It was a good year for pintails at the annual Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, which took place at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on Sept. 15 and 16. Wildlife artist Chuck Black of Belgrade, Montana won the contest with an oil painting of a pintail floating among some reeds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Sunday.
The second and third place winners, Adam Grimm of Wallace, North Dakota (two-time winner, 2014-2015 and 1999-2000) and Gerald Mobley of Claremore, Oklahoma, also submitted oil paintings of pintails. These three painting stood out from a total of 199 submissions, 50 of which featured pintails. All the submissions entered in the contest can be viewed here.
This year’s all-female judging panel, the contest’s first, consisted of graphic designer Gail Anderson; art conservator MJ Davis; former National Wild Turkey Federation CEO Rebecca Humphries; Outdoor Afro founder Rue Mapp; Ducks Unlimited chief conservation officer Dr. Karen Waldrop; and alternate judge Jennifer Scully, nature programs manager for Black Hill Regional Park in Montgomery County, Maryland. The judges took two days to review the field of submissions. They narrowed the selection down to a final round of 24 submissions before choosing Black’s painting as the winner.
“The competition was very exciting. The artwork was beautiful,” Davis, who has done restoration work on over 400 old prints of Duck Stamp artwork from years past, tells Outdoor Life. “When it came down to the final 24, it was not easy, but they gave us a good set of criteria to work from. And what a really exciting group of accomplished women.”
Black’s painting will decorate the 2024-2025 Duck Stamp, formally known as the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. It will go on sale for $25 in June 2024, 90 years after Jay N. “Ding” Darling designed the first stamp in 1934. Darling was also the inspiration for this year’s contest location; Drake University houses the Jay N. Darling Legacy Institute, which is home to memorabilia and artifacts from his creation of the first Duck Stamp. The inaugural artwork, which more closely resembled an old postage stamp than the modern full-color paintings, depicted two mallards in blue ink. Since its origin, the Duck Stamp has raised $1.2 billion for wildlife habitat, conserving over 6 million acres in the process. That’s no small feat for one small sticker.
“Thank you to all who have supported my work over the years and who have been sending their congrats. Still doesn’t feel real,” Black wrote in a Facebook post announcing his win. “Thank you to the people at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the judges who thought my painting was worthy of this stamp, and everyone who keeps this incredible program going. I feel so blessed. There was a lot of amazing work by many other artists and I want to congratulate them as well. I’m just so grateful to be a part of this.”