Python hunter shows off latest catches in Everglades

Dusty Crum hopes to capture 16-foot python

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – A python hunter hired by the South Florida Water Management District is known as a wild man and he has the wounds to prove it.

"I'm a snake catcher. I catch everything live and bare-handed," Dusty Crum said. "I actually got a little tooth stuck in my finger. I thought it was a splinter and it ended up being a python tooth, so that was kind of different."

But that hasn't stopped Crum from pursuing his passion.

"What I'm trying to do is stand up for the small mammals. The otters, the rabbits, that sort of thing. They're going to lose every time," Crum said.

Crum showed off the results of his latest adventure Tuesday in Homestead -- two Burmese pythons that were captured and euthanized in the Everglades. 

The biggest of the two was a female python that stretched more than 14 feet and weighed as much as three car tires.

"Seventy pounds of pure muscle right there," Crum said.

Crum is part of a select group of 25 hunters who were recently chosen to participate in a pilot program by the South Florida Water Management District.

"The bounty for the snakes is $50 for a snake that's 4 feet and $25 per foot for every foot after the initial four," South Florida Water Management District spokesman Randy Smith said.

In addition to the incentives, the water district program will pay each hunter the state's minimum wage of $8.10 cents an hour. 

The hunters have already captured 50 pythons in the Everglades since the end of March.

But for Crum, there's still some unfinished business.

"I'm looking for that 16-footer. She's out there somewhere waiting for me," he said.

The program is expected to last until June.

Crum said he plans to take the snakes to a tanner and make something out of the skin.