Kevin Marks was excited to spend the weekend before his birthday fishing in Port O'Connor.
Marks traveled to the area from New Braunfels, where he lives, the weekend of Sept. 23 to enjoy peace and solitude fishing with his son and his son's friend.
"I spent a lot of time Friday and Saturday thanking the Lord and being grateful," Marks said.
His Saturday morning fishing plans were thwarted by another creature of nature - an alligator.
A longtime wade fisher, Marks said he went to one of his go-to spots at the bay of Lighthouse Cove. He waded out from his boat and quickly noticed there were more holes than usual in the cove. Since it was deeper in some spots, Marks backed into waist-deep water toward the shoreline and started fishing in the grass. He said he does not throw live or dead bait and does not drag a bait bucket, and he did not have any fish on his stringer. Marks said he had just released a small trout when he felt something grab his right foot near his ankle. The alligator, which Marks could not see in the murky green water, began to shake Marks and attempted to drag him. He felt a deep bone pain.
"It felt like a vice on my foot, and it felt like my ankle was being crushed," Marks, 59, said.
The alligator held onto Marks' foot for about 10 seconds and released him. It then reached up his right leg and grabbed him around his calves and began shaking and pulling Marks.
Marks said he was pulled into shoulder-deep water before he was able to reach down and get his right hand into the creature's mouth and began pulling up on the jaw.
"That's when I realized what it was - I felt his head and his teeth when I put my hand in his mouth," Marks said.
The alligator released Marks after a few seconds. Marks did not call 911 and was able to receive first aid quickly from his son, who is an emergency medical technician, but later went to a hospital in Port Lavaca to check for an infection.
Jonathan Warner, the alligator program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said Marks' encounter with the alligator is a rare case.
"We think it is probably an animal that was displaced from all the flooding with Hurricane Harvey," Warner said.
Looking at the photos of Marks' puncture wounds, Warner estimates the alligator was between 6 to 7 feet long.
"I think it was an opportunist attack. I think it was one of those chance encounters that doesn't happen very often," Warner said.
This type of incident is classified as a nuisance alligator attack, which is when alligators have lost their fear of people and approach them. When that happens, a team will go out and capture the alligator.
Calhoun County Game Warden Jake McMahen said a crew has gone to the area to search for the alligator but has been unable to locate the animal.
"If you see one, stay away from them. They get aggressive when they have babies close to them," McMahen said. "Be aware of your surroundings."
Marks is now recovering from the bites and said he fully intends to return to Port O'Connor to wade fish when his leg and foot heal. He said he feels very blessed to have lived through the attack. He also is thankful that the alligator attacked him and not a child.
"God protected me that day," he said.