Dick Owens is an avid hunter, craftsman and self-proclaimed Dumpster diver. All three of these titles, however, are closely related. Once you get Owens talking, you’ll quickly find out he’s a meticulous woodworker who has constructed nearly 4,000 wood-duck houses—3,881 in four decades, to be exact.
While wood-duck houses are scattered throughout the state of Minnesota, Owens’s are made with finesse and finished with a personal touch. “I mark the number on a board in my house and on the duck house itself. That way, people can know when it was made,” he says.
Owens uses recycled materials for each and every house he crafts, collecting extra wood from donations, construction sites and trash receptacles. Once the wood is cut, the houses take between 30 and 40 minutes to assemble, depending on which style he is making—standard or fancy.
While his houses are available for purchase, Owens donates most of them to local organizations like Delta Waterfowl, Minnesota Waterfowl and Ducks Unlimited.
With all of the time and energy that goes into this hobby, one must ask, why the wood duck? “It’s my favorite!” Owens says. “It can nest in a box in a tree; it’s prolific.” Because of this admiration, he’s stopped hunting wood ducks altogether, though his 50-year hunting hobby continues in other breeds.
Owens’s passion is contagious and he is eager to share his hobby with others. He does demonstrations for organizations like Gander Mountain and the Boy Scouts, showing individuals how to build a wood-duck house and, hopefully, get them involved in the craft as well.
The standard wood-duck house, which Owens describes as “simplistic and functional,” costs $22. The fancy model, which features a peaked roof and detailing, costs $35. To order a wood duck house or arrange a demonstration, call Owens at 612.875.8875.