Matt Kneisley of Conestoga, Pa., has hunted his spread of 120 Model 72 Herter decoys for forty years. In an absolutely despicable act, thieves stole 110 of the decoys—carrying an estimated worth of $8,500 and priceless sentimental value—sometime between noon on Thanksgiving Eve and 4 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. The spread was on the Susquehanna River near Peach Bottom, Pa.
"It's bad enough that I lost my Dad this year four months ago, now someone took my decoys we hunted together since I was five years old," Kneisley wrote on Instagram. "Please keep an eye out for anyone selling custom-painted Herters decoys. Bluebills, cans, redheads, mallards and black ducks. Ten floater geese and five V-boards with geese. There is a reward for anyone who helps find the person responsible."
Kneisley routinely left his decoys on the river, saving time (assembling/disassembling 120 cork decoys is no easy task) and allowing him to hunt briefly every day. It's an old school tactic (my father did it) that faded approximately in the '80s due to decoy thieves. However, in four decades Kneisley never ran into trouble.
"I just can't imagine someone going through all that trouble to take that many," Kneisly told Lancaster Online, noting that each decoy was anchored by a 6-pound weight.
The theft is additionally surprising given that Kneisley is well-liked and well-known in the area. He is the Northeast Regional Director of Delta Waterfowl, and he allowed many other hunters to gun his spread. I suspect the thief knew exactly whose decoys he was stealing, and it sickens me to know that someone, somewhere knows where they are.
Folks, these decoys should be easy to spot, as classic Herters are easily recognizable to most waterfowlers. Lancaster Online has a fairly comprehensive photo gallery of Kneisley's stolen blocks. Spread the word. Let's get the poor guy his decoys back.