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Python Challenge 2022

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I appreciate each of you who’ve reached out to me over my issue with Lyme Disease. Now, I suppose I’ll offer an update to anyone still curious; I’m much better. The doctor loaded me up with antibiotics and all of the symptoms are clearing up enough that I’m back out in the field and doing a bit of scouting to locate where the big velvet antlered bucks are hanging out. I’m on the hunt for a special tortoise as well.

That’s right, Sheila from Springhill has had a yellow-footed tortoise escape her property and disappear into some nearby wilderness. I’m hoping to cross paths with it as I’m not overly fond of the impact invasive species have had on our native ecosystems. And it would seem that our fine Governor, Ron Desantis, shares my distaste for invasives as he has recently announced that he will be again hosting a python challenge in South Florida.

Governor Desantis’s 2022 Python Challenge, is a hunt intended to invite the general public to participate in the removal of the invasive apex predators. The Burmese pythons, native to Southeast Asia, have been wreaking havoc upon our native wildlife throughout Florida and are continuing to increase in numbers and spreading to all parts of our state. Our Governor hopes that by organizing the hunt, he can bring awareness to the issue and earn greater year-round support for the efforts to stop the spread of the pythons.

Beginning on August 5 and running until August 14, hunters are encouraged to capture and turn in as many pythons as possible, vying for thousands in cash and prizes. I’ve signed up again this year with my snake hunting partner Ariel Dixon, to hopefully cash in on a few of the big snakes. The Burmese pythons can grow in excess of twenty feet in length and weigh up to three hundred pounds. The largest I’ve assisted in capturing to date has only been a fourteen-footer that greatly impressed me with its strength. As constrictors, the pythons are pure muscle and it takes quite an effort to wrestle one into submission.

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Now that I’m on the mend from my tick encounter, I’m feeling ornery enough to actually look forward to this year’s competition. We’ll be primitively camping deep into the Big Cypress Preserve portion of the Everglades and will conduct most of our hunt on foot, mornings and evenings along the water’s edges, peak times when they will be active and on the hunt. The same as the times I’ll be most active in search of Miss Sheila’s prize tortoise, this will have to serve as a warmup for my trip south to hunt the bigger and more dangerous invasives. If anybody in the Springhill area should find a tortoise, which has a much darker, multicolored shell, unlike our native gopher tortoises, please shoot me an e-mail or call the Hernando Sun and leave me a message.

I surely thank you for reading along with me each week and as always, if you have any feedback, give me a shout at [email protected]. God Bless and good hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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