The 2022 edition of the annual federal duck stamp art contest was originally scheduled to take place at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck on September 23-24. This was an appropriate choice, as North Dakota is at the center of the hallowed Prairie Pothole Region and, therefore, of great importance to North American waterfowl as one of the primary breeding grounds and also a place of rest and refuge for migratory birds moving up and down the Central Flyway.
Unfortunately, for the third year in a row an uptick in Covid cases caused the event, once again, to be cancelled and the contest was held virtually, from a “controlled environment” in the Washington, D.C. area. As in the past two years, the USFWS streamed Day One and Day Two of the contest live on YouTube from a link on their website (see Figure 1).
Please note: The video for Day Two has a glitch; after pressing the red “play” arrow in the middle of the screen, hover your curser over the timeline bar at the lower left and click on it just past the beginning. The video will then play.
The Hautman Bothers Dominate the Contest…
At the end of the weekend, Joseph Hautman, who lives in Plymouth, Minnesota was chosen as the winner with his acrylic painting of three tundra swans flying over a wetland (see Figure 2). Joseph joins his brother, James, as the only artists to win the art contest six times; James achieved this feat only last year. Along with their brother, Robert, the Hautmans have come to dominate the federal duck stamp program with a combined total of 15 wins in the last 33 years – including five of the seven (see Figures 3 –6).
For a recent (June 26, 2022) online article about the Hautman brothers presented by CBS News Sunday Morning, see A true duck Dynasty: Wildlife artists Jim, Robert and Joe Hautman.
…Despite a Renewed Interest Among Artists
Frank Mittlestadt of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin placed second in 2022 with his own acrylic tundra swan painting and Robert Hautman placed third with an acrylic of American wigeon. That the brothers placed first and third is all the more impressive considering the number of entrees increased substantially this year.
In all, 192 entrees were submitted, however, five of these were disqualified as the artists failed to follow the rules (to see the 2022 entry form and regulations, click here). As in the past, low resolution scans of the 187 entrees that were judged were made available for viewing via flickr.
The five species eligible for this year’s art contest were the American green-winged teal, American wigeon, Barrow’s goldeneye, mottled duck and tundra (whistling) swan. The entrees were judged by Richard Houk, philatelist; Marshall Johnson, conservation partner; Sean Murtha, an artist from the Bruce Museum in Connecticut; Christopher Nicolai, waterfowl biologist and Paul Schmidt, conservation partner.
The above is per the official USFWS press release and Suzanne Fellows, Chief of the Federal Duck Stamp Office; an introduction by Suzanne and much more biographical information about the judges is included in the beginning of the Day One video above.
Of the 187 entrees, 54 made it out of the (first) “in or out” round and into the second round where they were scored by each of the five judges holding up a card with a large 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 printed on it. The seven entrees with the highest cumulative score advanced to the final round. It was here that Joseph’s tundra swans was the clear cut winner with a score of 24 (see Figure 7).
Frank Mittlestadt’s tundra swan painting received a 21, good for second place (see Figure 8) and then there was a three-way tie for third. At this point, the judges were asked to vote again on the three pieces and Robert’s American wigeon officially claimed third place.
Drake University Chosen as 2023 Contest Site
For those unaware, Drake University, located in Des Moines, Iowa was originally selected to host the 2020 federal duck stamp art contest. The event was intended to pay tribute to two native sons, who just happen to be two of the most important protagonists in the U.S. waterfowl stamp story – Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling and Maynard Reece.
Sadly, what would have been a marvelous celebration of the program and duck stamp hobby had to be postponed due to the outbreak of Covid19 in the U.S. With a little luck, we may still be able to enjoy that experience as Drake has been selected to host the 2023 contest (see Figure 9).
In the meantime, Joseph’s tundra swans will grace the 2023-24 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp where it will raise badly needed funds to help protect wetland habitats within the National Wildlife Refuge System. It is important to understand that these areas provide support and safety not only for migratory waterfowl – but for over 500 additional species that call theses refuges home. To purchase a federal duck stamp, click here.
Congratulations and our heartfelt thanks go to Joe and the entire Hautman family for all that you have done for both North American wildlife and the hobby of duck stamp collecting from all of us at Waterfowl Stamps and More.