I am a Professional Python Hunter and I am contracted by the South Florida Water Management District to capture and euthanize the invasive Burmese Pythons that are now the apex predators in South Florida.
There are only 100 of us in the world (15 women). I go out into the swamp, mostly at night, and capture these pythons (that can grow up to 20 feet long) by hand. Why do I do this? The short answer is that I have always had an obsessive fascination with snakes. Because I’m not afraid of pythons and I have years of experience with many species of snakes and reptiles, I figured that this was a great opportunity to use my passion to actually make a difference in the world.
It is definitely a double edge sword. I love these spectacular creatures and I hate that we have to euthanize them, but there is no other way. Read about the Invasive Python problem here. I have made it my mission to figure out how to use as much of the snake as possible so they don’t go to waste. As a deer hunter from the north, I always hunted for food. The thought of just killing an animal and not using it goes against my core values. They are not legal to sell for food and the meat is very chewy, so I don’t eat them, but I use the skin to make beautiful products. If they can’t live in our Everglades, at least their legacy can live on and continue to bring beauty to the world.
I have caught over 250 pythons, won 2nd place in the python bowl, have been featured on the news, podcasts, and magazine articles. I donate python hunts in auctions to raise money for quite a few charities, and to date have raised $50,000. I figured out how to skin and tan the pythons...a compilation of comedic trial and error that could be a hysterical mini series. I have partnered with Bswanky, who designs and manufactures the most stunning luxury handbags and uses Florida Burmese Python for her python line. I have my own product line of bracelets and Apple watch bands. I have to say, I feel pretty good about how far I have come in a relatively short amount of time. There is much more to do though, and this is only the beginning!
More to the story….(or behind the scenes)
A lot of people, including my friends, think I’m crazy for a few different reasons. The main reason is because I enjoy the challenge of capturing giant pythons (my personal best is 17’3 110lbs). It’s also because after 13 years as a successful Real Estate broker in Indiana, I dropped everything and moved to Florida to figure out how to be hired as a python hunter.
Here’s how it happened...
When I learned that there was a python problem in Florida, I scheduled a 3 week vacation with my boyfriend Dave to check it out. After asking around about where to catch a python, I was connected with professional hunter, Donna Kalil, and she took us on a hunt. We caught a beautiful 9 foot python. It was absolutely the best day ever! I was totally hooked. We went back to Indiana (it was -30 with the wind chill) and I told Dave that I had to move to Florida to figure out how to become a python hunter. There was literally nothing I could do from Indiana to build my python hunting resume. He said he knew before I did that we would be moving, but he had a business to run in Indiana and he would be down as soon as he could. Less than two months after we came back from that vacation, I moved to Miami by myself. I had no job, no idea about how to be hired (the government was on a freeze so no one was working), and I knew no one. I rented a room from some guy and I had to share a bathroom with his dad. Yeah. On paper it’s ridiculous. In my heart I somehow knew it was what I needed to do. I was more sure of that than anything in my life. It was the best decision I have ever made and I am so grateful everyday that I trusted my intuition, and took that crazy leap.
This has been a crazy adventure so far! I'm sure there is plenty more in store for me!