Dale’s Bio

DALE DALRYMPLE has never followed the crowd. In college, when everyone else went to Florida for Spring Break, Dale headed for Maine. He arrived in -20 degree weather and had a great time.

When asked as a child, by adults, what he wanted to do when he grew up, Dale quickly said “Nothing!” “You mean you have no aspirations?” the adult would say. “Don’t you want to be a doctor or lawyer?” Dalrymple always replied he had no desire to work. “Wastes too much time.”

Vacations and summers found Dale with his dog, King, in the woods, fields, or on a trout stream they knew. Two trap lines, one before and another after school kept him busy enough.

And, always, they hunted. Anything in season; any season. His first call was a Sears. Long hours were spent (not wasted) deciding how to spend his meager funds to best advantage. Should it be a crow call or a squirrel? Such decisions cannot be made easily or rashly. In the end he chose the squirrel. Upon arrival home, however, he discovered the call in the squirrel box was a crow call! No matter. His next call was a predator call to cash in on the $3.00 bounty being paid on foxes.

An older man with glasses and a mustache, smiling while holding two wooden duck decoys, one on his lap and another by his side.
Dale in a recent picture from Decoy Magazine

Ducks didn’t enter into his hunting life until he could get a driver’s license. There were no ducks within walking distance of his home. His dad taught him to love the outdoors, but didn’t hunt, so Dale’s hunting education would be slow; self-taught by trial and error. Lots of errors!

After college, DALRYMPLE spent two years in the service of his country: Army Engineers in Washington state and Vietnam as a platoon leader. A job that wasted lots of time!

Next followed a career change: a Civil Service job writing Civil Service examinations in the areas of wildlife biology, forestry, etc. More time wasted.

The woods and streams beckoned. Demanded in fact! In order to have more time to hunt and fish, Dalrymple quit his secure State job and opened an antique shop. That was in 1973. Now he had control of his time, to a greater extent, anyhow. But the store had to be tended and antiques found, restored, delivered. Time wasted.

He began putting sporting collectibles in his shop. Decoys, fishing lures, traps. They sold! This was more fun than furniture. In October, 1980, Dalrymple closed his shop and began selling sporting collectibles out of his home. Dale’s Decoy Den was born. Lots of time saved! More hunting and fishing time. Brilliant move.

Still not a follower, Dale likes to be ahead, rather than behind, collecting trends. He added fish decoys to his inventory so long before they became popular that most of his customers didn’t even know what they were. The same with fish lures and duck, goose, crow, predator calls. He was one of the thirty-odd people who met at Monroe Michigan to begin a national call collectors club. He signed in, stated he was interested and in favor of starting such an organization and went to a friend’s home where the Mrs. had supper waiting. Since he “missed” the meeting, which started two hours late, he wasn’t counted as a founder. (he later served as President of that organization, the Callmakers and Collectors of America.) No matter, he knows he was there and didn’t have any more time to waste. Absentee ballots not withstanding, he did help organize other collectors’ organizations. He was founder and president of the first decoy collectors club in New Jersey: the Hunterdon County Decoy Collectors Association and he was a founder of the State club six years later.

As old decoys began to get overpriced and difficult to obtain, Dale began making his own. He evolved his own style, rather than following others. His decoys ride the backwaters; beaver ponds and small streams he seeks out to avoid the crowds. He has made just about fourteen-hundred (by actual count, not by guess) hollow cedar gunning decoys. He manages to hide a few from customers, each year, and uses them. They work! They have also collected him some ribbons, when he’s entered them in contests.

And he has lots of time to hunt. And does! He has friends who are successful: Doctors, lawyers, etc. They make lots of money. And they envy Dale’s free time! The little boy was right. He knew he did not want to grow up and get a job.

Dale breeds his own bird dogs: German Shorthaired Pointers. Not show dogs and not field trial racers. Dalrymple breeds well-behaved eager, responsive, affectionate, intelligent bird dogs. Dogs he can hunt with, not for. Thinking dogs. Dogs his young daughters can play on the floor with, and dogs that can and do slog through muck and briars all day long, and love it! Dalrymple’s dogs respond to him because he has the time to spend with them. Lots of time, none of it wasted.

Dale began call collecting in the time called “B.B.” That stands for before books. He found most calls were where he wasn’t. He wore out the telephone trying to find calls. Then he was told about a collection for sale in Kentucky. He bought it sight unseen. Trusting soul! And then his phone began to ring. Now he gets calls (both kinds) all the time.He’s made a lot of long distance friends. Good people. Call collecting is still pretty honest, Dale feels, but would like to see our club institute a policy of honesty and integrity like the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club. As prices rise, cheaters are drawn in to make a quick buck. The decoy market has been ravaged by fakes. Lure collectors have protected themselves from this with a strong national organization whose purpose is to promote interest and knowledge in lures, and to police their ranks to prevent fakery. In short, to protect collectors from being hurt, and keep fun in collecting. It may be too late for decoys, but it is not too late for calls.

As for his own collecting, Dale is purely eclectic: new, old, good, great, so-so. If it strikes a chord, he collects it, He collects calls, decoys, shotshell boxes, prints, lures, reels, rods, books, guns… but most of all Dale collects memories; memories of the people and the places associated with the objects.

When the “things” get to be more important than their place in the greater picture, he’ll quit collecting and get a job.


Dales Decoy Den