Last Novem­ber, duck hunter Krit Krutchaiyan, 50, was wad­ing through the Ever­glades out­side of We­ston, Fla., when a 7-foot al­li­ga­tor at­tacked.

My buddy Roberto and I loaded our kayaks with gear and headed out at about 1:30 that af­ter­noon. Where we hunt, you have to wade through shal­lows cov­ered with hy­drilla and cat­tails to reach open wa­ter. Roberto sug­gested I go first, and I didn’t hes­i­tate—I’ve hunted that spot for 13 years.

I was drag­ging the kayak along just fine when I bumped into what seemed like a sub­merged limb. Be­fore I could take an­other step, an al­li­ga­tor clamped down on my left thigh. “That thing bit me!” I yelled, but I was in such shock that I couldn’t feel any pain.

I in­stinc­tively hit the gator on the head, and it re­leased me, then dove into a bar­rel roll. It could have taken me un­der if I hadn’t hit it. I backpedaled to es­cape, but the gator lunged for me again. Roberto was wad­ing 10 feet be­hind me. When he saw the gator com­ing back at me, he shoved my kayak be­tween us, keep­ing it from chomp­ing down a sec­ond time.

Roberto helped me climb into his kayak, then dragged me to shore. I could tell I was bleed­ing a lot but couldn’t see just how bad it was through my waders. An off-duty fire­fighter hap­pened to see us try­ing to tie a tourni­quet around my leg. He came over and helped me fas­ten it, then drove me to meet paramedics. I was for­tu­nate—the al­li­ga­tor missed all of my ma­jor ar­ter­ies and nerves. Next time I duck hunt, I’ll def­i­nitely be in a boat. The im­age of that al­li­ga­tor bit­ing into my thigh is burned into my mind, and I’m not go­ing to push my luck again.

In Stitches

Krutchaiyan’s gator run-in left him scarred and cau­tious but with full use of his leg.

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