There’s More to Ducks Than Pretty Pictures


After the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act providing for Federal Duck stamps was established in 1934, it soon became evident that for effective waterfowl management across America extensive cooperation of state and loyal authorities was required. During the 1930’s there was some qualified success to stem indiscriminate killing of waterfowl and to obtain funds for conservation as programs were adopted in many jurisdictions requiring hunters to purchase license. After World War II, the problem became more severe with the increased popularity of hunting, especially among many ex-GIs. To satisfy the demand for public hunting grounds and to introduce effective management and conservation programs, natural resource agencies in many states purchased and developed additional areas, for seasonal use during the year for hunting, but serving as refuge and feeding areas at other times.

To fund these programs and to provide evidence that hunting license fees have been paid, the use of stamps was introduced. Unlike the Federal stamps, these issues were strictly utilitarian and often consisted of nothing but a few lines of print on a gummed label.

In 1937, Ohio became the first state to issue waterfowl stamps for hunting in a specific location, the vicinity of Pymatuning Lake on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border (see Figures 2, 3 and 4).



Figure 2. Undated Pymatuning hunting stamp that was used for the 1937 season. One of three examples recorded.



Figure 3. Tennant Pharmacy, located on the Ohio side of Pymatuning Lake. This photo was taken after it was bought out by the Rexall Drug chain.The biggest Vendor for Pymatuning fishing and waterfowl stamps.



Figure 4. Pymatuning waterfowl stamp issued by Tennant Pharmacy in 1940. Used with a 1940 duck stamp, RW7.



In 1941, Marion County, Kansas, became the first local government authority to issue waterfowl stamps. Their 1943 issue was the first at any level of government to be inscribed “Duck Stamp.” (See Figures 5 through 9.)



Figure 5. Marion County, Kansas, 1940 fishing season opening day.



Figure 6. The first copy sold of the first Marion County waterfowl stamp. Sold to Park and Lake Superintendent Jerry Mulliken.



Figure 7. The 1943 Marion County issue was the first at any level of government to be inscribed “Duck Stamp”.



Figure 8. The “Waner” License, generally regarded as the most important license in fish and game philately; bearing the only examples recorded of of both Marion County stamps from 1949; also with U.S. 1949 Duck Stamp, RW16.



Figure 9. Marion County 1969 Duck stamp complete pane of ten containing one “Dusk” error (position eight).


The first state stamp issued to license hunting on a statewide basis was in South Dakota in 1949. The revenue earned helped keep the state’s duck population steady, both for preservation and hunting purposes. This was in sharp contrast to many parts of the country where waterfowl populations were in serious decline (see Figures 10 and 11).


Figure 10. The first stamp issued to hunt on a statewide basis; South Dakota’s 1949 waterfowl stamp. Rare variety printed on horizontal safety paper.



1950 SD WF Proof Block

Figure 11. Proof block of four of the 1950 South Dakota waterfowl stamp.



California and Illinois picked up on the theme in the 1950s with selective programs ( see Figures 12 and 13). In the late 1950s, the Rosebud Sioux tribe in South Dakota became the first Indian reservation authority to require purchase of waterfowl hunting stamps (Figure 14). Eventually, over 1,000 state, local, and tribal waterfowl stamps were issued, usually in very small quantities, to satisfy licensing requirements.



Figure 12. Illinois started using Daily Usage stamps in the early 1950s. The stamps were employed at at state run wildlife areas.



Figure 13. California also issued stamps for a state operated area, Honey Lake, starting in 1956. This example on license is the only sound copy.



Figure 14. In the late 1950s, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe became the first Indian Reservation authority to issue stamps required to hunt waterfowl.



Pages: 1 2 3 4

Leave a Comment