Federal stamp art winner will be on display at Bass Pro Shops Nov. 17
By JIM MATTHEWS
The winning 2018 federal duck stamp art will be on display at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga Nov. 17-18, along with the other top entries in the annual competition. Wildlife artist Scot Strom, who painted with winning design of a male wood duck, will also be on hand during the special two-day showing of the artwork 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
This will mark the 35th consecutive year the top duck stamp art and winning artist will come to San Bernardino County.
Three years ago it looked like San Bernardino County was going to lose its prestigious opportunity host the federal duck stamp art exhibit. For 32 consecutive years, the original art by the winning artist and the top 100 entries was shown the weekend before Thanksgiving at the San Bernardino County Museum. Even though the event raised $40,000 for the museum, its executive staff pulled the plug on the show causing San Bernardino County Fish and Game Commission officials to search for an alternative location at the last minute or lose the event. For the last three years, the event has been held at Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga thanks to store manager Bob Minor’s volunteering the store to keep this exhibition in Southern California.
When this event was originally held in San Bernardino County in 1983, it was the first time the original duck stamp art had ever been shown outside of Easton, Md., and it took some political wrangling to convince the feds the show needed to go on the road. After the first couple of years the art was exhibited in San Bernardino County, the duck stamp art indeed went on the road with the art booked at locations across the country. This year, even the judging moved out of Easton, Md., when it moved West to Las Vegas.
While it is frequently said the winning duck stamp artist becomes an instant millionaire, well, that may or may not be true. While the original art become the property of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the artist retains the right to sell reproductions of the artwork. Wildlife and hunting art collectors snap them up, and some artists do gross around $1 million on sales of their reproductions. Some, not as much, but for all winners, it usually helps launch or anchor their careers as wildlife artists.
Storm, an artist from Freeport, Minn., who also won the competition in 2003, was chosen as the 2018 winner during the final judging Sept. 15 at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. Storm's acrylic painting will be made into the 2019-2020 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2019. These stamps are required of all waterfowl hunters in all 50 states, and the $25 stamp fee raises about $40 million each year. All these funds are used to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
“Waterfowl hunters are some of our nation’s most passionate wildlife conservationists,” said Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. “More than 80 years after it was established, sales of the Duck Stamp to hunters, bird watchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and collectors have raised more than $1 billion to conserve nearly six million acres of habitat for birds and other wildlife and provide countless opportunities for hunting and recreation on our public lands.”
To recognize the contributions of waterfowl hunters, who have been instrumental in conserving our nation’s wildlife, all entries in this year’s contest were required to include depictions of one or more hunting-themed elements. Storm’s artwork featured a wood duck decoy.
You can contribute to conservation and America’s great outdoors tradition by buying Federal Duck Stamps at many national wildlife refuges, sporting goods stores and other retailers, through the U.S. Postal Service, or online at the Fish and Wildlife Service website. For more information on the duck stamp art competition, buying stamps, and where the money is spent, go to https://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp.php.
Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 909-887-3444.