Duck stamp competition coming to Ohio
It is a feather in Ohio’s waterfowling cap that the 2013 competition for the federal duck stamp art – this for the 2014-15 stamp – will be held at Maumee Bay State Park and Conference Center, just east of Toledo, on Sept. 27 and 28.
The recently announced decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to hold the competition here, amid the western Lake Erie marshlands that are the heart of the state’s waterfowling heritage, can be attributed in no small way to the late Bob Hines.
Hines, born in Columbus and raised in Fremont in Sandusky County, spent his youth hunting, fishing, camping, learning taxidermy, and sketching and drawing along the Sandusky River and on Sandusky Bay.
He became the only official U.S. Government waterfowl artist ever, this in the 1940s into the 1970s. In the 1930s he worked as an artist for what now is the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Among many other waterfowl and wildlife art accomplishments, Hines designed the 1947 federal duck stamp and compiled a pocket duck identification guide, “Ducks at a Distance,” more than two millions copies of which have been printed. He also illustrated more than 50 books, including some by the iconic Rachel Carson.
The Hayes Presidential Center at Fremont held a special exhibit on Hines last year, this in conjunction with the release of a biography on him by author John Juriga. Nan Card, a Hayes Center spokesman, said that the Hines show was one of its most popular ever and drew many first-time visitors.
Along with the fine Maumee Bay State Park lodge, conference center, and nature center – the latter with a 10,000-foot boardwalk into the lakeshore marshes – this part of northwest Ohio is ideally situated to host the prestigious waterfowl art competition.
It is surrounded by state wildlife area marshes, such as the Mallard Club and Metzger Marsh, and just down State Rt. 2 is the sprawling Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, with its fine new visitor center, the design of which was patterned after a historic duck club on the site. And just next door to the refuge is the state’s fine Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area with its Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center, an excellent complement to the Ottawa refuge center, and the vest-pocket Black Swamp Bird Observatory and nature center.
The eligible species for the 2014-15 stamp are mallard, canvasback, gadwall, cinnamon teal, and blue-winged teal. The 2013-14 stamp, designed by Californian Robert Steiner, is of a common goldeneye drake and will go on sale in late June.
All in all, hosting the federal stamp-judging will be a big-time event for Ohio and its waterfowling community. It also is a golden opportunity to showcase these valuable if slowly disappearing Buckeye State wetlands and drive home the need to conserve what is left.