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. —As told to Hilary Ribons

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