Python hunter left bleeding after fight with 17-footer
Hunter Mike Kimmel wrapped a cloth bag around his arm to stop the bleeding and tried to settle his breathing.
Alone, and deep in the Everglades, the state-contracted python hunter had just wrestled with an estimated 17-foot snake he found in a tangle of underbrush.
Kimmel, who said in an Instagram post that the invasive reptile probably weighed more than he does, grabbed the snake by the tail, underestimating its reach.
It bit him, sinking teeth deep into his arm.
“She got me son, I got her though,” Kimmel said in a Facebook video posted Monday that shows angry streams of blood oozing down is arm onto the coiled snake and soaking into his pants and shirt. “Damn, I’m leaking everywhere.”
Kimmel, who goes by the social media moniker Python Cowboy, won this year’s Florida Python Bowl after catching eight snakes during the tournament. He is also known for his work trapping and killing invasive green iguana, Egyptian geese and feral hogs.
But it’s the python that has made him a social media star with videos and photos showing him catching three pythons at once, and coming upon a python nest full of eggs - one of the most significant moments in Kimmel’s python hunting career, he said in an Instagram post.
“It has been my goal since day one of becoming a state contracted hunter, years ago, to find an active python nest,” he said of the morning find. “Only 22 eggs because she’s a smaller python, but I ain’t complaining. That’s 23 invasive predators removed before lunch.”
Kimmel is part of the South Florida Water Management’s python hunting program, which pays hunters by the hour and awards bonuses based on snake length.
Last fall, the Water Management District gave a big boost to the python program, upping the annual budget of $225,000 by $750,000 - an increase that includes doubling the number of district-sanctioned python hunters to 50.
The district supercharged its python program at the urging of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said he wanted a stronger assault against the Burmese python, including better coordination between state and federal agencies.