Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – A 13-foot Burmese python pulled from a family's pool near the Everglades is shown off to a crowd of reporters and onlookers. Last August, the largest recorded Burmese python was captured and killed. It was more than 17 feet long and was filled with nearly 90 eggs. Sixty-eight of the snakes were culled during the 2013 Python Challenge, which ended February 10.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Bob Pawlowski, from left, son Coby and friend Jimmy Harper of Fort Myers, Florida, hike a dirt road in the southeastern portion of the Everglades near Miami. First-time hunters have been directed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to stay along the levees, a system of roads and canals built in the park to control water flow.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – A former rodeo professional, "Alligator" Ron Bergeron is now a commissioner for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He owns more than 6,000 acres of pristine land in the Everglades and is one of the area's most successful businessmen.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Alligator Ron is a colorful character who has become somewhat of a cult hero in southern Florida. His family started the famous Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie, Florida. He also owns major land development, contracting, real estate and mining companies that employ more than 750 people in the state. Alligator Ron got his nickname after famously losing the tip of his finger in one of many alligator wrestling bouts. He drives through town in a gold-plated Hummer with "Alligator Ron" emblems on the side.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Blake Freeman, left, and Graham Rogers drove all the way from Kentucky to compete during the first weekend of the monthlong event. Both law school students, the pair admit they have no experience and are "bad afraid of snakes." They consulted Alligator Ron for advice before heading out into the Everglades tailed by a French film crew.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Reporters from as far away as France, England and China flocked to the kickoff of the 2013 Python Challenge at the University of Florida Fort Lauderdale campus in Davie, Florida. Members of the media seemed to outnumber hunters 2 to 1. Here, FWC officer Jorge Pinto is asked about the challenge.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Dave Leibman, 46, has hunted pythons all his life. His friends, co-workers and even his wife call him "Python Dave." But he has reservations about average Joes entering the Everglades to kill a species of snake that he "loves." When he captures a Burmese python, he brings it to the FWC to have it humanely euthanized.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Chris Wood's (far right) family business All American Gator offered participants an opportunity to turn their catches into just about anything, even pants. The pair held in this photo cost $3,000. The company is also offering to pay for snake hides and is offering a bonus prize for the biggest skins.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Coby Pawlowski surveys the land with a .22-caliber rifle on his shoulder. The 17-year-old is one of the youngest participants in the 2013 Python Challenge and is accompanied by his father Bob Pawlowski and his friend, 17-year-old Jimmy Harper.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – As of Wednesday, 11 Burmese pythons had been captured and killed by hunters in the 2013 Python Challenge. While the group I followed didn't see one, we did stumble across a 3-foot long water moccasin, one of several other dangerous species native to the Everglades.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – The 15.6-foot female Burmese Python was found by contractors for the state in a water conservation area just north of the Everglades National Park on Florida state land in October. The snake was brought to the National Parks Service for a necropsy. Researchers discovered a deer weighing more than 70 pounds inside it.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – The Pawlowskis and Jimmy Harper use machetes to cut away shrubs and sawgrass. They prod every hole they stumble across with sticks hoping to find a coiled Burmese python on the second day of the monthlong hunt.
Hunt a snake that can eat a deer? – Jimmy Harper wraps up Sunday's hunt with nothing to show for it, but he and the Pawlowskis say they'll be back at least five or six more times. Harper says his dad builds airboats as a hobby, and they may try their luck on the water next time.