Helicopter Rescues Colorado Bowhunter Impaled by Another Hunter's Lost Arrow

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The injured man's rescue beacon likely saved his life

A rescue beacon likely saved the life of a lone Colorado bowhunter after he was badly injured by another hunter’s abandoned arrow in a remote section of wilderness.

According to a member of Routt County Search and Rescue (RCSAR), the arrow’s broadhead impaled the hunter above the knee while he was hiking off trail.

RCSAR Vice President Harry Sandler told CBS4 the arrow was left behind by another hunter after an errant shot. It is unknown how long the arrow had been there, but just last year another Routt County bowhunter was injured by a lost arrow, he said.

After getting injured, the hunter sent an SOS on his rescue beacon before shutting it off due to low battery power.

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In response, an RCSAR team drove four miles to the Elk Park Trailhead north of Steamboat Springs, hiked 2.5 miles to the South Fork of Mad Creek, and then bushwacked through dense wilderness 1.5 miles to reach the hunter's last known coordinates.

They easily found the hunter, who had not moved since sending the SOS. The injured man was extracted by a helicopter and transported to UCHealth's Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs.

Last year, another bowhunter was also impaled by a lost arrow near South Franz Creek and Mount Candy, Sandler said. First responders reached that hunter by all-terrain vehicles. But unlike the recent hunter, last year's hunter left the arrow in his leg.

"With penetrating injuries, it is never recommended to remove the object in the field," Sandler stated. "It is best to let surgeons at the hospital perform this task. Leaving the object in reduces the chances of severe bleeding and additional tissue damage."

Sandler said it’s important that backcountry hunters add a tourniquet and hemostatic gauze to their first aid kits.

"In both instances, the hunters were walking off-trail in tall, dense brush, which made seeing their feet challenging," Sandler stated. "This obviously makes spotting a lost arrow quite difficult, especially if it is camouflaged or hidden from view.

"Hunters should also always carry the 10 Essentials and be prepared for rapidly changing weather as is common this time of year in the Rockies," Sandler continued. Regarding last week's hunter, "Having a PLB or satellite messenger likely saved this hunter's life as he was alone, immobile, and in an extremely remote area with no cell service."

Sandler also said, while it’s not always possible, bowhunters should make every effort possible to find a lost arrow.

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