Gallery Twelve

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.

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.

Turkey stamps are avidly collected by both hunters and collectors, especially in the southeastern United States. Typically, these collections are heavily populated with non-required, pictorial society issues such as those issued by various chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The reason being, there have been relatively few state required pictorial turkey stamps.

The earliest New Mexico Turkey Stamp that has been 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. 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.

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. 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.

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.


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.”

The oversized, vertical 1986 trout stamp whose artwork was created by Chris Morel is considered one of the prettiest license stamps ever issued.

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.

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.

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.”

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!


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 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.

Next, 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.

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. 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.

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. 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.

It would appear that relatively few waterfowl stamps were sold in West Virginia between 1997 and 2004. For this reason, there are currently many years for which no examples have been recorded.

If anyone has any information for the years not shown in this galley (and may be able to provide scans) we would be grateful for you input.

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.

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.

The Wyoming special goose stamps are significant in that they represent the first entirely new series of non pictorial waterfowl stamps in the 21st century. That is to say, they are not a continuation of either a non pictorial or pictorial series that originated in the 20th century.

The fact that a state government would introduce a new series of non pictorial stamps is an extremely positive development for the fish and game hobby as, historically, many collectors have sought these purely utilitarian issues out.

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 2013 (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. Note: The survey card was required to be filled out and returned whether the sportsman “hunted or not.”