THE WILD DUCK CHASE is the basis for “The Million Dollar Duck,” a documentary feature film, directed by Brian Golden Davis and written by Martin J. Smith, premiering at The Slamdance Film Festival in January 2016. The book takes readers into the peculiar world of competitive duck painting as it played out during the 2010 Federal Duck Stamp Contest-the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. Since 1934, the duck stamp, which is bought annually by hunters to certify their hunting license, has generated more than $750 million, and 98 cents of each collected dollar has been used to help purchase or lease 5.3 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the United States.
As Martin J. Smith chronicles in his revealing narrative, within the microcosm of the duck stamp contest are intense ideological and cultural clashes between the mostly rural hunters who buy the stamps and the mostly suburban and urban birders and conservationists who decry the hunting of waterfowl. The competition also fuels dynamic tensions between competitors and judges, and among the invariably ambitious, sometimes obsessive and eccentric artistsincluding Minnesota's three fabled Hautman brothers, the "New York Yankees" of competitive duck painting. Martin Smith takes readers down an arcane and uniquely American rabbit hole into a wonderland of talent, ego, art, controversy, scandal, big money, and migratory waterfowl.
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About the Author
Martin J. Smith is editor in chief of the monthly Orange Coast magazine and the author of three crime novels and several nonfiction books, including Oops: 20 Life Lessons from the Fiascoes That Shaped America and Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore That Shaped Modern America (both with coauthor Patrick J. Kiger). Smith lives in Southern California.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Hunters Gather 4
Chapter 2 The First Battle of Specklebelly 19
Chapter 3 Guns, Greed, and the Grand Idea 35
Chapter 4 Round One 58
Chapter 5 The Second Battle of Specklebelly 79
Chapter 6 The Annual Ordeal of Artistic Choices 99
Chapter 7 The Power of the Prize 116
Chapter 8 Round Two 129
Chapter 9 What Is Art, Anyway? 146
Chapter 10 Round Three 168
Chapter 11 The Looming Threats 177
Chapter 12 The Hunter-Hugger Schism 196
Chapter 13 Judgment Day: The Tiebreak Round 205
Chapter 14 Where the Wild Things Are 215
Appendix A How to Buy a Duck Stamp 229
Appendix B The Federal Duck Stamp Artists 231
Appendix C The Imitators 235
List of Illustrations 253