Atoka man dives back into "noodling" after near death experience

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ATOKA COUNTY, OK -- June 27th marked one year since an Atoka man nearly died after being bitten by a venomous snake while noodling, or hand-fishing. Despite his near-death experience he is diving back into the sport. News 12 caught up with him Friday afternoon to find out why he is getting back into the water.
We do want to warn you some of the images in this story are graphic.

Just a year after coming face-to-face with death 21 year old Destry Mitchell is diving, head first, back into the sport that almost cost him his life. On June 27th 2013 Mitchell was noodling with friends on McGee Creek Lake when he was bitten by a cottonmouth.

"As soon as it bit me it just felt like glass in my hand and just somebody beat me with a hammer," Mitchell said.

When Mitchell ended up in ICU at OU Medical Center, he then realized the severity of the bite.

"They started talking about cutting my hand off, cutting my arm off, and even death," Mitchell said. "I was sitting there in that bed, you know, I was like Lord you know you put me on this earth for a reason. I said my life is yours. I said you do what you think is best, you know, I kept on praying and praying and praying."

His prayers were answered. After 14 vials of anti-venom Mitchell made it out of the hospital with all his limbs.

Due to the dangers and fear of decreasing the catfish population noodling is only legal in 15 states and Oklahoma is one of them.

Although Mitchell is now well aware of the dangers of noodling he says he does not believe in giving up something you love.

"Right after that happened I honestly wanted to get back in the water, but I didn't want to tell nobody because people would think I was an idiot, but it's something I enjoy and I knew that I was going to do it again," Mitchell said.

"I thought maybe he learned a lesson and he wasn't going to do it anymore," Tamara Edwards, Mitchell's mother, said.

While it might not make his mom happy Mitchell says the experience did teach him one thing.

"I'm a lot more cautious. I'm always looking around me," Mitchell said.