As has become customary, a Hautman won the federal duck stamp contest Saturday.
But for a while, it appeared unclear even to the competition’s sponsor, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, exactly whom among the world’s most famous wildlife art-painting family won the top honor — Jim Hautman or his brother, Bob.
All that was certain was that brother Joe hadn’t nabbed the top spot among 153 entries. He won in 2015, and thus was disqualified this year.
“At first the Fish and Wildlife Service said Bob had won,” said Jim, who lives in Chaska. In fact, Bob placed third, and Jim was the winner.
Painted in acrylics, Jim Hautman’s rendition of three flying Canada geese bathed in sunset’s even glow was a somewhat risky entry: The contest most often honors designs featuring a lone duck or goose.
“Two years ago I did two studies of the painting I submitted to that year’s contest,” Jim said. “One had two geese in it and one had three. I liked the one with three better. But I ended up painting the two geese. It seemed like a safer bet.”
An admitted procrastinator who often waits until the last minute to paint a contest entry, Jim dusted off his three-goose study for this year’s competition.
“I painted four days and nights to get it done on time,” he said.
Brother Bob, meanwhile, placed third with a painting of two Canada geese.
Eligible species for this year’s competition were the Canada goose, brant, northern shoveler, red-breasted merganser and Steller’s eider.
Collectively, the Hautmans have won the federal duck stamp contest 12 times, a familial record unlikely ever to be matched. Jim and Joe each have prevailed five times; Bob, twice.
The Hautmans live and paint separately in home studios in the greater metro. But they hunt together. Tuesday, they left for Montana, where in September each year they camp in the mountains and hunt elk with their bows.
Information about purchasing the Hautmans’ paintings, and about their commission work, is online at www.hautman.com.