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A Hautman does it again Ė this time itís Bob!

A single drake pintail leisurly coasting on a misty olive green pond took honors in the 2000 Federal Duck Stamp Contest.

Robert Hautman, winner of the 1996 Duck Stamp Contest, brought the pintailís dream, and his own to the winnerís circle in 2000. His win this year, in his first year of re-eligibility, makes him only the second modern-day artist to accomplish that feat. Winners must sit out three years, and the only other artist to win in their first year of re-eligibility was Bobís younger brother Jim, who won the 1989, 1994 and 1998 contests. The 1998 win was Jimís first year of re-eligibility, and he came close in 1993, when he finished second.

To some casual viewers of the Duck Stamp Contest, and perhaps some artists, the Hautmanís may seem to be favorites. As a former judge, I can personally testify that the contest is pure, untainted, and without prejudice, positive or negative. The judges do not know who painted the pictures until after the contest, as artistsí names are on the reverse. Pictures submitted are never touched by judges, and remain in secure frames for the duration of the contest, except to be shown to the judges by the solicitor in front of an audience.

Judges cannot see the other judges when voting, so there is no influence from others. Votes are tallied in total once all judges have voted, leaving no room for second-guessing. Judges do not know the identity of the other judges are until the day of the contest, and in most cases, are not even acquainted with each other, as they are from varying fields of specialty and are geographically removed. It is a completely fair and impartial contest, regardless of how many times the Hautmans or anyone else wins, for that matter. I would suggest that skeptics attend a contest and witness the proceedings.

Hautmanís acrylic painting won with a final round vote of 24, besting Gerald Mobleyís 23. Mobley was a previous contest winner, taking honors in the 1984 contest. Joe Hautman, Bobís older brother and winner of the 1991 contest, finished third with a score of 20. A top score of 25 is possible in the final round of voting, which has been achieved just twice, by Jim Hautman. It seems the judges had preference for pintails on the water this year, as the top three finishers all have a very similar look.

Bob Hautman said he chose his winning design from among several sketches and told me he had worked on this one picture about two months, doing, redoing, and then doing again until he was 100% pleased with the result.

He said he painted the Northern pintail because of the speciesí beauty. "Theyíre just such striking birds, I thought this would be a nice one to do," Hautman said. "I think theyíre one of the most beautiful birds, and I thought it would be fun to paint."

When I spoke to Bob Hautman about his win, I asked why he painted the pintail on green water. He said the greenish water was how he had viewed the duck, trees overhanging the water, giving it a greenish reflection. He took a chance using green, as most artists used the earth tone colors in the duck. The green created a great contrast with the duck, and obviously caught the judges eyes also.

If youíre keeping score, Joe, Jim, and Bob Hautman account for six wins in the last eleven years, and they are still going strong!

The judges in this yearís contest were Ed Bierly, a three-time duck stamp contest winner and internationally known wildlife artist; Carol Baker-Jones, vice president of the board of directors of the Easton Maryland Waterfowl Festival; Charles Ekstrom, a stamp collector, exhibitor, and waterfowler; Charles Sauer, past executive director of the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association; and Jimmie Vizer, a nationally known decoy carver.

Congratulations to Bob Hautman for being the best of 316 artists in the 2000 contest. Not only is he a good artist, but collector-friendly, and appears at many stamp shows. He is one of the unselfish artists that graciously gives his time to support the program and conservation as well.

Eligible species for this yearís contest were the American green-winged teal, black duck, northern pintail, ruddy duck and American wigeon. Next year the only eligible species will be the black scoter; by the year 2002, all North American waterfowl species will have appeared on the Duck Stamp at least once.

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