The summer and fall months have not been kind to to those who live in California the last five years. It has been unusually dry (very little rainfall), hot, windy and, over the last two years, we have had dry lightening thrown into the mix. Having had to evacuate three out of the last four years from the threat of wildfires, I now find myself reluctant to take on lengthy projects (such as multi-part blog series) in the summer and fall months – fearing they could be interrupted at any moment for an unknown period of time.
This, however, has not prevented us from working on several other website projects that can be accomplished in shorter periods of time. Over the past couple of months – with the help of several other collectors – we have added 20 new galleries. Up until this point, the only way to access these new additions has been through the Gallery Index; so I decided to write this blog which serves to summarize some of our recent work, provide some explanatory text and links to the new galleries.
We are sensitive to the fact that within the broad field of fish and game stamps, most collectors have a particular interest in one or more specific subjects – such was waterfowl stamps, fishing stamps, big game stamps and so on. For this reason we are constantly striving to spread our time between all of the different collecting possibilities and the recent gallery work is no exception.
There is, however, one area that we did focus more time on than the others, as it is part of a major project that I am spearheading and which has been scheduled to be completed over the period of a year and a half; enough time to accommodate not only the busy schedules of everyone involved – but even allow for a natural disaster or two during this unusual period of time in which we now find ourselves living.
Updating the Waterfowl Catalogs
Many of the new galleries pertain to non-pictorial waterfowl stamps that, for various reasons, have not yet been included in either the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers (see Figure 1) or the Waterfowlstampsandmore.com online catalog.
As part of a joint effort on the part of Jay Bigalke and Marty Frankevicz at Scott; Eric, Kaiya and myself at Waterfowl Stamps and More and with help from Ira Cotton, Michael Jaffe, Howard Richoux and other leading collectors and dealers, our goal is to bring the waterfowl sections of all major U.S stamp catalogs, to include Ira Cotton’s Catalog of U.S. Fish and Game License Stamps and Labels (which will soon be reformatted as a comprehensive, illustrated collector’s guide without valuations) as accurate and up-to-date as possible by the end of 2022.
As many of you are aware, just about all areas of philately are currently experiencing an exciting renaissance and the updated, all-inclusive catalogs and guides will help provide an important foundation upon which our fish and game hobby can build and prosper in the coming years.
This is a fairly large undertaking which is scheduled to be completed in a series of stages – and the addition of the new non-pictorial waterfowl stamp galleries is the second stage in the process (after identifying, gathering and scanning of as many examples as possible).
In today’s blog, all of the new galleries will be presented by state, in alphabetical order. Those galleries pertaining to previously unlisted non-pictorial waterfowl stamps will serve as the basis for upcoming additions to the current Catalog of U.S. Non-Pictorial Waterfowl Stamps (stage three).
The process has been formulated, in part, to allow dealers and collectors ample opportunity to view the galleries and contact us with more possible additions prior to catalog publication. For example, at this point we still need scans for several of the Michigan Managed Waterfowl and West Virginia Waterfowl stamps. Speaking for everyone involved, we welcome your participation.
The New Galleries
2014 – 2021 Arizona Migratory Waterfowl Stamps
Arizona first issued waterfowl stamps in 1987 and through the 2013 seasons, all of the stamps were pictorial. Following the 2013 seasons, Arizona began issuing non-pictorial waterfowl stamps and they continue to do so in 2021. The stamps, themselves, are located in the upper left of a three-part card / pane which measures approximately 217 mm x 140 mm, including a 14 mm tab along the left side to accommodate staples. An unknown number of panes are stapled together to form a booklet (see Figure 2). To view the gallery, click here.
California Pheasant Stamps
California began requiring pheasant hunters to purchase a special stamp and affix it to their license in 1970. The stamps were issued for five years and the series was discontinued following the 1974-75 season. Each stamp conveyed the right to shoot ten pheasants. According to E.L. Vanderford’s Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps, they were not required for hunting at licensed pheasant clubs.
1970-71 stamps were designed by Paul Johnson and featured a pheasant in flight (see Figure 3). The stamps were die-cut and measured approximately 45 mm x 25mm. Ten stamps were mounted on a protective backing and issued in fold-out booklets with cardboard covers.
Subsequent issues featured the same design, were also die-cut and of similar size. However, the larger panes were cut down to panes of five (1 x 5) with a tab at the top to accommodate staples. The protective glassine backing was rouletted between the stamps to facilitate separation by license clerks. An unknown number of panes were stapled together to form a booklet. To view the gallery, click here.
