Hunting

Dalton Ferris waited 17 years for this moment as he celebrates the harvesting of his first antelope near Bill.

DOUGLAS — It wasn’t the cleanest shot, 17-year-old Dalton Ferris admitted with a big toothy smile as he recounted his antelope hunt last month, his first time out with his own rifle after finally passing hunter’s safety class this summer.

“A butt shot for the kill,” his mother Robyn laughed as Dalton gave her two thumbs up. They had to follow the antelope for several yards until it bled out, but the thrill of finally harvesting his own antelope more than outweighed the lack of mastery with his rifle.

He’d been practicing shooting at the range with his father for years, and he spent his childhood watching his dad and older sister Billie bring wild animals home.

First, he was a toddler riding along in a pack on his dad’s back; later, he was a boy hustling along to keep up with his dad and Billie, who by then, had plenty of her own trophies.

This year, Dalton has his own mount to add to the family’s collection.

“It was awesome,” Dalton said, smiling up from his stool in The Depot restaurant last Friday, where he had just finished his bussing shift. “I shot (it) in the butt.”

It was worth the 4 a.m. wake up call, and the several-hour hike in the Thunder Basin National Grassland near Bill, and helping his dad lug out the meat on his back.

Now, he has a freezer full of steaks, burgers and his favorite, sausage, that he alone brought home.

It’s a good feeling, he said, and his mom nodded.

“I’m a proud Mama,” she said, as Dalton beamed in return.

“Oh yeah,” Dalton said, flexing his muscles as his mother laughed.

Born with Down Syndrome, Dalton doesn’t let anything hold him back nor does he let his disability define him. Along with hunting, he’s also a Special Olympics gold medal athlete who’s held the weight lifting title for years. He works part-time at The Depot after school and already has two prom invitations months in advance of the actual date.

Next year, he wants to go for an elk, and he’s thinking ahead. This time, he plans to aim for the chest.

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