Mulling things on my morning ramble with Storm, our family’s mixed Lab.
One of the joys of deer hunting as a kid was that Dad would take us for another day, keeping us out of school one more day.
Reminded of that this morning.
Catching up on social media this morning, I found Ryan Kirkpatrick had an Earl Dibbles Jr. quip: “Education and schoolin’ is good, but goin’ huntin’ is gooder” on Instagram.
Kirkpatrick is one of those young fishermen, who fished for Grayslake North and now Murray State, I keep tabs on because I think they might end up doing something in the business.
Dibbles is a country-boy alter ego and Twitter sensation with nearly a quarter million followers.
A typical gray dismal November morning, where I could not tell which side of the dawn we were on when I stopped for the photo with Storm above.
I grew up in the country of Pennsylvania, where deer hunting was the ultimate social event. It drew more than a million hunters to the field. Roughly one in 10 residents was deer hunting when buck season opened the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Illinois is roughly the same population as Pennsylvania. In Illinois, about 200,000 residents, roughly one in 50, will take to the fields tomorrow when the first firearm deer season opens.
That gives some perspective why the Monday after Thanksgiving was a holiday in all rural schools and even most suburban and urban schools in Pennsylvania. And our school district, like many others, allowed another excused absence if you hunted with your dad, mom or uncles.
So Monday and Tuesday were deer hunting extensions of Thanksgiving.
A pair of belted kingfishers chattered admonitions on the east side of both old clay pits to each other and the approaching meathead and me. That was it for wildlife. Not a single Canada goose was flying, honking or swimming on the town pond.
That worked fine until Mom and Dad sent me to a parochial school as a junior so I would find dating possibilities in Christian girls (and get a Christian education). I would just note that Christian teenagers have the same overriding urges as those of non-believers and often act on them.
The problem was the parochial school principal hated hunting. He demanded that all teachers give any students who took the Tuesday off to hunt deer mandatory 0s.
It was my first real lesson in the politics of life. It was one of the few times my dad, a very quiet working man who didn’t often get involved in controversy, talked to the principal. My dad very plainly said that a day in the woods deer hunting was worth far more than one day in school.
And he was and still is absolutely right about that.
It’s didn’t do any good. The principal seemed even more insistent that teachers give deer hunters 0s on any days they took off from school.
We had a very famous history/social studies teach, the late Mr. Dietz. The bearded whiz came from an obscure sect, River Brethern. He might have been the first from that group to attend college.
Well, he stunned me when he pulled me aside and said I would get the 0, but not to worry it would be diluted as only daily grade. He graded on tests and papers.
At least one other teacher, I know either didn’t mark a 0 or ignored it when calculating grades.
I think next year, I will have the decision to make with our daughter and a day off from school. Life does circle in on itself.
Back in town, on the corner a street over with the bur oaks, two gray squirrels rustled around in the last of the leaves. In the distance, too far to tell the exact direction, a blue jay squawked.