Wildlife contest winners announced

Marvelous artwork has been crafted about Wisconsin's birds

A Greenfield, Wis., artist took first place in the 2020 wild turkey and pheasant stamp contests while an Arbor Vitae, Wis., artist took first place in the 2020 waterfowl stamp contest.

The Department of Natural Resources received a total of 28 pieces of artwork from 16 different wildlife artists for the 2020 Wisconsin wild turkey, pheasant and waterfowl stamp design contest. Contest judging took place July 24 at the Natural Resources Building in Madison. The judges for the 2020 Wisconsin Wildlife Stamp Art Contest were Jeff Maletzke from Ducks Unlimited, Sadie Odell from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Andy Opichka from National Wild Turkey Federation and Gretchen Oleson from Pheasants Forever.

Wild Turkey Stamp

Brian Kuether of Greenfield, WI, submitted winning artwork for the 2020 turkey stamp

Brian Kuether won the 2020 Wisconsin wild turkey stamp contest with a painting of a gobbler and hen along a field. He has been painting most of his life, having started in the fourth grade. Kuether's grandmother was a wildlife artist and taught him how to paint starting with watercolors, which sparked a life-long passion. Kuether went on to pursue a degree in the arts with an emphasis in painting and has been painting professionally in different capacities his entire adult life. From researching and sketching to designing and painting, Kuether said it can take up to 200 hours to complete one of his wildlife paintings. He explained that the most time-consuming parts include researching, observing the animals in their natural state, and laying out the design of his pieces. The hours spent with a brush in hand taking the least amount of time. Kuether loves spending time in the outdoors, and he has plans to visit Yellowstone National Park this year to research and gain inspiration for future paintings.

Second place in the wild turkey stamp contest went to Betty Casper of Almond, who created a beautiful depiction of a gobbler. Jon Rickaby of Suamico, a veteran of the wildlife stamp contest, won third for his painting of a tom and hen walking together through the forest.

All turkey hunters are required to purchase the $5.25 Wild Turkey Stamp to hunt turkeys in Wisconsin legally. Proceeds from stamp sales provide vital support for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin and bring in over $775,000 annually for habitat management and restoration projects, education, research, equipment purchases and management of the wild turkey program.

Pheasant Stamp

Kuether also won the 2020 pheasant stamp design with a striking rendition of a hen and rooster pheasant hiding in the grass.

Second place went to Robert Metropulos of Arbor Vitae, for his painting of a hen and rooster pheasant in a snow-covered field. Third place went to Jon Rickaby for his painting of a pair of pheasants with a barn on the horizon.

A $10 Pheasant Stamp is required to hunt pheasants in the state of Wisconsin. Proceeds bring in approximately $500,000 annually for the development, management, conservation and maintenance of wild pheasants and their habitat in Wisconsin. Stamp dollars also support the state game farm that raises pheasants for stocking efforts on Wisconsin's public hunting grounds.

Waterfowl Stamp

Robert Metropulos of Arbor Vitae, submitted winning artwork for the 2020 waterfowl stamp.

Robert Metropulos of Arbor Vitae won the 2020 Wisconsin waterfowl stamp contest. He learned how to paint from his mother, who was an artist herself. Growing up, Metropulos's mother used drawings and pictures as teaching tools. He felts this helped him to overcome dyslexia, a diagnosis he received later when he was in college. Metropulos said that he does not see dyslexia as a disability but instead feels it has helped him to become an even better painter. Metropulos has been painting since he was in high school and has owned an art gallery in northern Wisconsin for over 39 years. His advice to new painters is to find what makes you happy in life and go from there. "Happiness," he said, "is the greatest inspiration." In his free time, he enjoys gardening, disc golfing and photography.

Second place went to Keith Raddatz of Watertown, for his painting of a gadwall in fall. Third place went to Brian Kuether of Greenfield, for his painting of a northern shoveler.

Duck and goose hunters are required to purchase the $7 Wisconsin Waterfowl Stamp in order to hunt waterfowl in the state. Revenue from these sales generates an estimated $350,000 for managing, restoring and protecting habitat in Wisconsin and Canada for waterfowl and other wetland-associated species.

Please note that an electronic "stamp approval" is printed on the licenses of wild turkey, pheasant and waterfowl hunters at the time of purchase. Hunters will not receive an actual stamp unless they request it. To obtain a physical copy of a stamp, visit the Wildlife and Fish Collector Stamp webpage or go to any DNR Service Center.

For more information regarding Wisconsin's wildlife stamps, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "wildlife stamps."