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Old 07-13-2008, 12:30 PM   #1
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Default Zac's story on NBC15

PACE, Fla. (AP) - There are very few people who can claim to be a staple feature on a national outdoors television show. Only a lucky few can say they've made it to that level, but many if not all of us wish and hope for that chance.

What if you got your chance at 11-years-old?

Zac Cooper of Pace is 11 "Going on 12," he's quick to point out and is the newest member of the pro staff for Outdoor Allstars on Direct TV's Maximum Adventure Network as well as Ol' Man Treestands.

"I feel so blessed," said Zac, a rising seventh-grader at Chumuckla High School. "There's so many kids out there that want to be in my position."

Like many children who are avid hunters, Zac grew up in a family that loves the outdoors. His father, Chad Cooper, owns Cooper's Taxidermy, and has been a hunter all his life. Getting his son involved in something he's so passionate about was a no-brainer.

"His first birthday gift was a lifetime hunting license," the elder Cooper said. " The office in Milton, the computer was down and I wanted the license to be printed on his birthday so I drove to Pensacola."

The license was not Zac's first taste of the outdoor life. He had been a fixture in the treestand with his dad since he was just a few months old. Bundled against the cold, the wind and with cotton in his ears to shield him from the gun shots, baby Zac, four months old at the time, was strapped in his car seat and sat patiently through that first hunting season, right next to his dad.

"I feel so fortunate for where he's at," Chad Cooper said. "There's a list of people I'd love to thank. There'd be people (at the shop) waiting for Zac to get off the bus after school to take him hunting because I had to work."

Zac, always well-mannered and respectful, shared the same sentiment.

"That's part of what makes me feel so blessed, all these people reached out to me," he said.

And this was before he was a big TV star.

It wasn't until two weeks ago that the Coopers knew if Zac had what it takes to stand up to the rigourous world of on-camera hunting.

After three days of tough hunting for wild boar in Alabama, everybody, including the show's producers, knew Zac was right in his element.

"We had a blast up there," said Wayne Burns, producer and host of the show. "We had him on a bunch of hogs but it didn't present the shot we wanted. Three days, we hunted real hard, and Zac was just as good if not better than most grown ups. He didn't complain. Most kids, a day out there and it's over.

"We took him to a spot that's hard hunting to show him this is how we do it," Burns said. "We don't do it the easiest way of doing it but we do it how we grew up hunting. If he could last three days, he can make it."

Now that he's made it, Zac will be seen on the show that airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 9 p.m. Outdoor Allstars will be moving to Sundays at 8 p.m. in July and Zac will be featured in the introduction, outros, commercials as well as a few upcoming hunts scheduled for Illinois, south and central Texas, Missouri, Alabama and Florida.

It wasn't by chance that Burns found Zac. There was a little help from Mike Scott of Scott's Outdoors Sports in Jay.

Scott had been hunting with Burns before and has known the Cooper family for years.

Scott's son-in-law owns Ol' Man Treestands and is a major sponsor of Outdoor Allstars.

"I've known the Coopers all my career," Scott said. "You'd have to be blind when you meet Zac to look in his eyes not to understand how he cherishes the hunting and fishing. It's a joy to walk with this young man and get him the attention and credit he deserves."

While he's only been hunting for a few years remember he's just 11 Zac has harvested more than 40 deer 22 this past season.

The first?

"It was a fallow deer when I was about five," he said. "It really just escalated from that moment in time. It was more interesting, more exciting. I just love it."

The most memorable?

"To tell the truth, the most excited I got was my first bow kill in Ponce de Leon," Zac said. "I got in the stand by myself, spotted a doe, and shot it. Then I went and got it by myself. My dad had tears in his eyes."

They of course were tears of pride.

Chad Cooper wells up with it every time he talks about his son. And well he should. The straight-A student works at the shop with his dad helping make forms for mounts, skinning deer heads and whatever else needs doing.

He earns a paycheck, saves half of it and spends the other half. Yes, it mostly goes to hunting and fishing gear.

Zac has a lifetime ahead of him but already has a focus on what he wants to do and how to get there. While many kids entering high school are thinking about parties and good times, Zac steers toward the outdoors, family and studies.

He knows if his grades slip, he'll have to miss a bit of the hunting season, those are the rules.

"I was making As and Bs but then finished (6th grade) with straight As," Zac said. "I have felt so blessed and so happy (hunting). It really motivated me so I could have this feeling all the time."

He knows he has a chance to share his love for the sport with many children his own age and plans to help revive it among the younger generation.

"I'm really looking forward to being able to reach out to the younger generation to get them interested," he said. "It's such a wonderful sport and I really want them to get interested in it too."

End advance


Information from: Pensacola News Journal,

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Old 07-13-2008, 01:00 PM   #2
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Default RE: Zac's story on NBC15

Awesome. Looks like the word is spreading.

I saw it online in the Bradneton Herald as well as Jacksonville and Sarasota papers.

Some of them even put my name on it.
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:41 PM   #3
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Default RE: Zac's story on NBC15

On cox cable what channel will we be able to check out the action?????
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Old 07-13-2008, 05:01 PM   #4
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Default RE: Zac's story on NBC15

When will it be on???
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Old 07-13-2008, 05:16 PM   #5
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Default RE: Zac's story on NBC15

That was some great read!!!! Thanks...:clap...I can't wait for more about Zac...:bowdown


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