For Stephen Hamrick, the walleye has been elusive.

Not to catch. To paint properly.

The 57-year-old Hamrick, of Lakeville, has won four of five Minnesota state wildlife stamp contests. He won his fourth state trout stamp contest this week with a painting of a brook trout, putting him in exclusive company. No other artist has won the trout stamp contest more than twice in the 34-year history of the competition.

Hamrick also has won the state duck and pheasant contests once each and the state turkey stamp contest twice. “But I can’t get the dang walleye stamp,” he said. “I was second the last two years.”

Artist John House of Melby, Minn., completed the “Royal Slam” in 2011 when he was selected winner of the walleye contest, the only state stamp contest he hadn’t won.

Hamrick, an avid angler, will keep trying.

“I’d like to close it out,” he said.

The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner, but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce it.

Catch and release loon

Conservation officer Greg Oldakowski of Wadena received calls about a loon on a local lake entangled in fishing line and dragging a large bobber. He and a lakeshore resident tried unsuccessfully to net the loon. Then they used a fishing rod and spoon to snag the line, then pulled the loon into the boat. A hook was removed from the bird’s cheek, the loon was checked for injuries and released.

Calls from the wild

I recently wrote about the increase of emergency calls from the BWCA, and last week conservation officer Mark Fredin of Aurora responded to a call about a youth missing from a kayak in the million-acre wilderness. A father and son were camping and the father sent a text to his wife saying he couldn’t find their son. He then put his phone away, and the wife, so concerned something had happened, contacted law enforcement officials. Eventually officials contacted the father, who explained his message was a poor attempt at humor.

Boat sales up

About 167,000 new powerboats and sailboats were sold in 2013, a 2.2 percent increase over 2012 and another sign that the boating industry and national economy is rebounding. Minnesota was No. 5 in sales of boats, motors, trailers and accessories, at $554 million, basically the same as 2012, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

The association said nearly 37 percent of U.S. adults — 88 million — boated at least once in 2013, the second highest percentage on record. Fishing was the most popular activity for boaters, with nearly 60 percent of them wetting a line.