A career as a game warden has many rewards.
After nearly 40 years patrolling Montana’s outdoors, this hunting season is Bill Koppen’s last as a game warden.
“It’s been a great career, a great job. A lot of people want to be a game warden, especially in Montana,” Koppen said. “And I just was fortunate to be able to do that.
Whether patrolling the backcountry or running a decoy operation, the variety of the job has kept Koppen at it for so many years.
“It’s all there. You just go from one thing to another that’s what keeps you going to the variety,” Koppen said. "There’s not one-story back here that’s ever the same, there’s not one situation that’s ever the same in hunting, fishing, and trapping. That’s what’s so cool.”
The turnover of a Montana game warden is fairly high, making Koppen unique in spending most of his career in one area.
“You have a lot of good hunters, a lot of good sportsmen, a lot of good recreationists, a lot of good people coming back here,” Koppen said. “And we are trying to get the ones that are kind of abusing stuff.”
Koppen owes much of his career success to his faith and family. “I just have a wife that is incredible, and she has understood that that’s the way it is,” he explained. “So, now with retirement, it is going to be all about her.”
In the end, Koppen knows it’s going to be hard to step away from a warden’s life, “I think I’ve done well for the community and the department,” he said. “Yep, it’s going to be tough, to be honest."