Has become a legend among wildlife artists. He has won nearly every major wildlife art competition that he has entered. His limited edition prints are sold out almost before they are pulled from the presses, and his finely detailed decoys have consistently raised the standards by which decoys are judged.
Hayden's decoys have won the highest honors in every contest in which he has competed, including the U.S. National Show (New York), the Canadian National Show (Toronto), the Midwest Decoy Contest (Michigan), and the International Decoy Contest (Iowa). He is the only five-time Best of Show winner in floating decorative art at the World Championship Contest.
Hayden's switch from carving to painting (in the late 1970's) stemmed from his success as an artist and illustrator. However, the separation that divides the two disciplines is very narrow, especially considering Hayden's super realistic, tight renderings of waterfowl.
His paintings almost seem like bird carvings on illustration board, carvings without wood. "I paint a picture the same way I paint a decoy. I sketch the feathers the same way I would for a decoy, and I paint with the same techniques. I have to remind myself that I'm not working with a three-dimensional object, and I have to consciously put in highlights and shadows."