BALTIMORE, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A Maryland farmer says winning the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp contest with a painting of a wigeon was a major relief, following some close calls in the past.
Robert Bealle, 57, who came as close as second place in the competition 26 years ago, topped 223 other wildlife artists to win the annual contest at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge, The Baltimore Sun said Sunday.
"I've had a gorilla on my back for 26 years," Bealle said. "I've been top 20 so many times ... I felt this year if I didn't win it, I was never going to win it."
Bealle's winning entry in Saturday's contest was an oil-on-Masonite painting of a wigeon, a kind of dabbling duck. For winning the event, Bealle's work will be featured on the $15 stamp.
The Sun said migratory bird hunters and collectors purchase the unique stamp, allowing the federal government to collect revenue that is used to acquire acres of wetland habitat.
More than 6 million acres of the lands have been purchased since the stamp was created in 1934.