A hunter from Merritt Island, Fla., almost drowned after falling down a well Saturday morning. Christopher Johnson, 28, was night-hunting rabbits on the island when he fell around 1:30 a.m., reports the Daily News.

He crashed through plywood boards covering the well and tumbled down the shaft. He spent the next eight hours trying to stay afloat in 12 feet of cold water.

Johnson had to tread water and brace himself against the wall to keep from drowning. No one heard his cries for help until mid-morning, when Navy veteran Jerry Watkins thought he heard someone in distress while walking his dog. Watkins considered leaving to get his truck, but called 911 instead.

Authorities received his call around 10 a.m., and arrived on the scene shortly after. They lowered a rope and ladder into the well; Johnson tied the rope around his torso and climbed out unharmed.

Johnson said he’s been hunting the area his entire life, and thought the well used to be covered in concrete. Rabbit hunting at night in Florida is legal with a gun and light permit, as long as the hunter is on private land.