Rodney (Rod) and Robert (Rob) Felt, brothers who grew up on an area farm, have always done everything together, despite the fact that Robert is legally blind, only able to make out some shapes and colors. As kids, they romped through the woods, Rodney never thinking twice about his brother's disability, treating him just the same.
"We'd come back with maybe a few more bumps and bruises than most," said Rodney, with a laugh, "but we'd come back."
This year's hunting opener weekend was no different—the two brothers decided to go romping in the woods of Clearwater County again like the good ol' days. They weren't going to let being legally blind hold Robert back from bagging his first deer.
"Rod and I devised this means where we would do a team shoot," said Robert.
Both handling the same gun, a Browning A-bolt in .308 caliber, Robert's hand rested on the grip and trigger guard of the rifle, and Rodney controlled the scope, acting as his eyes, planning to line up the deer in the crosshairs and signaling for Robert to squeeze the trigger with the word "now."
Fitting that the two should finish a deer together, seeing as Robert says they're so close they already finish each other's sentences.
Rodney says this maneuver took a lot of trust and thought, though, on account of the inevitable rifle's recoil.
"I had to trust that all systems were go, so I didn't get a scope bite," said Rodney, but he had faith in his brother and their maneuver. "Rob has a good sense about things like that."
With the maneuver, Robert had his right hand around the grip, so he was in charge of controlling the recoil by snugging the rifle into Rodney's shoulder.
With everything in place, the only thing left to do was wait for a deer to come by.
The two laid in the deer blind, quiet, when a couple of does walked into the line of fire.
"The deer were pretty wary," said Rodney, "and we took a neck shot."
They missed the first shot, not having the shooting system down quite yet, but the second doe that wandered into their crosshairs was a confirmed kill.
"I said 'now', and he squeezed one off, and the deer stopped in its tracks. 102 yards," said Rodney. "We're pretty ecstatic! It was such a neat feeling for me to help him do something he hadn't done."
"It was a neat experience," agreed Robert, who now had his first deer at 62 years old.
Though, he says, more than doing the thing itself was the act of collaborating with his brother, gaining even more trust between brothers who were already the best of friends.
"Just pulling it off was neat," said Rodney. "But I didn't realize it would hit me the way it did."
It was the act of helping his brother—not getting the deer, and Rodney says he would definitely encourage others to consider doing something like this.
"It doesn't even have to be a hunt, just helping somebody do something who can't normally do it," he said.
Robert agreed, saying he was very grateful that his brother took the time to help him out: "It was very giving of him to do that. You know, I could have just gone out with him and not had a part in that."
Rodney could have focused on getting the prize-size buck rather than helping his brother experience deer hunting for the first time, but he didn't—their maneuver was a challenge in its own way and still something to celebrate.