Jode Hillman

Location of Interview
Collection Name

New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore


The Bayshore Center at Bivalve’s Oral History program is dedicated to preserving the oral history and culture of New Jersey’s Bayshore region by saving for posterity the oral histories and material culture connected with the Bayshore region, by creating a repository of recordings and data that can be used for research, by preserving, treasuring and celebrating the environment, history and culture of the Bayshore region and by sharing the heritage of the Bayshore region today and with future generations through program related activities serving visitors, students and scholars.

Date of Interview

Fantastic Transcripts

Principal Investigator

Jode Hillman, a professional decoy carver, has been in the profession for about seventeen years, with the last six years being professional. He specializes in making cedar decoys, which are primarily used for duck hunting. However, many people also collect these decoys as decorative items. Hillman's interest in the bay, duck hunting, and life on the marshes is deeply rooted in his family history. His father's family, the Hillmans, were avid fishermen who would often visit Fortescue for fishing trips during the weakfish boom years. Hillman's grandfather, nicknamed Sea Robin, was particularly fond of fishing and working on cars, a passion that Hillman himself shares. Despite his father not being a big fan of fishing, Hillman was introduced to the activity during his childhood and later became familiar with the area during his high school years. His early experiences of fishing and duck hunting in the area, including getting stuck in the mud and lost, sparked his interest and love for the bay and its associated activities.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Jode Hillman provides a rich and detailed account of his life, profession, and experiences related to the bay, duck hunting, and life on the marshes. Hillman shares his journey from being introduced to fishing and duck hunting by his family to becoming a professional decoy carver. He discusses the challenges and rewards of his profession, including the cyclical nature of income and the need for understanding from his wife, Lois. The interview also delves into Hillman's family history, particularly his father's family's fishing trips to Fortescue and his grandfather's love for fishing and working on cars. Hillman also shares anecdotes from his early experiences of fishing and duck hunting in the area, providing a vivid picture of the bay and its changing landscape. Additionally, the interview includes a discussion about the shacks on the bay and their history, based on the diary of Jonathan Kirchhoff, a World War I veteran who hunted a lot on the Cohansey and later in the Delaware Bay area. The interview provides valuable insights into the history, culture, and lifestyle associated with the bay and its surrounding areas.

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