02/13/2014 06:39 EST | Updated 04/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Hunter who shot himself in the face tells story of survival

An experienced hunter from Shelburne County is telling his story after shooting himself in the face and barely coming back alive from a recent hunting trip on Nova Scotia's South Shore.

Phillip Williams ventured out solo from his Rockland home on Dec. 14, armed with a shotgun to hunt goose and duck.

He returned home forever changed. He lost his left hand, he's blind in one eye and the shot blew out 13 of his teeth.

On that December day, he settled into a duck blind, and spotted his first bird.

He stood up to get a better look and slipped on the ice. Then his shotgun went off.

Everything went black.

'"I was on the ground and I couldn't see out of either eye and I had no hearing in my left side," he told the CBC's Stephanie Domet.

"Then I reached up and touched my face and I could tell it was mangled."

Williams said it was starting to get dark and he wanted to get home before his wife would start to worry.

Despite his injuries — he would later learn the shot went through his hand and into his face — Williams found it in himself to get up and find help.

"Even though I was blind, I just continued walking," he said.

"Then I saw something squirt out past my leg and I said, 'What was that?' I looked down and it was blood squirting out of my hand. I looked at my hand and it was completely a mess.

"I automatically thought, 'I got to get it above my heart to try to slow the bleeding down.'"

Home was too far away

Williams kept walking. Home was too far away, but he managed to walk about 2.5 kilometres to a neighbour's house.
It was locked, so Williams kicked the door in and called his wife.

"I burst out and said, 'I shot my face.' She sort of lost it, and then she called 911," he said.

Williams left the house and help arrived soon after.

"Luckily for me, the first responder guy was at the head of the road plowing out the dry hydrant," Williams recalled.

"He came down the road not knowing where he was going, just looking, and he saw me in the field staggering around."

Williams was flown to a hospital in Halifax by a LifeFlight helicopter.

He said police officers who looked at his gun after the accident told him the safety on his shotgun was on. Williams believes the gun malfunctioned.

Despite his injuries, Williams has a positive outlook on life and has already returned to work.

He has a simple message for hunters: "Never carry a loaded gun."