Introducing the Leland Little Sporting Arts Department


We are pleased to announce the addition of Sporting Arts to the roster of expert departments in which Leland Little Auctions specializes. Led by Robbie Smith, native North Carolinian, veteran sportsman, and dedicated sporting art collector and curator, the department will focus on rare and collectible decoys from the southeast, and expand from that to include all manner of sporting art.

Robbie Smith was born to both art and hunting. His family were all artistic - music on his father’s side, art on his mother’s - and he grew up hunting the same ground with his grandfather and father on which the decoys about which he’s become so knowledgeable were made. Some years ago, Smith started a company called Fish Hawk Threads that made thread for both large producers of fishing rods and small, custom makers.
Through that line of work Smith became interested in high end antique and custom fishing rods. He amassed a substantial enough collection that he drew the attention of the editors at Garden & Gun Magazine. They wanted to feature a story on Smith’s collection and how he displayed it. But to Smith, the rods were more tools than art. Rather than putting them on the wall for aesthetics, Smith had them tucked away in cabinets, and he took them out only to fish.
LLA Sporting Art Director Robbie Smith
Garden & Gun’s artistic take on Smith’s fishing rod collection, however, got him thinking about the artistry of hunting tools, and he started to grow a decoy collection on the back of a reproduction that his wife had given him. He took the first few decoys that he bought for authentication, and they turned out to be misattributed or restored. After the twists and turns of those first purchases Smith was hooked, not only on the craftsmanship and history of the decoys, but on the process of correctly identifying and attributing them, and the importance of that work to the preservation of the hunting culture and natural history of the Eastern North Carolina land where he has hunted and fished since childhood.
Smith’s involvement in the decoy collecting world runs deep. He is on the Board of Directors at The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, and he co-curated an exhibit at the Ducks Unlimited Heritage Museum in Memphis, TN. He also produced the documentary film, Core Values, about the decoys, oral history and folk art of Core Sound, in North Carolina's Outer Banks. As Smith notes, the inventory at other auction houses that focus on sporting art leans more towards birds of the Northeast. Smith looks forward to Leland Little Auctions becoming the place for Southern waterfowl enthusiasts to collect the work of the important craftsmen of the region. His vision for the Sporting Art Department extends beyond merely auctions to lectures and other events. The department will be a true home to the sporting art collecting community in the Southeast.
Winter Decoy & Sporting Art Auction

Thursday, February 25th
12:00pm (EST)

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