Two mallards, seen just above a sheet of wind-ruffled water dotted with cattails, is a beautiful sight to hunters and birders. The in-flight moment, dramatically rendered by an artist from Delano, Minn., is the winner of the 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest.
Bob Hautman's acrylic painting of a pair of mallards will be made into the 2018-19 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or duck stamp, which will go on sale in June 2018.
This is Hautman's third contest win. His art previously appeared on the 1997-98 and 2001-02 stamps.
Hautman's brothers, Jim and Joe, each have won the contest five times.
Greg Sheehan, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announced Hautman's win Saturday during the annual contest at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
"He is part of a collection of talented wildlife artists whose work has helped conserve habitat not just for waterfowl, but for a vast diversity of wildlife," Sheehan said.
Of 215 entries in this year's competition, 12 made it to the final round of Saturday's judging. Eligible species were the mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, blue-winged teal and harlequin duck.
Greg Alexander of Ashland, Wis., placed second with his painting of a cinnamon teal. Christine Clayton of Sidney, Ohio, took third place with her oil painting of a blue-winged teal.
Ninety-eight percent of money made from sales of the duck stamp goes to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports the protection of migratory bird habitat nationwide.
A gallery of this year's contest entries is at: tinyurl.com/yaovju6n.