Bowhunter Suffers Freak Accident While Hunting Elk

by Taylor Cunningham
Model released

A bowhunter suffered a freak accident while searching for Elk deep in the Canadian wilderness. Luckily, he survived to tell the story. But he’s unsure if he’ll ever fully recover.

On Thursday, September 15, Chris Landers was hunting in Alberta in the Spirit River valley with two friends. The trio was on the trail of a bulging elk and working through some dense brush when an arrow fell out of Landers’ quiver. The bottom stuck in the ground, leaving the sharp broadhead pointing up.

Landers wasn’t aware that he had lost the arrow and continued on. While focusing forward, he stepped right into it. It pierced through his shin and went out the back of his lower thigh.

“[The arrow] went right beside the bone, almost halfway up my leg,” he told Outdoor Life. “It went past my knee and snapped off somewhere. We found the bottom half of the arrow and another small chunk where it broke, so about 10 inches of arrow were in my leg.”

The situation became a possibly fatal emergency fast. Not only had the blade severed his peroneal nerve, but it also cut an artery. The bowhunter was bleeding out, unable to walk, and in shock.

Miraculously, the group was standing in the only spot of cell service that they had found during their two-day trip. So Landers’ friends, Devon Spencer and Jare Manuel were able to call 9-1-1. Once emergency services were on the way, they worked to slow the bleeding to keep him alive while they waited.

The Bow Hunter Will Remain in a Calgary Hospital And Undergo Several Procedures in the Coming Weeks

An air ambulance and search and rescue helicopter came quickly and landed in a clearing about three-quarters away from the scene. Responders used chainsaws to clear a closer spot for search and rescue to land while workers attended to the injured bowhunter.

“We stopped the bleeding so that it wasn’t crazy bad,” Landers continued. “And I just tried to calm myself down a little bit. We had STARS Air Ambulance flying overhead about an hour and a half later. They nosed down and one of the nurses came down and put a tourniquet on. She couldn’t get an I.V. in because I was in shock, so she had to do an [intraosseous infusion] and had to drill a hole in my leg to put meds in through my shinbone.”

Rescuers were able to help Landers get into the SAR chopper. That team then took him to the air ambulance, which dropped him at a local hospital for emergency surgery. He is now recuperating and undergoing several more procedures at a Calgary hospital.

“I had the surgery for the arrow, then surgery for my nerve, then I had surgery to fix the artery. Then I’ve had four debridements, where they’ve cut dead muscle out of the front of my leg so it doesn’t get infected,” he shared. “I feel alright. It’s been a lot of surgery. But it looks like that might be over with now until they do some skin grafts. But I’ll be in the hospital for a few more weeks I have to imagine.”

Doctors won’t know if Chris Landers will ever regain full mobility and feeling in his leg. Because nerve regeneration is a slow process, it could take months to know if the surgeries worked.