LAKEVILLE, Minn. -- Steve Hamrick has plenty of wildlife trophies hanging on his wall, but it's not what you think. The trophies are paintings, winning entry paintings, into Minnesota's Fishing and Hunting Habitat Stamp contests.
"I've won eight stamps in Minnesota," says Hamrick.
The self-taught artist has been painting, sculpting and carving wildlife since 1981
"Luckily, I have a supportive wife who went along with this for all these years," he says.
Easy to be supportive when you've had the kind of success that Steve has had. His artwork has graced everything from wine bottles to walls of collectors, to those fishing and hunting habitat stamps. The incredible run all started with a painting of a brown trout.
"That's a brown trout for the trout stamp in 1986," Steve says as he points to the wall.
And he's done it again, earning his fourth salmon and trout stamp, this time for 2015 with an entry of a gorgeous brook trout.
"This one went pretty well, I was pretty happy with it so yeah, I thought I had a chance," he says.
He's earned the confidence. Steve is, after all, the reining turkey stamp artist of 2014. He's picked up wins in virtually every category. Two in turkey, a duck, a pheasant and the four trout winners make eight.
"The only one I don't have yet is the walleye stamp. I was second in that the last two years," he says.
Ah, the elusive walleye. But, then this wouldn't be a classic Minnesota fish tale without it.
"The fish that got away, " he laughs.
What does Steve get for having his artwork chosen? Nothing but the honor. He even has to buy his own stamps, but he can sell prints of his work.
Check out his gallery at www.sphamrick.com