California Pheasant Stamps – NO FEE Overprints
For each year of issue, pheasant stamps were overprinted for disabled veterans. Section 3036 of the 1971-72 code read: “A veteran, having 70 percent or greater service-connected disability…is entitled to receive, free of charge…a pheasant stamp…. Proof of such disability shall be required and shall be by certification from the Veterans Administration or, if the veteran is over 55 years of age, by proof that he was issued a license under this section in the previous year.”
The NO FEE overprint Types II and III which were applied to the California hunting license validating stamps, were also used on the pheasant stamps. For more in-depth information on all the California NO FEE overprints, click here. All overprints that have been recorded on the pheasant stamps are in red ink (see Figure 4). To view the gallery, click here.
Colorado Additional Day Fishing Stamps
According to Colorado fish and game specialist Ken Pruess, beginning in 1982 Colorado started issuing stamps to extend short-term fishing licenses by additional days – one stamp required for each day (see Figure 5). The series was discontinued following the 2003 season. To view the gallery, click here.
Illinois Inland Trout and Lake Michigan Salmon Stamps
Starting in 1976, Illinois required fishermen to purchase a salmon stamp. This continued through 1993 at which time the salmon stamp series was superseded by two new stamp series; an inland trout stamp (see Figure 6) and a Lake Michigan salmon stamp (see Figure 7). Both of the latter two series were discontinued following the 2006 seasons. To view the salmon stamp gallery, click here; to view the inland trout stamp gallery, click here and to view the Lake Michigan salmon stamp gallery, click here.
Michigan Managed Waterfowl Area Passbook Stamps
These stamps were issued to hunters at state-owned and managed game areas where waterfowl hunting was allowed. Waterfowl hunting at these areas were by local permit only; in other words, the permits were only available at a district office near the site. Permits were (and still are) issued for a morning hunt or an afternoon hunt and only valid for the time and location specified on the permit. They were allotted to hunters via a drawing process.
From 1986 through 1994 a die-cut stamp, measuring approximately 33 mm x 30 mm was substituted for the paper permit and required to be affixed inside the Michigan hunter’s passbook (which also served as a stamp carrier). During this period, a separate card measuring approximately 50 mm x 64 mm was also issued to the hunter along with the stamp; the card was rubber-stamped with the name of the game area and also the date and time (A.M. or P.M.) of the hunt (see Figure 8).
There were two different stamps issued; the first conveyed the rights to hunt at the area for the entire waterfowl season. In this sense, they served a similar purpose to the Honey Lake Waterfowl Stamps. Such stamps and were overprinted with a large “S”. The second stamp conveyed the rights to hunt waterfowl for one day and, therefore, served the same purpose as the Illinois Daily Usage Stamps. The latter were overprinted with a large “D” (see Figure 8). To view the gallery, click here.
1997 – 1999 Minnesota Special Canada Goose Stamps
From 1997 through 1999, Minnesota issued a Special Canada Goose Permit in the form of an adhesive stamp (see Figure 10). Not a lot is known about these stamps. I have spent a considerable amount of time studying Minnesota regulations, DNR bulletins and newspaper articles from this period and believe they were required for a limited early goose hunt in September from 1997 through 1999 and also an “experimental” extended late goose season held in December during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. If anyone has more information, please contact us. To view the gallery, click here.
1969 – 1978 Montana Fishing Stamps
Montana first required sportsman to purchase fishing license stamps for the 1969-70 season. Starting in 1969 and continuing through the 1978-79 season, four different stamps were issued each year: one for Montana residents and three for non-residents. The non-resident stamps included one-day, six-day and entire season options.
According to Vanderford’s Handbook, the stamps measured approximately 30 mm x 40.5 mm; were rouletted in either black or red (see Figure 11) and issued in booklet panes of 10 (5 x 2) with a tab at the left. Presumably, one or more panes were stapled between cardboard covers to form a booklet. To view the gallery, click here.
1980 – 1999 Montana Fishing Stamps
No fishing stamps were issued for the 1979-80 season. Staring with the 1980-81 season and continuing through 2001-2, Montana resumed requiring fishermen to purchase a stamp and affix it their license. They were long, die-cut “strip-type” stamps that varied in size from 120-125 mm wide (approximately five inches) by 15-20 mm tall (see Figure 12).
It is believed that from 1980-81 through 1981-82, the same four stamps were issued as in the past; one for Montana residents and one-day, six-day and season stamps for non-residents.
