Duck Stamp Exhibition Coming To Stark Museum Of Art

The Stark Museum of Art is bringing the great outdoors inside with Conservation Art: Federal Duck Stamps & Prints.

The exhibition opens July 13  and continues through January 4, 2020. This exhibition celebrates the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, popularly known as the Duck Stamp.

A set of stamps and prints, from the beginning in 1934-1935 through 2000-2001, is on view. In addition to viewing the stamps and prints, visitors can go on a virtual Duck Hunt and enjoy other activities.

Started in 1934, the Federal Duck Stamp program links hunting with conservation. Sales of stamps support wildlife habitat. Choosing artists to design the stamps added visual drama. Artists’ prints increased the impact of the program.

With this exhibition, the Stark Museum of Art traces the history of the Federal Duck Stamp. The United States government created the stamp to address a problem. In the 1930s, the numbers of ducks and geese had fallen to dangerously low levels.

Loss of habitat and over-hunting contributed to the decline. Hunters and conservationists sought remedies. To raise funds for waterfowl habitat, the government required hunters to buy a Migratory Bird stamp. The U.S. uses the revenue to purchase and maintain wildlife refuges.

Every year the government selects an artist to create the image and issues a new stamp. They depict ducks, geese, and swans. The beauty of the stamps has inspired collecting. It has also prompted the artists to make prints from their stamp art.

The exhibition begins with the 1934-35 Stamp and its accompanying print by Jay N. “Ding” Darling. Darling was a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist, a hunter, and a conservationist.

Franklin Roosevelt appointed him as Chief of the Biological Survey. Darling drew two mallards flying onto the water for the first stamp, and then made an etching based on his design.

The exhibition includes etchings, lithographs, and photolithographs by fifty-two artists, including Frank W. Benson, Maynard Reece, and the Hautman brothers.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to view a digital exhibit of the 2018-19 Federal Junior Duck Stamp in Texas winners. The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design program began in 1993. Each state holds a contest.

A best of show for the state is selected. These works advance to the national contest. The digital exhibit features the top twelve Texas artists in Kindergarten through twelfth grades in the 2018-19 contest. It is presented in cooperation with the Federal Junior Duck Stamp in Texas program.

The exhibition includes a number of hands-on learning opportunities. The interactives include viewing recent years’ duck stamps up closely using magnifying tools, drawing and displaying a duck stamp, and playing the Nintendo Entertainment System pop culture classic Duck Hunt.

Adjacent to the main exhibition will be Waterfowl Art with the flourishing images of ducks and geese as seen in Steuben glass, Limoges plates, Boehm porcelain, and other forms.

An Opening Reception and Insights Lecture will be held 2-4 p.m. Sat. July 13. at the Stark Museum of Art.

Celeste Rickert, a 2018 Federal Duck Stamp Finalist from Katy, TX, will speak on her experience as an artist participating in the Federal Duck Stamp competition.

Light refreshments will be served following the talk. The Opening Reception and Insights Lecture are open to the public.

Admission is free.

(Source: Stark Cultural Venues)

In Search Of Whitetail-Mule Deer Hybrids

So, what happens when whitetail and mule deer meet up?

It’s a question I have long been intrigued with since I heard stories of mysterious whitetail/mule deer hybrids at a hunting camp in my home state of Texas.

While on a mission to photograph Merriam’s turkey in Colorado for my Turkey Revolution quest two weeks ago my wife Lisa and I stopped at a beautiful location to look for mule deer.

We found a big bachelor group with some large males feeding in a meadow.

And then from the distance came more deer.

I assumed they were muleys too but after glassing, I realized they were whitetail.

Two whitetail bucks join up with mule deer in June 2019 in Colorado. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

Eventually, they made their way to the mule deer. Most passed by but a couple merged with them and began to feed. This is what you see in the included photo.

It was interesting to see this interaction.

I plan on returning to this location in the fall when the rut is on and see what type of activity occurs. Bucks could get along now but how about when their antlers are hard and testosterone is jacked up?

The whitetail will be fighting one another and the muleys battling it out as well. But will they fight one another?

Who will win?

Even more intriguing is the possibility of whitetail and mule deer mating.

Longstanding studies by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials show some interesting dynamics including hybridization.

“Where mule deer and white-tailed deer coexist, interbreeding does occur. The long-term effects are unknown, and for most areas, the extent of hybridization is not known. The highest incidence of hybridization in the Trans-Pecos occurs in the eastern part of the region where high populations of mule deer and white-tailed deer coexist. It has been estimated that up to 15 percent of deer may be hybrids where both species occupy the same range,” TPWD reported.

“DNA sequencing techniques were used to determine the extent of hybridization in the Panhandle (Donley County) where the ranges of both species overlap. Results indicated a hybridization frequency of eight percent. ”

TPWD reported antler characteristics, tail coloration, and ear length are not reliable in recognizing hybrids.

They said hybrids can be identified by the length of the metatarsal gland that is located on the outside of the rear leg between the hock and the hoof. It typically will measure about 3 /4 inch long in whitetail and about 4 inches long in mule deer.”

“The metatarsal gland of hybrids is intermediate in length, measuring about two inches long. It has been theorized that occurrences of hybridization are initiated by white-tailed bucks, but interbreeding also can occur between mule deer bucks and white-tailed does. Hybrids appear to have at least a limited degree of fertility. Hybridization is a concern to managers who see it as a threat to their mule deer herd.:

Whitetail numbers have reached historic highs in most of their range and are healthy virtually everywhere whereas mule deer are on the decline in many areas.

I will have more on the mule deer decline soon as well as hybridization.

For now, I am seeking photos of whitetail/mule deer hybrids.

If you have seen or shot any or deer you suspect might be hybrids send photos to chester@chestermoore.com.

I believe this is a topic that needs more coverage and look forward to seeing what other outdoors lovers are seeing out there.

Chester Moore, Jr.