By Gary Koehler
One of the noblest endeavors a waterfowl hunter can undertake is to fuel the interest of youngsters in the outdoors. Scot Storm, DU's 2014 Artist of the Year
, has done his part, and then some.
For the past several years, Storm and his brother have mentored a number of young hunters
by coordinating an annual waterfowl hunting trip to North Dakota
. These kids and others like them represent the future of our sport as well as the future of waterfowl and wetlands conservation
"I guess it started when my son, Logan, got big enough to hold a shotgun," Storm says. "He was involved in elementary school sports, and so were his friends. Sports these days require a lot of time, with practices during the week and games on weekends. My brother and I were concerned that spending all that time with team sports would take away opportunities for these kids to get outdoors."
To make sure the boys didn't miss out on waterfowling, Storm and his brother decided to take them on a big-time duck and goose safari in North Dakota. The hunting can be terrific, but these outings involve much more than shooting.
"We sit there and identify the ducks
and make sure the boys know what's coming in," Storm says. "This year we had a huge flock of mallards, 500 to a thousand, and not a shot was fired. Everyone sat and watched the birds come in. I asked the boys why they didn't shoot. Every one of them said they had never seen anything like it, that it was beautiful. They had an appreciation for what they had just seen."
Tranquil Waters, by Scot Storm, will be available at DU fundraising events nationwide in 2014.
Storm's own art is filled with an appreciation of the birds he paints and the beauty of their natural habitats
. In Tranquil Waters, a gorgeous painting of three wood ducks, the warm, subtle background enhances the birds' natural good looks. The painting took top honors in this year's DU art contest.
"That painting actually came from a pond on our homestead," Storm says. "I spend a lot of time out there taking photographs with my friend Tom Martin, especially in the spring. We had some cool morning sun coming through, which created the glow reflecting off the ducks."
Storm spends countless hours outdoors. He spends a week each spring in South Dakota
during the waterfowl migration. His travels can take him to any number of diverse locales, especially when a client commissions him to paint a particular scene. Upcoming is a visit to Alaska
"It's never enough," Storm says of his research and photography sessions. "My time in the field varies from year to year. But I always spend quite a bit of time in the blind."
Storm, who lives in Freeport, Minnesota
, says his home-state roots are a big plus. "The thing about living here is that Minnesota has a little bit of everything—ducks, geese, pheasants, white-tailed deer, and more," Storm says. "That provides me an opportunity to watch and photograph a variety of wildlife. And that keeps me fresh."
Storm has been a full-time wildlife artist since 1999, when he walked away from a career in architecture to concentrate on his passion. He won the 2004–2005 Federal Duck Stamp
Contest and was DU Artist of the Year in 2005. His work has since appeared on state duck and pheasant stamps from North Carolina
. He is among 31 artists to have been chosen as DU Artist of the Year since the program was introduced in 1972.
"I have no regrets about leaving architecture and pursuing my art," Storm says. "I've had so many good experiences and have met so many interesting people from coast to coast. And my art, which is my job, allows me to be outdoors. You can usually find me down in the swamp."