ATOKA, Oklahoma - Noodling is growing in popularity, but it comes with some dangers. A southern Oklahoma man found that out the hard way and has a safety warning for others.

Over the past few years, Destry Mitchell, from Atoka, has really gotten into noodling. It's been a whole lot of fun pulling out giant fish, until about a week ago.

"I put my hand on top of a rock and I guess that snake was on the other side of the rock, and he saw my hand and just attacked it," Mitchell said.

In a split second, a three and a half-foot-long cottonmouth sank its fangs into Mitchell's finger.

"Honestly, probably the scaredest I've been in my life," he said.

Friends rushed him to the hospital. An ambulance took him from Atoka to Ada. It was so bad, he was rushed to Oklahoma City.

"It was just a constant throb, like your heart beating in your hand, like somebody just hitting you over and over again with a hammer on your hand," Mitchell said.

Within 24 hours, two small bite marks turned into a horrible situation, putting him in intensive care.

"It was the size of a softball, just unbelievably huge," Mitchell said.

He ended up getting 14 doses of anti-venom and spent nearly a week in the hospital.

"I thought I was going to lose my hand," Mitchell said.

And doctors say he's lucky he isn't losing his hand. They say he'll likely be able to use his finger again, but may never have feeling in it.

He's on antibiotics to fight infection and medicine for the pain.

"I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ, and I had full faith in him, which is what got me through, pretty much," Mitchell said.

Mitchell isn't sure if he'll noodle again, but he said he might.

He has a warning for others who enjoy the sport: "Make sure to be careful."