Arkansas Hunter Falls From Tree Stand After Arrowing the Biggest Buck of His Life

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Markus Semmler

Two weeks ago, Arkansas hunter Chase Watson took the biggest buck he’s ever killed— however it came with a price. As he left his tree stand to get a better shot at the buck, the strap on one of his climbing sticks broke, and he fell some 17 feet to the ground.

He hit hard, fracturing a bone in his right leg and three vertebrae in his back. He couldn’t retrieve his deer since he had to go immediately to the hospital.

In fact, he wouldn’t be able to see the slain 163-inch buck until the following afternoon when his friend brought the deer to the hospital parking lot.

Currently, Watson is recovering from his injuries at home. He still has a deep bone bruise on his left heel and a fractured fibula in his right leg. Watson has been bowhunting on his family’s 450-acre farm since he was 10. Now 25, he’s taken three whitetails, all over 140-inches in the last 15 years.

However, the 10-pointer he got was the biggest buck he’s ever seen on the property. Later, Watson began hunting him two days after the archery season began.

Over the next couple weeks, Watson followed him, moving from spot to spot, but he only caught glimpses on trail cameras. After a cold front blew in around the middle of the month, Watson moved to a treestand.

On October 17, Watson got pictures of the buck from his cellular trail cam near the treestand. He decided to leave work early, hiked into the woods, and climbed the same tree he had done so many times before. By 3 p.m., he was harnessed to the tree and ready to go.

Hunter lands in hospital after plummeting 17 feet

Around 5 p.m., an 8-pointer walked by, then, five minutes later, Watson caught a glimpse of Scoob.

“From there it was probably a five-minute ordeal, and he worked every scrape that young 8-pointer had worked,” Watson said. “He was about to come into the main scrape at 17 yards, but right behind him came five does. They were a little downwind and they started getting nervous. At this point he’s probably 30 yards, and this one doe starts stomping, so he turns and starts walking toward them.”

With the buck on his right side, Watson spun himself around to get in position. When the buck stopped in an opening about 35 yards away, Watson drew his pin and let go. Although the arrow hit a little high, striking the spine but went through both lungs.

“I was trying to get another arrow in him, but he kind of flopped over in some brush and I couldn’t get another [shot] from the stand.”

In retrospect, Watson believes the buck probably died after the first shot. However, when it happened, he was focused on finishing the job.

“So I went ahead and let the bow down to the ground, climbed over and onto the climbing sticks,” he says. “I unhooked from the rope attaching me to the safety harness, and I made it two steps down. That’s when the strap on the stick broke.”

Although he doesn’t remember the fall, he does remember picking himself up, walking over to the buck, and putting another arrow in him.