Bob Hines is the only U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee ever to hold the title national wildlife artist. He had no formal training and no college degree, but he did have a keen eye and an uncanny ability to render what he saw with precision and beauty. A search of the Service’s Digital Image Library brings up multiple pages of his paintings and drawings.


Born in Ohio in 1912, Hines began drawing pictures to comfort his mother after the death of an infant daughter. His mother died young; his father encouraged Hines’ interests in animals and scouting. Eventually, Hines would illustrate three merit badge handbooks for the Boy Scouts. Long before that, he was a staff artist for what is now the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.


In 1946, his painting of five redhead ducks was selected for the Migratory Bird Hunting (Duck) Stamp. “If I had worn a vest, I’d have popped all the buttons,” said Hines, who never lost his feeling of ecstasy over the award. When he was offered a position in Washington, DC, with the Service in 1948, his wife stayed in Ohio to raise their children and Hines went to work for Rachel Carson—who had written the press release about the record–breaking sales of Hines’ winning stamp.


Hines and Carson were colleagues and friends for years; he illustrated her 1955 book The Edge of the Sea as well as countless Service publications. Hines also initiated a standardized process for selecting the annual Duck Stamp, turning it into an open competition with exacting standards. After retiring from the Service in 1981, he created the cover art for the first several issues of Bird Watcher’s Digest.


To mark the 100th anniversary of Hines’ birth this year, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center (www.rbhayes.org) in Fremont, OH, is exhibiting The Wildlife Art of Bob Hines. The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 14, was created with guidance from John D. Juriga, author of the new biography Bob Hines: National Wildlife Artist.


Former Service director Lynn Greenwalt, who frequently sought out the quiet of Hines’ studio, wrote the foreword to Juriga’s biography, noting that Hines’ “talent was formidable and his work legendary ... He lived a life of adventure and notable accomplishment, without fanfare and little fame.”