Colin Deveraux told national broadcaster ABC that he was working along the Finniss River in the Northern Territory when he stopped to check a billabong, an Australian term for a pond left when a river recedes.
He could see some fish in the middle of the remaining water and decided to try to catch some, before realizing that there was something else in the water and turning to leave.
“I took two steps and the dirty bastard (the crocodile) latched onto my right foot,” Deveraux told ABC.
“It was a big grab… he shook me like a rag doll and he took off back into the water about three meters (10 feet), pulled me,” he said.
Deveraux recounted how he kicked the crocodile and then fell over with his head near the crocodile’s head before trying to bite it.
“I managed to have a bite,” he said, but he couldn’t get a hold on the crocodile’s head.
Deveraux said his teeth slipped and he managed to get a hold on the eyelid, which he described as “pretty thick, like holding onto leather.”
“I jerked back on that and after about a second goes past and he let go,” continued Deveraux, who then rolled over and ran away.
“He chased me I think three or four meters… but then stopped,” he said.
Deveraux recalled how he managed to stop the bleeding with some rope and later traveled to the hospital, where he was told he had damage to his tendons and “two big slashes just about the full length of the foot.”
Doctors then cleared out all the mud and bacteria from the wound.
“They had to spend a lot of time, I think it was nearly 10 days, flushing it,” said Deveraux. “It was hard going for a while.”
They then fixed the wound with staples and a skin graft taken from above the knee, said Deveraux, who added that he has made a good recovery.
“I can bend my toes, I can get feeling in all my toes,” he said.
Deveraux said he “had no choice” but to fight back.
“It all happened, like I said, in about eight seconds,” he said. “If he had have bit me somewhere else it would have been different I think.”
The saltwater crocodile was around 3.2 meters (10.5 feet) long, added Deveraux.
“He was really in his prime,” he said.
Deveraux told ABC that the incident has made him rethink his behavior, and he now believes he shouldn’t have gone out that far into the billabong.
“I’m a changed man, I’m gonna change what I do,” he said.
ABC reports that Deveraux, who is in his mid-60s, is set to be discharged from Royal Darwin Hospital this week after spending a month getting treatment for the bite.
Saltwater crocodiles, known locally as salties, can grow up to six meters (20 feet) long and weigh up to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds), according to Australia Zoo.
According to federal government estimates, there are about 100,000 saltwater crocodiles in Australia.
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