Amidst the tumult convulsing America, one Florida man continues to wage a war of a different kind.
Mike Kimmel, a contractor for South Florida’s python hunting program, is used to being on the frontline of the state’s struggle to rid its wetlands of the deadly invasive species.
But occasionally the hardy hunter, who won this year’s Florida Python Bowl after catching eight snakes during the tournament, finds himself tested to the limit by his slithering adversaries.
Kimmel was hunting alone deep in the Everglades on Monday when he laid eyes on a Burmese python he estimated to be a whopping 17 foot long and weighing roughly 150 pounds.
The “Python Cowboy,” as he is known on social media, reported that he came across the giant serpent at around 11 a.m.
“I could barely contain my excitement,” Kimmel said in an Instagram post. “She definitely was not afraid of me and started to slowly cruise through the vegetation as I carefully walked next to her trying to gauge exactly how large she was.”
However, the enormous python was not quite willing to go gentle into that good night.
Choosing what he called the “easiest and safest capture method,” Kimmel grabbed the snake by its head. But with a wild struggle now in full flow, the python began striking back at the hunter and dragging him into the tall grass.
Kimmel sustained a single “quite deep” bite on his bicep and forearm, “piercing an artery and hitting some nerves.”
“She got me son, I got her though,” he said in a Facebook video posted Monday that shows blood streaming down is arm onto the coiled snake and soaking into his pants and shirt. “Damn, I’m leaking everywhere.”
Kimmel was able to use a snake bag he’d brought along as a tourniquet to staunch the dangerous blood flow.
“I then had to drag all 150lbs of her alive, working to control my breathing so I didn’t pass out from blood loss and the extreme heat that day, I would have been screwed,” he added.
Kimmel managed to get the snake back to his boat, where he had a suppressed .22 pistol. Without proper bags big enough to transport the prodigious specimen live, he was forced to euthanize it immediately.
The South Florida Water Management District’s “Python Elimination Program” was set up three years ago to combat the detrimental impact the invasive species has had on the region’s native wildlife, as well as the danger it poses to humans.
Last fall, the program’s annual budget was tripled to $750,000, allowing it to double the number of district-sanctioned python hunters to 50.
“Python removal agents”, who receive a minimum wage hourly rate as well as bonuses by snake length, have eliminated some 2,727 pythons to date.