A young hunter from Islamorada, Florida, made a significant mark at the beginning of the state’s muzzleloader season earlier this month. During a morning’s hunt, Konnor Ross, a 21-year-old inshore fishing guide, managed to take down an 8-point buck and a massive 16-foot Burmese python.
Ross recounted to Field &Stream his encounter in South Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve. On his way to a secluded hunting spot, he noticed the huge python crossing his path.
“Even though it was 4 a.m. and I was barely awake, the size of that snake was unmistakable,” Ross shared. “I’ve tracked pythons for years, and this was the largest one I’ve encountered.” With assistance from a fellow hunter, Ross managed to subdue and kill the invasive snake, storing it in his cooler. He then continued his hunting journey.
Ross narrated, “After dropping off my friend at a deer stand, I headed to my designated spot in the wetlands. I rowed my canoe to my deer stand, and as dawn broke, the sound of the buck’s steps in the water drew nearer.”
Initially spotting the buck 150 yards away, Ross patiently waited. As the deer approached within 80 yards, Ross took his shot, striking it. Even after the first shot, the buck continued moving towards him. Ross reloaded his muzzleloader, shot again, and the deer fell just 30 yards from him.
Despite hunting on public land in Big Cypress for half a decade, this was only the second buck Ross had successfully hunted. He observed that the 2023 deer season was unusual due to the high water levels.
“Navigating the swamp with a canoe during muzzleloader season is typically challenging. But this year, higher water levels enabled me to approach deer in my canoe, especially as they were confined to the islands,” he explained.
Regarding the python, Ross gauged its weight to be around 120 pounds, with a length of 15 feet, 11 inches, excluding its head. If the head were included, it would surpass 16 feet. Ross speculated, “I believe it was a large female returning from a late nesting. It’s quite astonishing to encounter such a large snake, especially after a Python challenge was conducted in that area just a month prior.”