National Fish Decoy Association


The National Fish Decoy Association

John Jensen

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In Memory of
John Marlowe Jensen, Senior
1929 - 2003

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Born on November 21st,  1929  in Minneapolis Minnesota, to John and Ruth Jensen

Died in Fargo North Dakota on June 13th,   2003

Interned at Oak Grove Cemetery in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

He is survived by his daughters, Anita Ramsey and Lorie Olson

His three sons, John M. Jensen Jr., Tom Jensen and Adam Jensen

His sisters, Muriel Gustafson and Patty Jensen

And his brother, Kenneth Jensen

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Ruth and his daughter, Helen Francis


About John Jensen
    John began carving in 1938 at the age of 9 years old. In the beginning he only carved animals, then from 1950 to 1957 he began making a few fish decoys. In 1983 he was actively carving fish decoys again after a few years off.

    All of John's fish decoys are hand carved with a knife and all are hand brush painted, primarily using oils. He is one of the few remaining carvers still using these traditional techniques. John made more than 700 fish decoys during his career, averaging about 35 decoys per year.

    At the time of his death, there was more than a 4 year waiting list for John's fish decoys. This waiting list has affected the value of his existing fish decoys. His death will surely increase the value of his decoys. As of June 2003, his decoys of about 10" length are trading at $450 to $850. Longer decoys such as his 23" Northern Pike trade between $2,700 and $3,500. Rare one-of-a kind fish decoys trade at $4,500 or more. His handcrafted fishing lures trade from $200 to $350 each.


Highlights of John's Carving Career

    John was a humble, quiet, kind and thoughtful man. He never talked about his achievements. He was an artist, a fish decoy carver and a teacher.

    Indeed, he needed some convincing to make his NFDA carver web site.
Even then he only listed some of his awards and accomplishments.
Many more remain unlisted, now probably forgotten forever.

    It is worth highlighting some of his Major Awards, Memberships
and Accomplishments here since the very size of the list
in the following section, blurs the individual items.

* The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. displays his fish decoys.

* His name is registered in the MN State Arts Board Folk Art Directory.

* With the MN State Art Board, he began the Fish Decoy Carving
       Apprenticeship Program.

* He is a Charter Member of the National Fish Decoy Association.

* A Charter Member of the Minnesota Fishing Federation Carver League.

* And a member of the Minnesota Dark House Spearing Association,
       Detroit Lakes Chapter.

* Instrumental in beginning the 'The Gathering' - home of the
       John Jensen National Fish Decoy Competition and the
       National Sporting Collectibles show.

John Jensen's Awards

John has a stack of awards.
The following is only a small portion of that list of awards!

2002 - The World Championships of Spearing and Fish Decoys featured a John Jensen northern, along with signature, on it's inaugural pin back button, with only 200 being produced.

2002 - The National Fish Decoy Association (NFDA) features a John Jensen trout on it's inaugural pin back button. The button bears his decoy, and signature. Only 200 of the collectible buttons were produced.

2002 - West Acres Mall, Fargo N.D., adds a permanent display of some of the rarest Jensen decoys as a Mall attraction.

2002 - Featured front page in Frazee Forum.

2002 - Appears in National Advertising for Recluse Lake Lodge, Manitoba, Canada.

2002 - Awarded a plague from In The News for his OUTDOOR LIFE cover feature.

2002 - Featured on the front cover of OUTDOOR LIFE , and featured inside for Fish of The Year. John's Manitoba northern was chosen from hundreds of entries.

2002 - Feature article in Sporting Classics on his Recluse Lake fishing trip using only his handmade fishing lures.

2001 - Featured article in Hunting & Fishing Collectibles National Magazine

2001 - Featured in the Minnesota Sportsman's Magazine.

2001 - Received the Master Angler Award from Manitoba, Canada, for a 42.5" long northern pike he caught on a promotional fishing trip to Recluse Lake Lodge on the Little Churchill River in northern Manitoba. On this trip he only used his hand made fishing lures.

2001 - Featured in the Lakes Area Magazine.

2000 - John was one of 4 featured Mn fish decoy carvers in a PBS documentary video called Folkart Beneath The Ice, which is still airing nationally on local PBS stations.

2000 - Carol Tappe, Minnesota wildlife artists introduces the second in a series of limited edition prints featuring John's decoys, called, Darkhouse Trophies.

2000 - Featured in the Minnesota Sportsman Magazine.

2000 - Received the first "Living Legend Award" from his peers at THE GATHERING 2000 banquet.

2000- John was instrumental in starting a National Sporting Collectibles Show called THE GATHERING and started the JOHN JENSEN NATIONAL FISH DECOY COMPETITION.

1999 - The Minnesota State Historical Society filmed a two day video about John and bought his fish decoys to display in the State Museum. The video can be viewed at the Museum.

1999 - Awarded a certificate from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Governor Jesse Ventura as the Minnesota State Arts Leader.

1998 - Minnesota Darkhouse Association decoy contest awards - 1st in Most Collectible class, - 1st in Working Fish Decoy, - Minnesota Decoy Carver of the Year Award

1998 - Les Kouba, a Minnesota famous wildlife artist, was working on a series of paintings featuring John Jensen's decoys . Unfortunately, Les passed away before the project could be completed.

1998- Carol Tappe, Minnesota wildlife artists features John's decoys in a winter fishing scene limited edition print called Winter Ritual.

1997 - Held a fish decoy carving demonstration at the University of Minnesota.

1995 - Featured in January / February issue of Decoy Magazine.

1995 - Awarded a plaque made from an article on the front page of the Fargo Forum by U.S. News.

1995 - Invited to the Smithsonian Institute.

1994 - Featured in the National Fishing Lure Collecting Club Newsletter.

1994 - Featured in the Country Times Newspaper.

1992 - Featured decoy carver at the Northern Lakes Decoy Collectors Show.

1991 and 1992 - invited to Show and Demonstrate Fish Decoy Carving at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead Minnesota.

1989 - Featured in the State Arts Board News.

1989 - Commissioned to carve five fish decoys for the Brainerd Regional Service Center's new building.

1989 - Appeared on WCCO TV in Minneapolis.

1989 - Demonstrated fish decoy carving at the Minnesota State Fair. Again, sponsored by the Minnesota State Arts Board.

1988 - Featured in the Folk Life Newspaper.

1988 - Showed and demonstrated , How to Carve a Fish Decoy, at Fort Ripley State Park. This event was a sponsored by the Minnesota State Arts Board.

1987 - John and the Minnesota State Arts Board started the first Fish Decoy Apprenticeship Program.


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Home Up John Jensen Otis Lael Doug Davis

 Copyright 2007-2014 National Fish Decoy Association
 Last modified: 11/16/14
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