Alberta Bowhunter Skewers Leg With Arrow While Chasing Elk

Alberta Bowhunter Skewers Leg With Arrow While Chasing Elk Outdoor Life

“10 Inches of Arrow Were in My Leg.” Bowhunter Suffers Freak Accident on Elk Hunt

Chris Landers, a 30-year-old hunter from Strathmore, Alberta underwent four ocular surgeries in 2022 to fix a detached retina caused by a work accident. Despite this, he managed to hunt and successfully harvest an elk and a black bear in 2021. His goal was to repeat this success during the 2022 elk season, but unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.

Landers and his buddies were hunting in the Spirit River valley north of Grand Prairie on Thursday, Sept. 15 when disaster struck. As they were following a bugling elk, some thick brush knocked an arrow out of Landers’ quiver. The arrow somehow stuck into the ground with the broadhead facing upwards. Landers didn’t notice it in time and stepped directly onto the razor-sharp blades. The broadhead pierced his shin, traveled behind his knee, and plunged into the back of his lower thigh.

The blades severed his peroneal nerve and nicked an artery, causing severe bleeding and rendering his left leg immobile and without sensation. As Landers fell to the ground, the tissue and cartilage around his knee joint suffered further damage.

“[The arrow] went right beside my bone, almost halfway up my leg,” Landers tells Outdoor Life from a hospital in Calgary. “It went past my knee and broke 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.”

His hunting partners, Devon Spencer and Jared Manuel, immediately sprang into action. They were fortunate to have cell phone service for the first time in two days, and they called for emergency assistance.

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“We stopped the bleeding to prevent it from getting worse, and I tried to calm myself down,” Landers says. “About an hour and a half later, STARS Air Ambulance arrived. One of the nurses came down and put a tourniquet on. Since I was in shock, she couldn’t insert an IV, so she had to perform an intraosseous infusion. This involved drilling a hole in my leg to deliver medication through my shinbone.”

The STARS Air Ambulance landed in a clearing about three-quarters of a mile away. Emergency responders used chainsaws to create a closer landing spot for the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter on top of the hill. With the assistance of two others, Landers hopped to the SAR helicopter, which then transported him to the Grand Prairie Regional Hospital. Upon his arrival, he underwent emergency surgery to remove the arrow before being transferred to Calgary for additional procedures.

“I had surgery for the arrow, then nerve surgery, and surgery to repair the artery. I’ve also had four debridements to remove dead muscle from the front of my leg and prevent infection,” Landers says. “I feel alright. I’ve undergone a lot of surgery, but it seems like that may be over until I need skin grafts. Nevertheless, I expect to stay in the hospital for a few more weeks.”

The extent of Landers’ leg’s recovery remains uncertain. Nerve regeneration is slow, which complicates the process.

“The nerve was cut quite high up, and it only grows about an inch each month from the point of the injury. This means it will take a long time for it to grow down my leg. I may not regain much up-and-down movement in my foot. The doctors haven’t given me definitive answers yet. However, due to the nerve damage and muscle loss, the outlook isn’t great. Regardless, I’m taking it as it comes. There’s nothing I can change now, so I’m trying not to become overly anxious about it.”

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At the time of the accident, Landers was carrying 150-grain KuduPoint fixed-blade broadheads. He cheekily mentions that the one that caused his injury was brand new.

“Yeah, they work really well,” Landers chuckles. “All my buddies and I use them. They’re exceptional broadheads.”

Despite the physical and emotional trauma of such a horrific accident, Landers and his wife, Taya, are making an effort to remain calm and positive.

“It’s been exceptionally tough because I’m currently in nursing school, and what I’m learning about in class is what I’m experiencing in real life with Chris. However, aside from that, we’re doing pretty well,” Taya says. “We’re trying our best to remain positive and move forward, regardless of what happens with his leg.”

Several GoFundMe campaigns have been set up to support Landers as he embarks on the long road to recovery. This campaign was created by his brother Colin, while this one was organized by his hunting friends Paul Walt and Jacey Bronson, who were hunting in a different area during the accident.

“I have some benefits, although they’re not the best. The GoFundMe campaign, along with everyone’s assistance, has been truly amazing,” Landers says. “They’ve been incredibly helpful, and it’s astounding to think about.”