Starting in 1982-83, it is believed the one-day and six-day non-resident stamps were discontinued and a new two-day stamp issued in their place. Starting with the 1986 issues, it is believed the non-resident season stamp was discontinued – leaving non-resident fishermen with only the two-day stamp as an option.
By 1986, the die-cut stamps were printed in panes of ten (1 x 10) with a tab at the top. One pane was stapled between cardboard covers to form a booklet. Starting in 1987, the size of the stamps were reduced to 72-75 mm wide by 11-12 mm tall.
By 1988, the resident stamps were issued in two different formats; in addition to those printed in booklet panes, a second type was printed on a card measuring approximately 183 mm wide by 83 mm tall. The card was rouletted around the stamp and at tabs on both ends. One tab was glued to a current year’s fishing license and an unknown number of these license-stamp combinations were stapled together to form a booklet via the tab at the opposite end. To view the gallery, click here.
New Mexico Stratified Hunting Season Stamps
In order to reduce hunting pressure on big game species, New Mexico implemented a system of “stratified hunting seasons” beginning with the fall seasons in 1975. “As each big game – deer, bear and turkey – license is sold, the vendor will stamp it “A” or “S” to indicate the hunt area, then validate with a code designating which of the stratified hunt periods was selected by the purchaser.” A small, adhesive validation stamp was then affixed to the hunter’s license (see Figure 13).
The state deer season was divided into three parts under the new system and “the hunter was eligible to hunt deer during only one of the three designated periods.” The system was a success; the previous season (1974) it was estimated that “80 to 90 per cent of the hunters were in the field on opening day.” with the stratified hunting system, opening day pressure was “much lighter” as a lot of hunters selected the last two segments.
By 1977, the system was revised such that deer hunters were required “upon the purchase of a big game license, to select which one of three sporting arms he wished to hunt with. He must select among the bow, the muzzleloading rifle, and the modern firearm.” Additional changes in the rules reduced the duration of the last two segments, from six and nine days, respectively, to five and seven days – with two-day no hunting periods inserted between each of the three segments.
In the second half of the 1970s, a new stamp was issued. It was larger, had a place to circle deer or elk (which had been added to the stratified hunting species list), the type of weapon selected, the license number and the name of the license agent. A similar stamp replaced it in the early 1980s (different color) and then, in the late 1980s, a significantly larger stamp was issued that had places for comprehensive information and it was serial numbered in red ink. To view the gallery, click here.
New Mexico Turkey Stamps
The earliest New Mexico Turkey Stamp recorded was issued for the 1983-84 season; it was a non-pictorial combination stamp that served resident, non-resident and duplicate (lost stamp) purposes. Two years later, for the 1985-86 season, New Mexico issued their first Turkey Validation Stamp, which was also non-pictorial.
For 1986-87, New Mexico commissioned renowned wildlife artist Daniel Smith to create a painting that would be used for the vignette of all future turkey validation stamps (see Figure 14). However, after only three pictorial issues the series was discontinued. Smith’s beautiful, oversized stamps (measuring approximately 65 mm x 53 mm without the accounting tab at the left) remain favorites with fish and game collectors today. To view the gallery, click here.
Texas Saltwater and Trout Fishing Stamps
In 1985, the Texas Legislature authorized the Parks and Wildlife Department to print and issue two types of fishing stamps; one for saltwater species and another for inland freshwater trout fishing. However, because of delays in accepting the artwork for the stamp designs – neither stamp was required until January 1, of 1986 (see Figure 15). The stamps were not required of sportsmen under the age of 17 or over the age of 65.
New stamps would be put on sale on August 31 of each year. This means the first Texas stamps for saltwater and trout, respectively, were only valid for eight months as opposed to a full fiscal year for the remaining stamps in each series.
The saltwater stamp was required of all persons who fished in the salt waters of Texas for non-commercial purposes. This included crabbing as well as the gathering of oysters off public oyster reefs (see Figure 16).
The trout fishing stamp was originally only required to be purchased before fishing in streams that were state-stocked with trout and the revenue generated was intended to help off-set the cost of administering the program. However, prior to the stamps being put on sale, it was decided to expand the requirement to “persons fishing state waters where there are any species of trout.”
