"I got mine. Get yours today."
That's what famed angler Al Lindner says about Minnesota's 2010 walleye stamp in an ad in the back of the 2010 Minnesota Fishing Regulations.
The walleye stamp, initiated in 2009, is the most recent addition to Minnesota's collection of fish and wildlife habitat stamps. The others are for waterfowl, pheasant, trout/salmon and wild turkey. The $5 walleye stamp is the only one that is a voluntary purchase. In other words, it is not required for walleye anglers, but the accumulated funds are dedicated toward walleye stocking.
The oldest Minnesota habitat stamp is for waterfowl. In 1977 the DNR commissioned famed Minnesota wildlife artist David Maass to paint it. It portrays three mallards flushing from a cattail marsh. The cost was $3. The stamp is required by all Minnesota waterfowl hunters between the ages of 18 and 64, along with a small game license. In 1977 about 127,000 of them were sold.
The 2010 waterfowl stamp sells for $7.50 and features a drake wood duck by artist Mark Kness of Albert Lea. According to the DNR, yearly sales garner between $500,000 and $800,000, money used for habitat projects in wildlife-management areas and other wetlands locations.
It's no secret Minnesota has a flock of talented wildlife artists -- the Hautman brothers, Scot Storm, Kevin Daniel, just to name a few -- and the DNR puts that talent to good use. An expert panel selects each year's stamp from the many entries it receives.
Contrary to popular belief, contest winners are not paid by the DNR for their work. The artists retain all rights to the paintings. Money generated by winning entries generally comes from the sale of limited edition prints.
Next was the pheasant stamp. In 1983, at the urging of hunters and the newly founded conservation group Pheasants Forever, Gov. Rudy Perpich signed it into legislation at the initial Pheasants Forever banquet.
Daniel Smith won the original pheasant stamp contest with a painting of a pheasant rooster and hen in frosty surroundings. The price of the stamp was $5. Like the waterfowl stamp, it is required by all pheasant hunters between the ages of 18 and 64.
David Chapman of Minnetonka prevailed in the 2010 pheasant stamp contest with his depiction of a rooster pheasant in a snowy cornfield. The price is $7.50. Since 1983 pheasant stamp sales have produced roughly $15 million for pheasant habitat projects.
The Minnesota trout/salmon stamp was initiated in 1982. Terry Redlin, then from Hastings, won the contest with a painting of a rainbow trout.
The 2010 trout/salmon stamp contest was won by Richard Goodkind of St. Louis Park. It shows a colorful brook trout rising for a mayfly. The price is $10 and the stamp is required by anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 when fishing designated trout waters. Other rules apply so check the 2010 regulations.
Next was the wild turkey stamp. In 1997 Jim Hautman of Plymouth, one of three nationally known artist brothers, won the first contest. The 2011 stamp winner is Micah Hanson of Dakota. Unlike the other stamps, the $5 turkey stamp is included with the price of a license.
Finally, the walleye stamp. Nick Reitzel of Karlstad won the first walleye stamp contest in 2009. The current winner is Tim Turenne of Richfield. As noted earlier, the walleye sells for $5 and is not required.
In all cases, the prices I've listed are for license validation only. The customer does not actually get the stamp. Instead the stamp purchase is simply noted on the license. However, for an additional $2 the stamp will be mailed to the buyer. Who should buy the Minnesota fish and wildlife habitat stamps? Hunters and anglers, of course, but collectors or anyone with an eye or ear toward the outdoors should also consider obtaining them. The birder who tromps the State Wildlife Management Area with binoculars in hand, and others who care about wildlife can help protect habitat by purchasing stamps. Improved habitat benefits both game and non-game species.
I'm proud to say I have the entire series of the Minnesota waterfowl and pheasant stamps. Framed, the collections make a colorful and interesting display.
The stamps make great gifts for children, too. Buy them a stamp so they can start a collection starting with their first year of hunting or angling.
So be like Al Lindner: Buy a habitat stamp. And and start your collection today.
Bill Marchel, an outdoors columnist and photographer, lives near Brainerd.