'I'd given up:' Man who survived in outback by eating ants recounts ordeal

Story highlights

  • "I didn't think anyone was going to find me," Reg Foggerdy tells Australian TV
  • The 62-year-old grandfather says the ants he ate to stay alive "tasted quite good"
  • He hasn't ruled out going back to the area to look for his gun he left in the bush

(CNN)A grandfather who ate ants to survive while lost for six days without water in the Australian outback says he thought he was going to die out in the wilderness.

Reg Foggerdy, 62, was on a hunting trip with his brother last month in the Great Victoria Desert in Western Australia when he set off in pursuit of a camel he'd shot.
    "I followed this camel into the bush. I'd gone at least 30K, I didn't know where I was," he told CNN affiliate Seven Network, recounting his errant 19-mile wander and the extraordinary tale of survival that followed.
    Foggerdy found himself alone with only the shorts, T-shirt, flip-flops and hat he was wearing. He had a valuable source of food right in front of him -- the dead camel he'd chased down -- but no means with which to eat it.
    "I didn't have a knife, and I didn't have matches for a fire," he said. "So I couldn't go and cut a steak off the animal because I had no way to cook it and had no way to cut it."

    Ants 'tasted quite good'

    A diabetic who'd had a heart attack earlier this year, Foggerdy also lacked water in a vast, dry region, more than 100 miles from the nearest town.
    In his plight, he turned to ants for nutrients, an idea he remembered from watching the TV shows of British survival expert Bear Grylls.
    "They tasted quite good. The first day, I ate probably 12 ants -- and the following day, I had 18," Foggerdy said.
    But as time passed, his hopes of making it out of the outback alive began to fade. He saw search helicopters passing overhead, but they didn't notice him amid the trees where he was seeking shelter from the blistering heat of the sun.
    "I didn't think anyone was going to find me, and I'd given up," he told Seven Network.
    Reg hugs his son.
    By the sixth day, his organs had started to shut down. He had said his last goodbyes in his head and expected death to come soon.
    "I was at peace with myself," he said, wiping away a tear as he remembered the thought of his family seeing his body lying on the dirt beneath the tree.

    'I might go back and look for my gun'

    But as Foggerdy prepared for the end, searchers were hot on his trail after an Aboriginal tracker spotted one of his footprints in the dirt.
    "When I opened my eyes and seen them, I was so happy," Foggerdy recalled. Police said he was "extremely dehydrated" and "a bit delusional" when they found him. He was airlifted to safety and spent the next few days recovering in hospital.
    The grandfather says he thinks he was lucky, not tough.
    "I've heard of people dying after three days with no water," he told Seven News. "I don't know why I survived six days."
    Reg Foggerdy with his brother Ray.
    Foggerdy says he doesn't mind if people want to call him "Ant Man" after his survival methods.
    And he hasn't ruled out returning to the scene of his brush with death.
    "I might go back and look for my gun," he said. "It's still in the shrub."