Prior to both series’ inception, Texas officials eyed additional revenue from stamp collectors (as their pictorial waterfowl stamp program, inaugurated in 1981, had been quite successful in that regard). Thus, the two fishing stamp series are among the most attractive in the fish and game hobby and the oversized, vertical 1986 trout stamp whose artwork was created by Chris Morel is considered one of the prettiest license stamps ever issued (see Figure 17).
Following the 1995-96 seasons, Texas no longer required the purchase of either saltwater or trout stamps. However, in an attempt to maintain the revenue stream from collectors – they continued to print and issue stamps labeled “Collector’s Edition” through 2015. To view the saltwater stamp gallery, click here. To view the trout stamp galley, click here (only required stamps are included in either gallery).
Utah Deer Stamps
This next series holds one of the hobby’s greatest mysteries; one that could some day prove to be earthshaking. The first Utah Buck Deer Stamp, for the Wasatch District, was acquired by E.L. Vanderford sometime prior to the publication of his Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps in 1973 (see Figure 18).
In the Handbook, Van provided a description of the stamp: “Face value unknown. Black on pink. Utah state seal and printed text. Black serial number. Imperforate, 37 x 47 mm overall.” At that time, Van could find little information to add, “Believed to to have been required to take one buck deer in cited district. May possibly have been issued on a drawing basis… Information on this or any similar issues is solicited.”
The pink stamp remained the only recorded example of a Utah Buck Deer Stamp for nearly 50 years (up until just a few years ago), and by the time Van allowed me to acquire it for my first exhibit, it had already assumed a lofty status within the fish and game hobby – legendary.
When I was writing up my exhibit in 1992, I was eager to learn more information about the stamp, which I could include on the exhibit page. However, like Van before me, I came up with zilch and the resulting text was rather vague and weak: “Very little is known about the buck deer stamp issued by Utah in 1940. Utah buck deer stamps have not been recorded for any other year. It is important in that it is the earliest recorded fish and game stamp issued by a western state or local government.”
Recently, a relative treasure trove of these stamps (three different, including one from 1938) was discovered by long-time fish and game collector Tim Hickey. Tim was kind enough to allow me to purchase the stamps from him to include on the Killer pages and, armed with the present day internet and my mad skills as philatelic researcher, I set out to improve our knowledge. Try as I might, still next to nothing to report.
I can add that due to a recognized dearth of big game in the state by 1907, all big game hunting seasons were closed for the next six years (between 1908 and 1913). At this point, a “buck-only” hunting law was passed by the Utah State Legislature in 1913 and it became effective for the 1914 seasons. This law allowed for the mule deer population to gradually increase over time until 1934, when strictly controlled antlerless hunts began to take place. However, the buck-only law was not repealed until 1951.
So, for me, the big question is this: since we know the buck only law lasted from 1914 to 1951 and we now have recorded examples from three different years (1938, 1940 (2) and 1941), how many other years in both directions were these elusive stamps actually issued (I can find no records).
More importantly, as the 1938 example is so close to the earliest recorded fish and game stamps – the Kansas quail and Pymatuning waterfowl stamps that were issued just one year earlier, in 1937, are we going to be in for the surprise of our lives one day – when a new Utah Buck Deer Stamp from before 1937 is discovered? Now, that would be exciting! To view the gallery, click here.
Utah Game Bird Stamps
This next series, while required to hunt waterfowl, is not one of the (previously unlisted) upcoming additions to the catalogs – it is simply a new addition to the galleries section of this website. The following information heads the Utah Game Bird listings in our online catalog:
“For two years only, 1951 and 1952, Utah required hunters of a variety of game birds, including waterfowl, to purchase a stamp and affix it to their license. The 1951 resident game bird stamps (see Figure 19) were issued in booklet panes of twenty five (5×5) with selvage at the left. The panes were imperforate on all four sides, but were perforated 12 1/2 between the stamps and between the stamps and the selvage. The 1951 non resident game bird stamps were issued in booklet panes of ten (5×2) with selvage at the left. The panes were perforated between the stamps and between the stamps and the selvage.’
“The 1952 resident and nonresident stamps were issued in booklet panes of ten (2×5) with a 20 mm vertical gutter separating the stamps on the left side of the pane from those on the right. The panes were perforated 12 between the stamps, gutter and selvage at the top. For all four Utah game bird stamps, one pane was stapled between printed covers to form a booklet. All four stamps have shiny gum.”
To this I would now like to add the following information. First, proof that these stamps were, in fact, required to hunt waterfowl in the form of a short newspaper article published in the Lehi Free Press on October 16, 1952 (see Figure 20).
