Hamerstrom's Influence

This webpage was created by Joe Schmutz on 3 May 2023 and last updated on 22 May 2023. His mentors were Fredeick & Frances Hamerstrom who studied under Aldo Leopold. They instilled some of the same values and methods they learned in Joe. He is proud to attempt to follow in their footsteps.


Joe's life was forever changed when he met the Hamerstroms in spring 1970. He and his friend Karl Lang, drove down to meet with Fran & Hammy, as they came to be called. Karl wanted to apply for a summer job as a "gaboon". He had seen an ad in a German falconry magazine asking for someone who was a falconer, could do field work studying Harriers, and help translate Fran's book "An Eagle to the Sky".

Somehow when they left, it was Joe who was hired and Karl went back to Germany to study medicine. He always attributed this to the fact that he spent a fair bit of time chopping wood, and not much time talking.

At the end of that fateful summer, they helped Joe get admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. They became the "sponsors" he needed as a foreign student. This meant that they would pay his medical bills if he became ill, or in serious debt. Thankfully that service was not required. But they spent many hours helping him translate the essays he wrote first in German, then in English to be correct grammatically.

Joe met his future wife, Sheila Stark, that summer also. In August 1972, Joe married Sheila in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. His entire family was still in Germany. The Hamerstroms said they would be his "pseudo-parents" and gave the rehearsal dinner and stood in the receiving line at the reception.

Fran & Hammy greatly influenced Joe's academic path. But they also greatly affected many of the other ways Joe lived his life thereafter. Shown here, his old VW bus, next to their newer VW bus!

The Hamerstroms also showed us that one could live frugally and take care of older homes. We managed to do this throughout our studies and leave with PhDs and no student loans.

The Hamerstoms also guided us through our first two publications during this period.

Influences on Further Work

Fran & Hammy published a manuscript on voles with Charles Burke in 1985. Effect of Voles on Mating Systems in a Central Wisconsin Population of Harriers and Fran had published a similar manuscript earlier: Effect of Prey on Predator: Voles and Harriers.

See Joe's web article: Voles on the Range.

As described above, one of Fran's books was about Golden Eagles. Joe presented a webinar on Golden Eagles on May 3, 2023 by zoom, now available on Youtube.

Further Reading

For further information, e-mail Joe Schmutz.