Justin Lanclos is a serious bowhunter — so much so that he designed and owns the popular bowhunting site louisianabowhunter.com.

With archery season going full tilt now around the state, you’d expect him to be sitting in a tree with bow in hand, waiting for a whitetail buck to step out. 

Instead, Lanclos is sitting at his home in Sulphur, monitoring his website to keep tabs on what other bowhunters are doing this season.

So why isn’t he up a tree in the woods? 

On July 16, Lanclos was the victim of an accident we hear about all too often. While preparing a stand for the upcoming season, he made what could have been a fatal mistake by not using a safety harness and fell 20 feet to the ground, incurring serious injuries. 

Here’s what happened that July day when he and his 9-year-old son Carter were prepping an area where Lanclos planned on hanging a lock-on.

“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,” he said. “The stand was attached below the first fork to help break my silhouette and give me room to hang my pack and bow.”

Deer hunters who hunt from elevated stands do this every day, and what Lanclos did was no different. Like many hunters, he didn’t secure a safety 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, conscious he wasn’t 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 the stand, Lanclos sat down to cool off a bit as the July sun beat 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 could have been a fatal fall — or one with more serious 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 descent,” he said. “As I shifted the majority of my weight from my stand to the ladder, the limb (he reached out for) that was expected to hold me broke.”

He scrambled to grab the ladder but missed, and sliced 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,” Lanclos said. “I remember thinking ‘This is it’, and trying to tell Carter that I love him.”

Lanclos crashed to the ground and landed on his feet, with his face taking the final blow. His left knee instantly shattered like an egg shell.

To make a long story short, Lanclos — with the help of his frightened son — was able to call for help and was transported to a hospital.

Three months and several surgeries later, he’s still getting around on crutches, unable to put weight on his left leg.

His message to other deer hunters this season is simple.

“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,” he said. “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.”