Two girls in Pend Oreille County gave their father an early Father’s Day gift.
They took him hunting.
“A dad couldn’t ask for a better present,” said Chris Jones of Newport in late May. His 10-year-old daughter, Faith, had just bagged her first wild turkey and he was clearly ecstatic even through the filter of email.
This wasn’t a gift a child could buy and wrap in a day.
Faith and her sister, Ally, 8, had to devote eight weeks to a hunter education course. That meant reading and studying in addition to their regular school work and soccer practice. And they had to devote extra time to passing the field skills and shooting requirement, which they completed at the end of April.
Their regular bedtime is 8:30, but during that period they were staying up past 10. “I expected a meltdown anytime,” Chris recalled.
On the contrary, they passed the course and skills exams on April 23 and asked if they could go hunting the next day. They bought their tags on the way home from the field test.
Chris, an avid hunter, was flying high.
“My favorite part of the first hunt,” he said, “was watching young girls walk through the woods with their guns for the first time knowing that they had a real tag and license in their pocket, practicing perfect muzzle control, and doing everything they had been taught by Greg Koehn, their hunter ed instructor, over the past week.”
They tried several evening hunts with no luck before making the extra sacrifice to plan morning hunts.
Ally scored first, with a perfect 15-yard shot at a tom her dad called in to their blind.
“I couldn’t help but laugh when she whispered “Dad why are my hands shaking.”
Faith had to buck up to her younger sister’s early success at filling her tag and seeing her dad beam bright like the sun that rose above the hills a few minutes later.
As most hunters know, success doesn’t always come so easy.
Faith had to try many more times, scouting in the evenings with her dad and then getting up extra early as the days got longer to be hiking in the field before daylight only to have to cut the hunts short to go to school or soccer games.
“She is starting to figure out that there is more to hunting then harvesting,” he said after coming close to success, but not close enough.
“On May 25, she finally got her chance before school,” Chris said. “Four toms were talking. We didn’t have time to set up the blind and try to call so we decided on a stalk. I knew that I had to find her a rest (for the shotgun).
“We used the trees and brush to get in as close as we could. With me lying on my back, my hand on a tree with one finger sticking out for a rest for the barrel she lined up. There were four toms and three deer all within shooting range.”
Faith was on her own. Her dad was on his back. He was looking at her, but couldn’t see the turkeys.
“I just kept telling her to line up her bead and aim for the head. She kept saying he’s behind a tree. The longer she waited the more she shook.
“I was trying not to giggle but how can you not?
“Finally the shotgun fired. The first thing out of her mouth was ‘Oh my gosh! I got him, Daddy.’ “
“I even got her to school with two minutes to spare.”
That gave Chris a chance to chill his emotions and reflect.
“There’s something wonderful about spending time in the woods with your kids,” he said.
It’s one way kids can celebrate Father’s Day any day of the year.