Ducks have excellent eyesight. Birds can see objects in fine detail two-and-a-half to three times farther away than people can. That is why Captain Charley Heiges designed his Fowl Foolers line of
realistic-looking burlap-wrapped and carefully painted decoys. “Most ducks like the burlap . It gives a protective cover, kills sheen and adds texture, makes the paint dead flat.”
Fowl Foolers now has their manufacturing facility and retail showroom on Gill Road in Port Clinton. Heiges has been in the business since 1988. He has his Fowl Foolers lodge and guide service on OH 53 south of Port Clinton. The new Gill Road facility and new owner Scot Smith will allow Fowl Foolers to expand their business and build on the brand that Captain Charley has built.
Captain Charley Heiges and Scot Smith
Heiges will still be actively involved and retains part ownership, “to make for a smooth transition, working with patents, suppliers and setting up production, “ says Heiges. “I spent my whole life developing and creating the business.” He will spend more time teaching and giving seminars, in addition to managing Fowl Fooler Lodge.
Charley Heiges born and raised in Medina. “Dad had a cabin in Port Clinton and took me duck hunting and fishing, and later to play on the islands.”
Debbie Brown applying burlap to a decoy form
Why are Fowl Foolers in Port Clinton? It is a convergent point of the Atlantic and Mississippi flyway, and also the convergent point for key employees who commute from Sandusky and Toledo. The large site also offers room for expansion. Capt. Charley: “This location is perfect. Travelers can find us easily.”
Scot Smith’s background is in manufacturing. He is now learning from Capt. Charley, and “really enjoying the sport. We don’t do anything in manufacturing without checking with Capt Charley.” Smith currently has seven employees, will be adding a manufacturing engineer this month and hiring a student for the summer. In addition to their sales representative network throughout the U.S., Fowl Foolers is bringing on a sales representative for Canada. They also have upgraded their website to enhance online sales.
Why are Fowl Fooler decoys in demand?
Smith emphasized that the Fowl Fooler decoys are all American made. Local carvers are used to create the molds. The 120 styles of decoys offer the most extensive line of decoys in the industry. There are collectors who own a pair of Fowl Foolers of each breed of duck, and those who never hunt but purchase Fowl Fooler decoys for décor, as they are more aesthetically pleasing than plastic decoys. But it is all about the hunters and the ducks.
Charley: “Our decoys are more expensive, but much more durable (compared to plastic decoys). It is like the difference between a Bic lighter and a Zippo.” The burlap gives the appearance of feathers, which is enticing for the ducks, and the decoys are lightweight and durable, snow and ice resistant, which makes them popular with the hunters.
Smith also emphasized that, “Ours have the most robust decoy head in the industry.”
Ducks (heads)in a row
In addition to the decoys, Fowl Foolers manufacture and sell a line of duck calls and Capt. Charley’s latest invention, the Fowl Fooler Flapper. The Flapper, which is having its first manufacturing run this week, simulates a duck’s wings flapping, and is the first hand-held flapper on the market.
Fowl Foolers is putting the finishing touches on a retail showroom and conference room.
Somebody had to say it. It was Capt. Charley: “At Fowl Foolers we have our ducks in a row.”