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Every year, many of the country’s best wildlife artists compete to have their painting selected as the official artwork for the Federal Duck Stamp. But starting this year, if they want to take home the blue ribbon, they have some new criteria to meet.

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services announced that, beginning in 2020, the duck-stamp contest will include a “permanent theme of celebrating our waterfowl hunting heritage” and that it will be “mandatory that each entry include an appropriate waterfowl hunting scene and/or accessory.

In other words: Expect to see 870s, decoys, Labs, blinds, Bottomland, and happy hunters featured on the duck stamp for years to come.

“Duck Stamps have been one of America’s most effective conservation tool for over 80 years,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Showcasing the heritage of waterfowl hunting in Duck Stamps recognizes the importance of sportsmen and women to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”

Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, added that: “Waterfowl hunters are the epitome of conservationists, as their purchase of Duck Stamps has enabled the conservation of millions of acres of wetland habitat. These wetlands provide places for a wide diversity of wildlife to thrive, while creating significant economic stimulus for rural communities. We honor that astonishing legacy, and what better way to do that than through the Duck Stamp itself.”

For many waterfowl hunters, the day they purchase a federal duck stamp each year marks the unofficial beginning to the duck and goose hunting seasons. Since 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Duck Stamp Act, hunters have had to purchase an annual Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp—better known to sportsmen simply as a duck stamp—and in doing so have helped raise $1.1 billion, which has funded the protection for more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat.

We can hardly wait to see what the first winning duck stamp that features this celebration of hunting heritage looks like. Till then, we went through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s virtual museum of duck stamps and selected these past winners.

1. Mallards By Jay N. “Ding” Darling – 1934-1935

Mallards By Jay N. “Ding” Darling – 1934-1935 stamp on a black background.
This is the first ever duck stamp. A total of 635,001 were sold. Cartoonist and conservationist Jay N. “Ding” Darling, came up with the idea of using stamps to raise money for wetlands. From 1934 to 1936 he was chief of the Biological Survey, a precursor to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

2. White-Fronted Geese by Walter A. Weber – 1944-1945

White-Fronted Geese by Walter A. Weber – 1944-1945 on a black background.
A total of 1,487,021 duck stamps were sold in the season of 1944 to 1945. The artist of this stamp, Walter A. Weber, was a staff illustrator for the National Park Service and also worked with the National Geographic Society. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

3. Gadwalls by Maynard Reese – 1951-1952

Gadwalls by Maynard Reese – 1951-1952 on a black background.
This black and white wash tempera drawing of Gadwalls taking off from the water was Reese’s second duck stamp. In 1948 he won with a drawing of buffleheads. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

4. Harlequin Ducks by John H. Dick – 1952-1953

Harlequin Ducks by John H. Dick – 1952-1953 on a black background.
A year after gadwalls were featured on the stamp, John H. Dick won with this epic drawing of two harlequins flying over rough seas. Dick was a world traveler, photographer, and illustrated several books on wild birds. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

5. Ring-Necked Ducks by Harvey Dean Sandstrom – 1954-1955

Ring-Necked Ducks by Harvey Dean Sandstrom – 1954-1955 on a black background.
A picture that any waterfowler would appreciate, this drawing of two ring-necks diving towards the water was created by illustrator Harvey Dean Sandstrom. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

6. Common Mergansers by Edward J. Bierly – 1956-1957

Common Mergansers by Edward J. Bierly – 1956-1957 on a black background.
This stamp features two American mergansers flying low on a calm day. You can barely see the wingtip of the second bird reflecting off of the water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

7. Mallard by Maynard Reese – 1959-1960

Mallard by Maynard Reese – 1959-1960
This was the first stamp to be printed with multiple colors and it was a third win for Maynard Reece, who was the first artist to have his work selected for the duck stamp three times. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

8. Mallards by Edward A. Morris – 1961-1962

Mallards by Edward A. Morris – 1961-1962 on a black background.
For 1961 Morris of Portland Oregon submitted this watercolor painting of a mallard hen taking cover with a brood and won. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

9. Brant by Edward J. Bierly – 1963-1964

Brant by Edward J. Bierly – 1963-1964 on a white background.
If anyone has ever called to a raft of brant sitting just off a rocky coastline, they’ll understand this scene of two birds coming in for a landing. This was Bierly’s second duck stamp. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

10. Canvasbacks by Ron Jenkins – 1965-1966

Canvasbacks by Ron Jenkins – 1965-1966 on a black background.
Jenkins was living in Montana when he painted this picture of three drake canvasbacks. He was working as a freelance artist and art teacher at the time. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

11. Steller’s Eiders by Lee LeBlanc – 1973-1974

Steller’s Eiders by Lee LeBlanc – 1973-1974 on a black background.
LeBlanc was a former Disney cartoonist and an MGM Studios executive. Later in life, he became a freelance artist. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

12. Green-Winged Teal by Ken Michaelson – 1979-1980

Green-Winged Teal by Ken Michaelson – 1979-1980 on a black background.
Michaelson of California painted this up-close and personal portrait of two green-winged teal. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

13. Fulvous Whistling Duck by Burton E. Moore, Jr. – 1986-1987

Fulvous Whistling Duck by Burton E. Moore, Jr. – 1986-1987 on a black background.
Along with creating the painting for this duck stamp, freelance artist and conservationist, Burton E. Moore, Jr, has exhibited his work in many museums across the country. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

14. Redheads by Arthur G. Anderson – 1987-1988

14. Redheads by Arthur G. Anderson – 1987-1988 on a black background.
This image of redheads decoying low on the water is an ideal view from the inside of any duck blind. Aside from waterfowl, Anderson likes to paint a variety of animals that live near his home in Onalaska Wisconsin. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

15. Surf Scoters by Wilhelm Goebel – 1996-1997

Surf Scoters by Wilhelm Goebel – 1996-1997 on a white background.
Two surf scoters fly past the Barnegat lighthouse in New Jersey over a body of water steeped in the history of waterfowl hunting. Goebel began submitting his work for consideration when he was 18 years old and 17 years later he finally got his painting on a duck stamp. His work has been featured on many state wildlife stamps including those of New Jersey, Illinois, and Delaware. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

16. Canada Goose by Robert Hautman – 1997-1998

Canada Goose by Robert Hautman – 1997-1998 on a black background.
Along with his two brothers, Hautman is the third member of his family to win a Federal Duck Stamp Contest—which he did with this canada goose standing by the side of a lake in Minnesota. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

17. Greater Scaups by James Hautman – 1999-2000

Greater Scaups by James Hautman – 1999-2000 on a white background.
Before winning in 1999 James Hautman, Robert Hautman’s brother, became one of the youngest winners of a Federal Duck Stamp Contest in 1990. He also won in 1995 with a mallard that received a perfect score, and with this painting of two scaups, which also received a perfect score of 25. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

18. Canvasbacks by Adam Grimm – 2014-2015

Canvasbacks by Adam Grimm – 2014-2015 on a white background.
Adam Grimm of Ohio has won several state duck stamp contests, and he is a two-time Federal Duck Stamp artist. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

19. Ruddy Ducks by Jennifer Miller – 2015-2016

Ruddy Ducks by Jennifer Miller – 2015-2016 on a white background.
Self-taught artist Jennifer Miller created the painting of two ruddy ducks for this stamp. She also has painted several book covers and enjoys making sculpture. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

20. Mallards by Robert Hautman – 2018-2019

Mallards by Robert Hautman – 2018-2019 on a white background.
This was Hautman’s third win and it received a perfect score of 25 from a panel of five judges. Like “Ding” Darling’s original stamp, it shows two mallards in mid-flight. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services


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