A real duck dynasty: Minnesota brothers dominate stamp contest

Jim, Joe and Bob Hautman, left to right
The Hautman brothers of Minnesota -- left to right Jim (Chaska), Joe (Plymouth) and Bob (Delano) have won 11 of the past 27 Federal Duck Stamp contests between them.
Tom Weber | MPR News

Updated: Sept. 12, 6:45 a.m. | Posted: Sept. 9, 3:08 p.m.

Call them the New York Yankees of the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest.

Minnesota brothers Joe, Bob and Jim Hautman have a long, winning history in the prestigious federal stamp art competition. Collectively, they've won 11 of the past 27 contests.

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Last year, they made history by sweeping first, second and third place.

They're so big in the duck stamp world they even made it into the movie "Fargo." (By the way, they actually also knew the Coen brothers — they grew up a few doors away from the filmmakers in St. Louis Park.)

There's a scene at the end of the movie when Marge Gunderson crawls into bed with her husband Norm, who is watching TV. He shares his big news about his artwork appearing on the 3-cent stamp.

But he adds, "Hautman's blue-winged teal got the 29-cent."

One of the brothers could win the duck stamp contest again this year.

The contest, which selects the art that will appear on next year's duck stamp, is part of a federal program that raises millions of dollars for conservation efforts. The 2016 winner will be announced Saturday.

Joe Hautman, of Plymouth, took the top prize last year with his painting of trumpeter swans in flight. It was his fifth win, making him one of the two winningest duck stamp artists.

Since he's the 2015 winner, he is ineligible to compete this year, but Jim Hautman (a four-time winner from Chaska) and Bob Hautman (two wins, from Delano) have entries.

Because the Hautmans are so dominant, "there are conspiracy theorists out there," Joe Hautman told MPR News' Tom Weber.

"The first time that I won, because you can't enter the year after you win for two years, Jim had won so he wasn't in the contest and nobody knew about me. ... So when I won, a lot of people thought that Jim had actually painted the painting," he said.

"They were scrambling around asking artists, 'Could Jim have painted this?'" he added. "And fortunately, they had enough of an eye to see it wasn't good enough to be Jim."

Update: It's a back-to-back Hautman win. Jim Hautman notched his fifth victory over the weekend with his acrylic painting of Canada geese.

Bob Hautman placed third with his acrylic painting of a pair of Canada geese.

For the full interview with the Hautmans on their duck dynasty, click on the audio player above.