Ethan Olson

Grade: Junior.

Age: 17.

Art focus: Brainerd High School decoy carving.

Adviser nomination: “Ethan Olson just won first place in the Bob Johnson Invitational Decoy Carving competition,” Rick Jensen, the decoy carving teacher.

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Memorable fine arts achievement: Winning the 17th Annual Bob Johnson Invitational MN Fishing Museum Junior class Fish Decoy Carver Of The Year in 2021.

Artist most admired: Country singer Morgan Wallen.

Other fine arts activities: Painting and drawing.

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Why did you take the decoy carving class? I have a friend who took it, he was a senior, and he had told me about it. I do a lot of hunting and fishing and stuff, so I thought it might be a fun class to take just to see if I can make a decoy that looks pretty realistic. I always just fell into art and to do this stuff, I’m a lot more passionate about it.

There are different techniques you can use and it’s definitely things you can use in the long run, it definitely will be a hobby. If you wanted to go into taxidermy or something this class gives you different ideas of how to do it. This class has given me different ideas of what to do for a career.

How did the class go with distance learning? The beginning of the semester we were distant learning, and (Jensen) gave us a whole bunch of different tools to work with, but it's not as fun doing it at home. It means a lot more when you're with people, just to see different ideas people have.

What’s the biggest challenge in decoy making? The biggest challenge about it is getting the shape/form of it. And just getting down into the details because the smallest little mess-up can make it look a whole lot different.

It's more of the handwork, like the carving (that can be challenging) as you use scalpels and when sanding it you have to make sure it's really, really smooth. Otherwise, when you spray paint it, it comes out to be looking really, really rough and doesn't look as smooth as it should be, so every little bit of detail on it makes a big difference.

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What’s the easiest part of creating a decoy? It depends on what kind of a fish or creature you’re making, as you can make insects or frogs and those kinds of things. I would think making a fish would be the easiest.

Which decoy are you proudest of? I’m really proud of a black crappie I made last year. I put in a lot of details, like the scales and details in the guide plate. It actually has a mouth, so let’s just say there were a lot more details put into it.

Brainerd High School junior Ethan Olson Thursday, April 8, 2021, shows off a plaque he won with his tadpole decoy carving in this year's annual Bob Johnson Invitational Decoy Carving competition. Olson was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week for his decoy carvings. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd High School junior Ethan Olson Thursday, April 8, 2021, shows off a plaque he won with his tadpole decoy carving in this year's annual Bob Johnson Invitational Decoy Carving competition. Olson was named this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week for his decoy carvings. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch

Tell me about the decoy you made for the competition. We were told to make a frog decoy. I looked around at what the other kids’ decoys were like ... and with a lot of my decoys that I make, I like making them look more realistic. And this one, is more like a tadpole because it had to swim, obviously. I just kind of went with it. (Jensen) said he wanted it to look like a frog, but I wanted to give it kind of like a tadpole mix with a frog. I gave it more of a back and made my own design. I was happy how it turned out. There are some things I could have worked on more, but it was good.

I really didn’t think I would take first place with it, but when I found out I did it was pretty exciting. I think mine may have stuck out more because of the details on it. There were about 45-50 decoys at the competition.

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What’s your dream job? Planning on pursuing football in college, possbily look into being a game warden.

I just wanted to start pursuing football this past year when I started playing varsity with the Warriors. My dad was in football and his dad also coached him, so it means a lot more playing football. I don’t know where I will go but I’d want to play for the Minnesota Gophers.

Favorite movie: “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Favorite TV show: “The Ranch.”

Favorite book: “Prisoner B-3087.”

Favorite song: “Wasted on You,” by Morgan Wallen.

Favorite band: Rascal Flatts.

Favorite restaurant: Mongo’s Grill in St. Cloud.

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Favorite subject: Decoy and Design.

Perfect meal: Shrimp, chicken, steak and sausage and bell peppers mixed with rice.

Biggest pet peeve: When people are bullying.

Sports/clubs: Football, wrestling and trap shooting.

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing and being with friends and family.

What’s your best fish story? One time I was in Canada on the Rainy River and my grandpa was taking a nap, as he had his huge fishing pole in his lap. He was sitting there and all of a sudden his pole started falling out of his lap, but he was pretty hard sleeper so he didn't really notice it. My dad's friend went in and took the pole from him and started reeling it in. It took about two or three hours to reel in and we all took turns. It was the biggest sturgeon that I've seen, it was about 6 feet. Sturgeons can get up to about 6 feet long depending what kind of species it is.

Parents: Kaleb Olson and Melanie Olson of Brainerd.



JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at jennifer.kraus@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5851. Follow me at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl on Twitter.