Jim Hautman's winning painting of a pair of redheads for the Federal Duck Stamp Competition, 2022-2023 season.
Written by Jessi Cole
2021 Federal Duck Stamp Competition Winner
No one has won the Federal Duck Stamp Competition more times than Jim Hautman.
The prestigious competition began in 1934 with the release of the first federal duck stamp, created when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act.
The stamp alone is responsible for raising over a billion dollars ear marked bird conservation, and 5 million acres of wetlands have been preserved directly because of federal duck stamps sold. To say the program has been a success is a gross understatement; it’s been vital to the conservation of countless birds and bird species.
And to have your artwork featured on the annual stamp is an honor of a lifetime. Each year, hundreds of wildlife artists submit paintings for the chance for the prestigious honor.
Artist Jim Hautman next to a day's worth of ducks.
Jim Hautman and his two brothers, Joe and Bob, were introduced to the stamp at a young age. Their father was a passionate duck hunter—he actually made his own wood and cork decoys—and he collected the stamps each year since their beginning in 1934. He had five stamps from every year, only missing two years of collecting from when he served in WWII.
Jim, Bob, and Joe took the stamps seriously, and their own passion for the sport of duck hunting led them down the same paths as wildlife artists. And as true sons of their father, each of the brothers has won the federal duck stamp art competition multiple times. Jim now with six wins, Joe with five, and Bob with three. Their father lived long enough to see Jim and Joe both win, and he surely was filled with immense pride.
Jim became the youngest artist to ever win the Federal Duck Stamp Competition in 1989. He broke another record in 1994 when his painting of a pair of mallards received a perfect score of 25. He won his third, fourth, and fifth stamps in 1998, 2010 and 2016.
The painting of a pair of mallards that earned Jim the first-ever perfect score of "25" and the win in 1994-1995.
Jim and his brother Joe were neck and neck for a bit, both tied with five wins, and Jim says that there “is definitely a friendly competition between us. It’s a friendly rivalry but we are counting.”
And one of the three brothers seem to win each year. Between all three of them, they’ve won in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2021. And in 2016, each of the brothers came in first, second, and third place in the competition. A family sweep. They’ve been nicknamed the “Duck Dynasty” of wildlife art, a nickname Jim says he “wish he’d thought to trademark!”
The painting Jim won with for the 2021-2022 duck stamp is a painting of a pair of redheads, a type of diving duck that he greatly admires. There were five species options given to painters this year, and out of the options, Jim says the redhead “jumped out to me straight away. We like hunting diving ducks a lot. Redheads are just so striking.”
The painting of Canadian Geese Jim won with for the 2016-2017 stamp.
It took Jim about three weeks to complete the painting, but he had been making studies and thinking on the design for three months. He said he’d “worked up a bunch of flying redhead studies. I wasn’t quite getting what I wanted so I decided to paint them sitting on the water. But instead of calm water like everyone does I had them sitting on big water with a wave. In my mind, the hunters in the background are me, one of my brothers, and my dad. I like to think they’ve gotten their limit and are heading back home. The redheads are watching them leave and they’re safe.”
Jim paints for the love of the bird and the love of the sport. He says that his brothers and he, “have always loved the outdoors. And once we started hunting we got more into it. It doesn’t matter if you even shoot anything or not, just by being a hunter you get to see so amazing things.”
Congratulations from Mossy Oak, Jim!
For more information on Jim and his brothers' work or to buy a print or original piece of artwork, visit www.hautman.com
Mossy Oak launched our inaugural wild turkey stamp program in spring 2022. All proceeds of the stamp will go directly towards turkey conservation. To buy a stamp, visit here.