Fresh from the Everglades, Dusty Crum, known in these parts as Wildman, had an above average day of python hunting on Thursday.
He was dressed just as WPTV met him on a hot summer night hunt last year -- barefooted in shorts and a tank top.
Then, we caught a 9 footer.
“This cold weather has got the Wildman frisky,” he said in an interview. “They’re like me and you, they want to come get some of that sunshine in the morning. That’s what we did today, we went out from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and we got three snakes.”
The strategy over the summer was a night hunt, in the winter, it’s a morning hunt. The cold water temperature is bringing the cold-blooded reptiles out of the water and into the sun to warm.
“Learn how the snake acts and reacts to weather. We use that to our advantage,” he says.
Since the South Florida Water Management District pay per hour and python program launched in late March, 2017, with Wildman’s three snakes today, 822 have been taken out of the Everglades.
“I’m just really blessed and happy to be apart of the team. We’re going to keep putting a dent in the population one at a time,” he said.
The hunt has also led to a side business for Wildman. He turns some of the snake skins into accessories, like wallets and purses.
Pythons are an invasive species that started showing up in South Florida in the 1990’s, potentially after owners decided they no longer wanted the python as a pet and dumped them. It’s also possible they escaped from destroyed pet store and sanctuaries after Hurricane Andrew swept through in 1992.