The 2012 gun deer-hunting season starts on Saturday, November 17. Around this time, the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point campus becomes a little quieter, especially in the classrooms, as hunters leave for their respective hometowns and families.
Hunting season is one of the biggest events that occur during the academic year. In Wisconsin, it is considered part of the culture and thought of as another holiday where families come together. With so many absences in the classroom, is it possible that hunters’ grades are affected?
UWSP students and hunters Josh Wallace, Ryan Kuchenbecker and Rebecca Sutherland discussed their thoughts on class attendance and the reason why they skip classes during the season.
“Hunting season hasn’t affected my grades much, but one has to understand that if you opt to skip class there needs to be some independent study thrown in during the week. Hunting season is not an excuse to slough off,” Sutherland said. “Most professors understand that people want to go home that week. Just be smart about it and know your priorities, whatever they may be.”
Kuchenbecker said that one of his professors takes off the entire week after opening weekend because she knows how important the season is to her students.
“She is already expecting that nearly half the class doesn’t show up that time of year, so she doesn’t have anything really planned for us. And she is a hunter like her students are,” Kuchenbecker said.
For Wallace, hunting season is just as important to him as his classes, but he will not go out of his way to skip class if he can avoid it.
“If it is only one class, sometimes I’ll feel like I don’t need to stick around for it because hunting season only comes around once a year. If need be, I would arrange to miss class, but I typically don’t like to miss class if I don’t need to,” Wallace said.
Dr. Rachael Barnett, English professor, briefly mentions how hunting season affects her classes and what she has done over the years to prepare for this time of the year. In her experience, she said, the season does not greatly affect classroom attendance.
“The impact hunting season has on my classes has never been disruptive. Since I allow two absences, many of my students who will hunt save their absences for the season, and most have been sure to make arrangements beforehand for any assignments they miss,” Barnett said.
Barnett explains that she leaves it to the discretion of her students “to make sure that hunting doesn’t interfere with the class.”
“When I first started at UWSP, I had no idea how significant an event hunting season is in the area, and I was surprised how many students participate. Now, I am aware when hunting season comes around,” Barnett said.
Despite the loss of class time and a significant amount of absences, most hunters agree that hunting season is not simply going out into the woods waiting to shoot something. They say it is a family tradition that has been carried out for generations, which is the reason why so many opt to skip school to participate.
“Hunting season is the longest time during the year that I get to simply relax with my extended family. We spend a week driving all over the county, eating too much food, playing way too many card games and cracking way too many jokes. Honestly, most of our family stories and jokes are created during hunting season,” Sutherland said.
“It’s another chance of the year for you to see parts of your family that you normally don’t get to see at any other time during the year, and it’s a time to escape the stress of school,” Kuchenbecker said.
Hunting season is a tradition that student hunters at UWSP greatly look forward to and are willing to skip a week of their formal education to be with their families if it means they get to be a part of the camaraderie that is associated with it.