Congratulations to our 2021 winners!
Which 2021 Florida Python Challenge® contestant has competed in all four events? Which participant is a school teacher looking forward to taking a python skin to his students? Check out each tab to find out more about our top Python Challenge winners. It takes a special kind of conservationist to traipse through the wilderness to catch these nonnative invasive constrictors, and we appreciate each and every one of the 600+ contestants!
Meet the winners!
Ultimate Grand Prize $10,000
Number of pythons: 41
Most Pythons Grand Prize $2,500
Professional: Donna Kalil, 19 pythons
Novices: Juan Gonzalez, 8 pythons
Tom Hobbs, 6 pythons
Most Pythons Second Place Prize $750
Professional: Kurt Cox, 15 pythons
Novice: Derek Reynolds, 2 pythons
Most Pythons Military/Veteran $500
Barry Offenburger, 5 pythons
Longest Python Grand Prize $1,500
Professional: Dusty Crum, 15 feet, 5 inches
Novice: Brandon Call, 15 feet, 9 inches
Longest Python Second Place Prize $750
Professional: Myron Looker, 12 feet, 4.5 inches
Novice: Shawn Allen, 13 feet, 8 inches
Longest Python Military/Veteran $500
Tom Aycock, 5 feet, 5 inches
Novice: Removed a total of 41 Burmese pythons
Charlie won big this year, walking away with the $10,000 Ultimate Grand Prize! He removed the most pythons overall, locating two separate hatching nests. One of the nests was documented as one of the most northern python nests ever found in South Florida. Removing so many recently-hatched pythons from the wild is a great conservation success because it prevents them from dispersing, mating and causing further impacts to our native wildlife.
Professional: Removed a total of 19 Burmese pythons
Donna is one of the original people hired by the state of Florida to remove pythons is a paid python hunter for the South Florida Water Management District’s Python Elimination Program. She is known for trying to make sure all parts of the carcass are used by her or other contractors, including the skins that are made into all sorts of leather products like keychains, belts, hats, jewelry boxes, and even face masks!
Novice: Removed a total of 8 Burmese pythons
Born and raised in Miami Florida, Juan Gonzalez had a passion for exotic reptiles since he was young. He is a taxidermist and has worked on several exotic species including Burmese pythons. For him, participating in the Python Challenge was not about winning any prize money but about helping preserve the Everglades.
Novice: Removed a total of 6 Burmese pythons
Tom travels from Tennessee to South Florida to participate in the Python Challenge each year. He has competed in every Python Challenge event, but this time is the first he has walked away with a prize! Three generations of the Hobbs family were present for the competition this year since Tom was accompanied by his son and grandson.
Novice: Removed 15-foot, 9-inch Burmese python
Brandon is a science teacher who works for Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. He participated in the 2021 Florida Python Challenge® to help protect the ecosystem and because he wanted to bring back a python skin for his students to see. He said his deaf students learn best with hands-on lessons, so a python skin would help them understand the impacts caused by this invasive species. After a hard-fought battle in the dark, the deaf schoolteacher successfully captured and removed the massive Burmese python that won him the prize, having caught not only the longest python in the novice category but the longest overall in the challenge.
Professional: Removed 15-foot 5-inch Burmese python
Dusty is a paid python hunter serving on the South Florida Water Management District's Python Elimination Program with a personality as big as the python he caught. He’s been removing invasive species for years and he’s known for roaming the Everglades garnering a great deal of media attention for his efforts including appearances on the Discovery Channel.
Active-Duty Military/Veteran: Removed 5 Burmese pythons
Barry is a paid python hunter and has participated in multiple Python Challenges. Barry served in the United States Army, and we are proud that he now serves on the South Florida Water Management District’s Python Elimination Program!
Active-Duty Military/Veteran: Removed 5-foot 6-inch Burmese python
Tom is a paid python hunter and a member of the Swamp Apes – a group dedicated to serving veterans through serving the wilderness. Tom served in the United States Army and we are proud to call him a member of the FWC’s Python Action Team!
Python Removal Competition
The Florida Python Challenge® features a Burmese python removal competition, with the goal of empowering people to take an active role in conserving the Florida Everglades through invasive species removal.
The Florida Python Challenge® will begin at 8 a.m. on Friday, July 9, 2021, and continue through 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 18, 2021. Competitors will be able to remove Burmese pythons from participating areas. Only Burmese pythons removed from these areas will be considered as valid entries in the competition.
For the Florida Python Challenge® participants can register as a Novice or Professional. Professionals include experienced people paid by the host agencies to remove pythons from the Everglades. Anyone not fitting this description can register for the Novice category. For both categories, there will be prizes awarded for the most and longest pythons. Additional awards will be provided for veterans and active members of our armed services!