A Colorado hunter had to be airlifted after he was wounded by a lost arrow left in the wilderness.
For the second time in 2 years, a hunter in Routt County, Colo., has been impaled by a lost arrow after traveling off trail. Routt County Search and Rescue (RCSAR) reported the incident on its Facebook page on Oct. 7. Rescuers used a twin-engine Bell-429 helicopter to airlift the wounded hunter to Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Details of the hunter’s current status have not been released.
According to CBS News Colorado, the hunter was impaled above the knee while hiking off trail. He sent an SOS message on his rescue beacon and then remained in place, allowing RCSAR to find him after roughly 1.5 miles of bushwhacking. The hunter’s rescue beacon was low on battery, and he turned it off after sending the message. When the rescue team arrived, they found the hunter had removed the arrow from his leg.
“With penetrating injuries, it is never recommended to remove the object in the field,” said RCSAR VP Harry Sandler in a statement obtained by CBS News Colorado. “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.”
Lightning Strikes Twice: 2nd Arrow Injury in 2 Years
This is the second such injury in Routt County in 2 years, with the first occurring near South Franz Creek and Mount Cady. Rescuers reached that hunter with all-terrain vehicles.
“While we know that it is not always feasible, bowhunters should make every effort possible to find a lost arrow, as the razor-sharp broadheads pose a very real risk to any humans or animals who may pass through the area in the future,” said a spokesperson for RCSAR said in a statement obtained by Denver Fox affiliate KDVR.
“Things like using an illuminated nock, adhering strips of reflective arrow wrap, or fletching brightly colored vanes can increase your chances of finding a stray arrow.”
Colorado legalized lighted nocks in 2015. RCSAR suggests this blog post for arrow retrieval best practices.
Retrieving Lost Arrows: Leave No Trace
Bowhunters should always attempt to find and retrieve lost arrows after a shot. This is a critical early step in successfully blood-trailing game. Beyond that, removing the razor-sharp arrow from the woods removes the risk to other humans and animals that use and live in the wilderness.
Thus, retrieving arrows should join the rest of your bow-and-arrow safety precautions. Losing arrows can and does happen. They often bury in debris or blend into thick brush. But hunters should take every possible measure to prevent it from happening.
And if you happen to stumble across an arrow while hunting or hiking, pack it out. It’s good Leave No Trace practice, and it could save someone else (or an animal) a serious injury.