaries and reside in collections nationwide. It’s hard to spend so much time around decoys and not get the collecting fever. Jennings is no exception. He first started acquiring a group of buffleheads then expanded his collection to include examples of a potpourri of species. Although he enjoys Wildfowler decoys, they’re readily available in a variety of species, he actively collects contemporary carvings executed by his peers. He particularly admires the work of Bob White and Cigar Daisey and the shorebirds of David Rhodes. lately he has become interested in old iron ballast weights, crows and duck calls and other hunting artifacts. While no doubt appreciating the additional income that carving provides, it’s the camaraderie of the carvers and collectors and the social atmosphere of the decoy shows that he most enjoys. Jennings attends a handful of shows each year, including Easton, Tuckerton, Harve de Grace, and Harker’s Island. . And he looks forward to carving with friends Les Worrell and Mike Gould every Tuesday night In addition to the wholesale nursery business, Jennings actively pursues his love of nature by working on his property. His home is surrounded with birdhouses and bird feeders and he builds and places wood duck boxes on local ponds. And his deep appreciation of the land is further evident in the craftsmanship of his work. Bud Jennings is proud that so many people collect his waterfowl carvings and share in his bounty. As both a farmer and a contemporary waterfowl carver, he has indeed enjoyed the fruits of his labor.

He can be contacted at:
Forrest H. Jennings
426 Oak Shade Road
Shamong, NJ
email to:

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