Bowhunter Breaks Leg; Crawls For Four Days to Safety!

Stranded in Idaho’s back country with a badly broken leg last week, California resident John Sain had given up hope.

“I thought that I wasn’t going to make it,” Sain said Thursday in a phone interview with The Press Enterprise newspaper. “The terrain was too rough, my leg was broken, my foot was up to my ribcage …”

What kept Sain alive through the three-mile,  four-day ordeal, the said, was his love for his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Brooke and Cole (pictured above). With that, he mustered the willpower to crawl miles to a trail, where he eventually was saved.

“The main reason I fought to get out was for my family and by the grace of God,” Sain said. “That was the fuel that got me out of there.”

Last Thursday Sain was recovering from his injuries at a hospital in Boise, Idaho. He was thankful to be alive, but traumatized by what had happened.

“He’s hanging in there,” Jennifer said. “The hardest part is seeing him struggle. He’s trying to get back to normal.”

Sain, 50, a lifelong hunter, grew up in Montana but moved to Riverside, Calif., where he works as a general contractor. Every year, Sain said, he tries to make it to either Idaho or Montana for a hunting trip. He usually goes alone.

Last week, he traveled to northwest Idaho to go bowhunting in elk country. Sain backpacked about six miles into the back country, where he set up camp Wednesday night, he said.

While hiking the next day, Sain’s foot got stuck under a log. Both bones in his lower leg broke, leaving him with his foot bent upward.

Sain told the Press Enterprise he had no cellphone service, and was miles away from anyone else. He did have a little food, a water purifier and a small survival kit, and he built a fire each night for warmth.

At one point, despair set in. Sure he would not survive, he wrote letters to his wife and children, and began to consider his options – among them, suicide.

“I thought I was going to die, and I decided that I wasn’t just going to take my life right there,” Sain said.

He realized his only chance was to crawl toward a trail, so he fashioned a splint for his leg and set off.

It took him two agonizing days to reach the trail, crawling through brush that further injured him.

When he finally got there, he waited for hours without seeing anyone. He was running out of food and getting dangerously dehydrated. Though he had a water purifier, he didn’t have the energy to get to water.

For a second time, he gave up hope.

But then, salvation: Two motorcycle riders appeared. The riders turned out to be lost, Sain said. He believes they were the answer to his prayers.

“It was such a relief,” Sain said. “I prayed the whole time.”

The riders immediately gave Sain water, and one of them went to an area where they could call 911. After the riders cleared a landing for a helicopter, paramedics rescued Sain. He was air-lifted to a hospital in Boise, where he called his wife before going into surgery.

Sain said he plans to go hunting again, although probably not this season. And while he’d still go alone, next time he’ll bring a satellite phone or GPS locator.


(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Sain)


Guide Outdoors Readers: Have you ever been caught in a situation where your life was in danger during an outdoor adventure, but you were lucky enough to get out of it? Please comment below.






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