Second, an explanation as to why the 1952 stamps are valued higher in the catalogs than those from 1951. Simply put, far less game bird stamps from 1952 entered the collector market. For 1951, the Utah Fish and Game Department overestimated the demand for the game bird stamps in advance of one of the greatest droughts in the history of the Southwest. The following year (1952) they overcompensated and ordered a far smaller number of stamps to be printed.
This resulted in license clerks and contracted venders very nearly running out of stamps. After the short-lived series was discontinued following the 1952 seasons, The Department conducted a sealed bid auction for all their fish and game stamp remainders, to include the game bird stamps from 1951 and 1952.
I do not know how many game bird stamps from 1951 were in the “lot”, however, correspondence from the winning bidder, Dick Green, to revenue specialist George Cabot indicates very few 1952 resident and non-resident stamps were included – 330 and 290, respectively. To view the gallery, click here.
2011 – 2013 Vermont Waterfowl Stamps
Vermont began requiring sportsmen to purchase a waterfowl stamp in 1986. From 1986 through 2010, the stamps were all pictorial. Starting with the 2011 issue and continuing through 2013, the stamps were non-pictorial (see Figure 20). Following the 2013 season, Vermont discontinued issuing adhesive stamps altogether and went to a computerized “point of sale”, wherein printed text and codes substitute for stamps on the hunter’s license.
The 2011 – 2013 stamps were die cut, measured approximately 26 mm x 50 mm and were affixed to a protective backing on sheets of ten (1 x 10), with the stamps turned sideways. Across the top of each sheet was printed “Vermont Waterfowl Stamp” and to the left of each stamp were two die-cut pieces of gummed paper bearing copies of the stamp’s serial number. It is believed these were for accounting purposes (see Figure 21). To view the gallery, click here.
1997 – 2004 West Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Stamps
West Virginia began requiring sportsmen to purchase waterfowl stamps in 1987. From 1987 through 1996, the stamps were pictorial. Starting with the 1997 issue and continuing through at least 2004, the black and white stamps were non-pictorial and fairly similar to the 2011 – 2013 Vermont stamps (see Figure 22). It is believed that following the 2004 season, Vermont discontinued issuing adhesive stamps altogether and also went to “point of sale.”
The stamps were die cut, measured approximately 52 mm x 26 mm and mounted on a protective backing that was separated into strips of ten (1 x 10). Across the top was printed the year date, “Migratory Waterfowl” and the abbreviation “MW.” There were white spaces on both sides of each stamp, with the one to the left imprinted with a copy of the stamp’s serial number for accounting purposes. To view the galley, click here.
2001 – 2014 Wyoming Special Goose and Light Goose Management Stamps
From 2001 through 2004, Wyoming issued non-pictorial waterfowl stamps required to hunt geese at the Springer/Bump Sullivan – Wildlife Management Area located in Goshen County (see Figure 23).
The stamps measure approximately 58 mm x 40 mm, are rouletted across the top and bottom and straight-edged on the sides (presumably from vertical booklet panes of five). A signature line was provided provided for the owner and the stamps were serial numbered in red ink (see Figure 24).
Then, as a result of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s Light Goose Conservation Order, “Those areas within the boundaries of the Bump-Sullivan Managed Goose Hunt [Area], including Bump-Sullivan Reservoir, shall be open to the taking of light geese [my emphasis]…”
According to Chapter 48, Section 4a: Conservation Order Special Management Permit [Stamp]. A conservation order special management permit shall be in possession of any person participating in the light goose conservation order and shall be immediately produced for inspection upon request of any authorized Department representative.”
Thus, from 2004 through at least 2014 (the Light Goose Conservation order was repealed in 2016), Wyoming issued a separate series of non-pictorial waterfowl stamps for light geese (defined as snow goose, blue goose or Ross’ goose).
The light goose stamps were die cut, measured approximately 38 mm x 25 mm and mounted in the upper right of a two-part card; the lower half of which was a detachable Light Goose Conservation Order Survey Card. Both the stamps and the survey card were printed with matching serial numbers in black or red ink (see Figure 25). Note: The survey card was required to be filled out and returned whether the sportsman “hunted or not.”
We would like to acknowledge collectors Ira Cotton, Tim Hickey, Michael Jaffe, Howard Richoux, Gary Silc and Bill Smiley – all of whom generously shared their time and contributed stamps to these galleries. We will be back next month; in the meantime, we wish for everyone to have a very safe and Happy Halloween!