Iowa teens skipping school for shotgun deer season - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa teens skipping school for shotgun deer season

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ELKADER (KWWL) -

The first of Iowa's two shotgun deer hunting seasons is well underway, which means a lot of people are taking some vacation days this week.

In a snapshot of eastern Iowa culture, however, school attendance gives a glimpse into how this hunting season affects more than just the workplace.

The buzzing halls of Central Community Junior and Senior High School in Elkader Monday afternoon were missing a number of students.

A look around principal and athletic director Dan Yanda's office may serve as a clue to the absent teens.

"1978 that's the first deer I shot," Yanda said, gesturing to a mounted deer rack on the wall.

This avid hunter and principal says every shotgun deer hunting season, a noticeable number of students take time off from school to hunt with their families. In fact, there's even a system in place for it.

"Students have to tell us ahead of time when they're going to be gone. They have to do advanced make-up. We classify it as a family day," Yanda said. "Hopefully, the idea is that they're taking it as a family day for some bonding with the mother or a father or a brother, older sister, whatever, and then we ask them to do their work ahead of time, and then the parent has to call in to let us know where they're at."

On Monday, about 10 of the school's approximately 250 students were out hunting, Yanda said.

"We had a lot of students that, actually, thought they might be gone today but they got their deer so they're back in school," he said. "It's getting parents and their son and daughter closer by doing an activity together."

Jessica Jansen, a senior, and her brother Jacob Jansen, a freshman, were in school Monday but went hunting with their parents over the weekend. Their mom, a school board member, bagged her first buck.

"It's just a really big deal for our family and a lot of other families I know in our community," Jacob said. "Opening shotgun, everyone's talking about it. It's almost like a holiday for us around here."

"So many people are doing it. Like, a lot of the boys in my class are gone for hunting and that's just kind of what everybody does, and you, like, look out on the field, and it's cool to see, like, all the different orange speckles and stuff because you can just tell that so many people are passionate about it around here," Jessica said, referencing the blaze orange vests hunters are required to wear.

It's a tradition embedded in Iowa culture.

"I think it helps students realize that there are other things than video games and I wish a lot of kids would take advantage of it," Yanda said.

KWWL called a number of other rural eastern Iowa high schools. They all reported the same trend, plus similar ways of allowing students to take this time with their families.

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