INDIANTOWN, Fla. — It’s a grueling ten-day challenge with a significant goal in mind, to protect the Florida Everglades.
The Python Challenge is held nearly every year and gives competitors, both novice and advanced, a chance to capture the invasive species.
“It definitely wasn't easy,” said Mike Kimmel, Indiantown resident, and 2020 Python Challenge winner. “I slept out in the swamp for the whole 10 days, sleeping in my truck, hunting all day and night.”
Kimmel, also known as the Python Cowboy, competed for the first time in 2020 and runs a local animal trapping company in Martin County.
“I was able to capture 8 pythons in 10 days,” said Kimmel. “They're very good at camouflaging and you could step on one without even knowing it's there and if it's a big 16, 17 footer, you might find yourself in a bad situation.”
Kimmel said he’s not sure the invasive snakes will ever be wiped out but that progress is being made.
“Just this past 3-4 years, with state contractors and the general public really hunting pythons hard, we are starting to see some native wildlife make a rebound,” said Kimmel.
Whoever captures the most pythons this year will be declared the winner and receive a $10,000 prize.
“Python hunting is all about dedication,” said Kimmel. “It's hitting it nonstop. I'll be out there 12-14 hours all night, starting at the ground. I might not find one but be sure I'm gonna be there the next night hunting again.”