INDEPENDENCE, Minn. (WCCO/CNN) – For families that hunt, killing your first buck is a big deal.
For Pierce Pennaz, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome, it was a day that might never have come.
“So, we got up Saturday morning early, 5 a.m., got Pierce rousted out of bed, dressed for the weather,” his dad Steve Pennaz said.
Despite being under the weather, father and son waited for hours before a six-point buck happened by.
“I have no idea where it came from. All I know is I said, ‘Pierce, there’s a buck,'” Pennaz said. “He had about a 120-yard shot, which is a long shot for a 20-gauge, and he made a perfect hit on the deer.”
It was a magical moment father and son couldn’t have share a year ago.
The 19-year-old was part of an apprentice program where you can hunt with a parent or guardian for two years.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told Pennaz that to be able to hunt after that his son needed to pass a firearm safety course.
So, he asked for help, hoping for a way his special needs son could continue to hunt with him.
“I want to extend the apprentice period so that when we hunt, he’s right here (next to me),” Pennaz said.
Thanks to Rep. Jim Nash of Waconia and other lawmakers, a bill extending the apprentice program became law last spring.
And that had the young man looking forward to fall and his first potential kill.
“Pierce was screaming, ‘I got him. I got him. I did it. I did it,’” Pennaz said.
It wasn’t a trophy buck, but for father and son, it was still a treasure.
“I woke up Sunday morning, I admit, I was crying. I said, “What an amazing experience and what an amazing young man.”