Deer Trails: State DNR chief warden Schaller’s last hunt

By JERRY DAVIS

There seems to be an incongruity between Wisconsin’s Law Enforcement Bureau and the nine-day, gun deer season.
Or is there?
Many DNR wardens are attracted to law enforcement because they love to recreate in the out-of-doors. They love to fish, hunt, gather from the forests and much more. But they love just as much to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources.
So they chose a career that involved, in part, protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources and then find themselves having fewer moments to hunt deer during November.
“Before becoming a warden, I was an avid deer hunter, archery and gun, but that didn’t continue, at least not directly after I left the Bangor area for stations in Racine, Trempealeau, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh and finally in Madison, and then accepted the position of Chief Warden,” 31-year law enforcement officer Todd Schaller (pictured) said. “This will be my last deer season as a warden.”
Schaller quickly moved past the hunting part of deer season, but lived within it because he was with people who were recreating as he once did.  
“I was constantly talking to people who had the same interest. I lived deer hunting vicariously through them,” he said.
When hunting deer and being with family during the season was no longer feasible, Schaller recalls calling his father every opening morning and evening to experience some camaraderie he had before becoming a warden.
Schaller has seen many changes in deer populations, deer hunting styles and the evolution of a trophy passion and in some cases a lessening of hunting for sustainability.
“One of my favorite deer season stories while in Racine County was the conviction of an individual who had taken deer illegally and was about to have his license revoked,” Schaller recalled. “The man said he would rather serve time in jail than have his deer hunting privileges revoked. The judge listened and then agreed, sentencing the man to a jail term during the deer season, but didn’t revoke his license.”
Looking ahead toward retirement, Schaller plans to return to a deer stand, but mainly for the chance to experience deer seasons with relatives.
“It’s more about connecting with siblings, than it is about getting a deer,” he said. “There never was pressure to get a deer, but to hunt with family.”

Season Snippet: There was a record 699,275 gun deer licenses sold in 1990.

Jerry Davis writes daily DeerTrails 11 times during the nine-day, gun deer season. This is the last column. You may contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112.