Kevin Carter ’10 has been hunting since he was seven years old, when his father took him on his first hunting trip after his family moved to Conway from Fort Smith. Carter’s family bought a cabin and some land down in southeast Arkansas, outside of Clarendon, after accepting an invitation to go hunting with a family friend.
“I duck and deer hunt, and I’m a pro-staffer for Avery Outdoors, which is like being a sales rep,” Carter said. “They make duck and goose decoys, blind bags and all kinds of hunting accessories. I’ve been doing that for about 10 years, and I’ve met pro-staffers from all over the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, Iceland and all over the globe.”
It was nothing out of the ordinary when Carter took his wife Samantha ’10, ’12, daughter and newborn baby boy on a trip to their cabin the weekend before deer season in fall 2016 just to “scope it out.” Carter woke up early that Saturday morning and decided to take a walk through the woods to look for a spot to deer hunt.
“I didn’t plan on being gone for more than 10 or 15 minutes,” Carter said. “I came across a deer stand someone in our hunting camp had put up and decided to climb up and take a look around to see if it might be a good spot to hunt the next weekend.”
Carter said he normally wears a safety harness while in a tree stand but didn’t strap one on because he was just scouting, not planning on staying in the tree. He climbed up about 20 feet until he reached the stand and noticed there were a few leaves on the metal platform.
“I stood up on the metal deer stand. It looked brand new, and I began brushing the leaves off with my feet. I’d been up there about 10 seconds and I heard a ‘pop’,” he said. “Before I could even sit down, the metal cables that support the platform snapped. Like a trap door, the stand just broke.”
Carter only remembers the sound of the cables snapping. He woke up face-down in a pile of leaves, disoriented and in the middle of the woods, and nobody knew where he was.
“I reached for my cell phone and tried to call my wife, but the call wouldn’t go through. I had very bad cell phone service,” Carter recalled. “Somehow I got a call to go through to some guys in our camp in a cabin a couple miles away. I don’t remember what I said to them, but they said I told them I fell out of a tree. They found me and they got me to a hospital in Stuttgart.”
Carter survived a blowout fracture in his right orbital socket, but a third of it was completely crushed. He broke his nose and a couple of his ribs, and suffered some minor bumps and bruises, but miraculously wasn’t paralyzed and is still alive to tell the tale.
“I’m a lucky guy, and it was a pretty high fall, so I’m very fortunate that nothing worse happened to me,” Carter said. “I’ve been doing this my whole life. I met one of my hunting buddies while we were in class at UCA. We started talking about hunting and years later, he was in my wedding. That’s why your different communities and friend circles are important. You never know where they’ll take you.”