Justin Lanclos, from Sulphur in southwest Louisiana, is a serious bow hunter. He is into the sport so much so that he designed and is owner of a popular bowhunting site, Louisianabowhunter.com.
With archery season going full tilt around the state, you would expect Lanclos to be sitting in a tree, bow in hand waiting for a whitetail buck to step out. Instead, he sits at home, monitoring his website keeping tabs on what other bowhunters are doing this season.
The reason he’s not up a tree in the woods? On July 16, Lanclos was the victim of an accident we hear about too often during deer season. While preparing a deer stand for the upcoming season, Lanclos made what could have likely been a fatal mistake and fell 20 feet to the ground, incurring serious injuries. Here’s what happened when he and his 9-year-old son, Carter, reached the stand location he was preparing to hunt…
“When we reached the stand location, I gave my son his first important task to cut vines, limbs and twigs. As he opened up the trail for me, I climbed tree sticks I had left on a previous trip. I planned to hang my lock-on stand 20 feet off the ground. The stand was attached below the first fork to help break my silhouette and give me room to hang my pack and bow,” Lanclos recalled.
Deer hunters who hunt from elevated stands do this every day and what Lanclos did that day was no different. Also like many hunters, he hadn’t yet secured a harness in the event of a fall. After all, why attach an uncomfortable harness when you’re just getting things ready to hunt, right?
“I was straddling the fork of the tree and feeling very secure,” he said, remembering how he was maintaining a good grip on the tree, being conscious he was not yet tied off. He dug the stand into the bark to get a real good bite and made sure it wasn’t going to move.
After securing his stand, Lanclos sat down to cool off a bit as the July sun was beating down on him.
“I remember looking down at my son and saying, ‘You’re doing a good job, Bubba.’”
What happened next took place in less than two seconds and resulted in what too often results in a fatality or at least severe injuries.
“I stood up to make room for my body as I twisted to leave only my right foot on the stand while placing my left foot over the ladder to begin my decent. As I shifted the majority of my weight from my stand to the ladder, the limb (he had reached out to hold while making the simple transfer) that was expected to hold me broke,” Lanclos continued.
He scrambled to try and grab the ladder but missed, slicing his hand open in the process.
“As I began to fall, I kicked at the tree to clear myself from the ladder hoping to avoid any additional injuries. I remember thinking ‘This is it’ and trying to tell Carter that I love him.”
Less than two seconds later, Lanclos crashed to the ground, landing on his feet with his face taking the final blow. His left knee was shattered like an egg shell.
Long story short, Lanclos with the help of his obviously frightened son, was able to call for help and was transported to the hospital.
Today, three months later and after several surgeries, Lanclos gets around on crutches, still unable to put his weight down on his left leg.
His message to other deer hunters is this… "I beg everyone to wear a harness when in a tree. Please share my story with every hunter you know. I thought I was safe. I was experienced. Unless you have every scenario covered, there’s still room for an accident to happen. Your family needs you and you need them; make sure they know that.”