New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
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New Mexico game wardens rescue horseback rider injured in back country

CHAMA – Game wardens helped rescue Randy Van Zant, a 64-year-old Chama area man thrown from his horse while riding in a remote, rugged area of the Humphries Wildlife Management Area.

Van Zant suffered a badly broken arm and had to be airlifted from the field after it was determined that he couldn’t be transported across rough terrain by vehicle.

The man’s horse apparently spooked at the sight of a trailside stone marker and threw the man to the ground during a Nov. 3 outing.

“Apparently the horse didn’t know what it was and jumped sideways and the rider spun in the other direction,” said New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Conservation Officer Mark Bundren. “He fell on his arm. The break wasn’t through the skin, but you could see the break. It was bad.”

A fellow rider sought help from Bundren, the department’s Chama area officer, who responded to the remote scene accompanied by fellow game warden John Zamora, a Rio Arriba County deputy and local emergency medical technicians in an ambulance. It was determined based on the man’s medical condition and the rough terrain that a helicopter was the best way to extract the injured rider.

Van Zant later was treated and released from a Durango, Colo. hospital and is recovering nicely, Bundren said. The department’s estimated 10,000-acre Bill Humphries Wildlife Area is about 10 miles west of Chama off U.S. 64 and is a popular wildlife and scenic viewing area open to licensed hunters, anglers, trappers and those with a valid department issued habitat stamp.