The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 16, 2013

In the Everglades, hunters help check a slithery invader


It was exactly what Ramirez and Brana were hoping for as they sweated in the wild.

Brana and Ramirez wanted to prove that their outfit, Florida Python Hunters, a snake removal business, is an expert at harvesting snakes.

But on the Thursday before the end of the challenge, after five hours in the field, they were driving home empty-handed. As the raggedy Ford eased down a gravel road, Ramirez's wife, Michelle, called on a cellphone. "Did you catch anything?"

"No, nothing today. You know how hard it is," Ramirez said, exhausted after searching the edge of canals where wild alligators sunned on the banks, stepping in black muck that pulled at him like ankle weights, and pushing through brush with thorns that slapped his face. "It's not easy."

In the middle of the word "easy," Ramirez slammed the brakes and the phone flew. "Python!" he shouted.

A nine-foot snake was slithering down a stone levee toward a canal. Ramirez and Brana bolted from the truck. Weirdly, pythons usually don't move until someone reaches for them, so the guys stood for a minute taking photos.

When Ramirez got a little too close, the snake made a lightning U-turn toward woods. But Ramirez grabbed it by the tail, dragged it onto the road, stuck his tongue out, and threw up a victory sign.

"What I tell you, bro?" he shouted, gripping the python's head with one hand, high-fiving Brana with the other. "We're the best!"

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