Outdoors

Bruce Gordon loves sharing his outdoor art

Outdoors: His paintings will be featured on DNR 'hard card' licenses

This painting by Grundy Center wildlife artist Bruce Gordon is featured on the new hard card fishing licenses made available for the first time this year by the Department of Natural Resources. (DNR)
This painting by Grundy Center wildlife artist Bruce Gordon is featured on the new hard card fishing licenses made available for the first time this year by the Department of Natural Resources. (DNR)
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Iowa wildlife artist Bruce Gordon said he is “honored and humbled” to have his paintings featured on the state’s new collectible “hard card” hunting and fishing licenses.

“I love God’s creation. I enjoy it every chance I get, and I love sharing it with others through my paintings,” said Gordon, 77, of Grundy Center, a lifelong artist and outdoors enthusiast.

Gordon, a retired art teacher, has several dozen prints of his fish and wildlife paintings in production.

At the request of the Department of Natural Resources, he submitted several images from which two — a largemouth bass and a pheasant — were selected for the first edition of the hard card licenses.

“It is a neat opportunity to showcase Bruce’s wildlife art,” said Alex Cross, DNR customer service and licensing supervisor.

Cross said the durable and attractive hard cards cost $5 with the proceeds to be used to promote conservation in Iowa. The customer’s purchased licenses for the year will be printed on the back of the card.

New hard card designs, by artists invited to participate, will be unveiled each year, he said.

Several other states — including Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia — have recently introduced hard card hunting and fishing licenses.

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Gordon grew up in the little Mitchell County town of Carpenter near Deer Creek and the upper Cedar River.

“We used to spend every waking hour along those streams or in the woods,” he said. “That’s where I fell in love with nature and the outdoors.”

Gordon said he cut his teeth on smallmouth bass and still returns often to the area to pursue his favorite quarry.

Mitchell County was a pheasant haven in the 1950s when he and his brother, both too young to carry a gun, performed bird dog duties for hunting parties organized by their dad.

“We couldn’t smell them, but we could flush and retrieve them,” he said.

While Gordon still hunts pheasants, his passions now include spring turkeys and bow hunting deer. At age 77, he still spends many autumn days in a tree stand.

Just as age has not slowed his hunting and fishing pursuits, Gordon said he is completing more paintings than ever since he retired after 32 years teaching art at Grundy Center Community Schools.

“The last decade has been my most productive period as an artist,” he said.

Gordon said the pheasant painting selected for the hard card was his first published work, put into print in 1986.

To inform the bass image featured on the new hard card, Gordon did some pond diving to observe the appearance of lily pads from beneath the surface of the water.

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Gordon’s designs were featured on Iowa DNR trout stamps in 2014 and 2015. More of his works can be viewed at www.artistbynature.net

Customers can buy the hard card at any vendor that sells hunting and fishing licenses, or they can go directly to the new www.GoOutdoorsIowa.com online hunting and fishing licensing system.

The hard card will be mailed to the license holder and should arrive in five to seven days. Customers will get a paper printout of their licenses so they can hunt or fish immediately after the purchase. Customers with lifetime licenses can pay the $5 fee for the hard card and have their license information printed on it and mailed to them.

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