Hautman wins 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Contest
Building further on an unparalleled family legacy in wildlife art, Robert Hautman of Delano, Minn., won the 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Contest.
It marked the third time Hautman won the prestigious competition and the 13th time he or one of his brothers — James and Joseph have each won five — has taken the top prize.
"I want to thank my brothers for winning the last two years, so I didn’t have to get beat by them," Robert Hautman, 58, said at the Saturday ceremony in Stevens Point. "And thanks to everybody who supports ducks. It’s a great deal."
Hautman's winning painting shows a drake and hen mallard drifting in for a landing, wings extended, in the foreground with other ducks in the distance.
The artwork will appear on the 2018-'19 Federal Duck Stamp.
UW-Stevens Point hosted the event in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Four Wisconsin artists have won the contest: Walter E. Bohl 1943-'44; Owen J. Gromme 1945-'46; Martin R. Murk 1977-'78; and Arthur G. Anderson 1987-'88.
But the 2017 contest marked the first time the competition was held in Wisconsin.
A panel of five judges winnowed 215 entries in three rounds of scoring on Friday and Saturday.
Greg Alexander, 57, of Ashland, Wis., finished second with a painting of cinnamon teal. Third place was awarded to Christine Clayton, 23, of Sidney, Ohio for a painting of blue-winged teal.
The judges, whose identities were kept secret prior to the contest, were: Jane Kim, an artist from California; Tim Pearson, an artist and fishing guide from Duluth, Minn.; Richie Prager, a duck stamp collector from Greenwich, Conn; Bob Spoerl of Waupaca; and Jacob Straub of Stevens Point.
Spoerl is a businessman who serves on the national board of conservation organization Ducks Unlimited.
Straub is an assistant professor at UW-Stevens Point where he works as the Kennedy-Grohne Chair in Waterfowl and Wetlands Conservation.
The winning entry in the contest is often referred to as the "million dollar duck" because of the financial implications for the winning artist.
The Federal Duck Stamp contest is the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government.
The stamp program was initiated in 1934 to raise funds to improve habitat conditions and assist waterfowl populations, including some, such as the wood duck, that were threatened.
All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must purchase and carry a Federal Duck Stamp. The stamp costs $25.
In addition to hunters, many conservationists, artists, collectors, bird watchers and other outdoor recreationists also buy the stamps to support wildlife conservation.
To date, stamp sales have raised more than $950 million and have protected nearly six million acres for birds and other wildlife, according to the service.
The Federal Duck Stamp is considered one of the most successful conservation programs ever created not only for its impact on improving and preserving wetland habitats but for its efficiency. For every dollar spent on the stamp, 98 cents go toward acquiring vital habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife, according to audits of the program.
Wisconsin, which typically ranks in the top five states for number of waterfowl hunters, has long been a major contributor of stamp revenue.
The program also has had a substantial impact in the Badger State, helping to protect: 21,136 acres at Horicon National Wildlife Refuge; 11,799 acres at Leopold Wetland Management District; 7,435 acres at St. Croix Wetland Management District; 597 acres at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge; and 262 acres at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.
The 2018 Federal Duck Stamp Contest will be held at Silver Spring Preserve Nature Center near Las Vegas.