Aldo Leopold once wrote, “there are some who can live without wild things and some that cannot”.
Add in art to this quote as well and you peer into Joe’s world. Eliminate wild things and art and there would not be a Joe Bucher. A self-taught artist and well known and accomplished carver, Joe’s beginnings weren’t all that simple. His interest in the outdoors stemmed from his early childhood years growing up on his beloved grandfather’s ranch in Oklahoma. He developed a love for ranching, bass fishing and later hunting the untold numbers of wild quail and prairie chickens that abounded there with the adults. Northeastern Oklahoma was a wild and woolly country back then crawling with oil wildcatters and sprawling cattle ranches. He grew up being involved in both. The real love of the outdoors was realized when a Kansas quail hunting trip turned into the interest of duck hunting. The pristine and unspoiled wetlands of southeast Kansas stopped thousands upon thousands of ducks on their annual migration south, blackening the sky at times. Incredible duck hunting was soon discovered in the native sloughs and marshes. His first duck was harvested at the age of 8, a beautiful drake wood duck that still to this day resides on his wall.
And this is the rest of the story!
Developing his skill at water fowling, he constantly searched for that perfect duck call which ultimately led him locally to “Marshland Game Call Company” and a gentleman by the name of Dale Largent. Joe discovered dale not only made “world champion” hunting calls, but also had some fancy “carved and painted calls”. Now Joe with his passion for art and the outdoors, this sparked an interest, “may I try to carve and paint one too?” He uttered. The answer was a big grinning smile and a “sure!” Shot from Dale’s lips. The carving thus began and so did a lifetime friendship. Joe worked diligently from high school through junior college carving, painting, banding and even tuning calls for Mr. Largent. As Dale grew older and Marshland began to wind down its operation, Joe began to accelerate his, carving and hand painting nonstop almost every species of waterfowl on calls and marketing his collectibles countrywide through national catalog companies, major retailers and numerous art galleries. The wildlife art market was “hot” in the 1970’s and Joe was fortunate to be able to exhibit his collectible carved duck calls at many of the prestigious wildlife art shows across the country. Not being able to fully supply ever increasing demands for his wildlife art, he helped develop a form of machine lasering from his original artwork. The original sketch was engraved onto the calls which then afterwards he meticulously hand painted each one individually with great time-consuming detail. This technique and style ultimately led him to work with “Ducks Unlimited”. Joe’s perfected duck call collectibles were distributed to thousands of “Ducks Unlimited” chapters nationwide and to all of Canada. Shortly after this successful venture, “Bass Pro Shops”, “Cabela’s” and the popular “Ducks Unlimited” catalog all became dealer partners. Numerous national corporate businesses including “John Deere”, “Riceland Rice Corporation” and “Caterpillar Inc. International”, have also joined with Joe to produce special limited editions of uniquely designed, pertaining to their industry, collectible calls.
With all this success, the artist in Joe was still not satisfied, there must be more, much more. He began to carve again, this time with more focus, to create matchless superb calls. Enter the national call making contests. Joe began to compete in these where he won numerous elite awards and first place blue ribbons. Fun as this was the need for more fulfillment was not achieved and again, there had to be more. But wait, there is more, perhaps the pinnacle of Joe’s career. Joe Bucher has set out on an awe-inspiring project to create a magnificent masterpiece collection of carved calls, the likes that has never been done. He is now carving the “North American Collection”. Truly the finest carved call collection ever made anywhere. The “North American Collection” will contain every species of waterfowl indigenous to North America, plus a few hybrids, and even one extinct duck species! However, this only tells part of the story. Each call is so incredibly detailed, it leaves one to wonder how that was carved! You have to squint and search to see all the flawless minute detail. The most incredibly fun and fascinating feature about each one of these calls is they were created with an individual unique theme. One may tell a vintage story, another show, a historical event or even one representing a classic water fowling area on the continent. Joe loves color, lots of it too. Each master carving is then skillfully, and detail hand painted solely by him. Joe hand brushes stunning colorful oil paints on the raw carving and not just any paint, but the finest pigmented, pure oil paints made in the world. Mostly imported from Europe, these are the same paint brands the old masters, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh used! The results are dazzling world class creations of imagination!
If possible, please try to see these at a wildlife art or sporting show near you. Folks, these are a national treasure!
Oh, and a little side note, did I mention Joe does superb fine art paintings!