FLORIDA EVERGLADES (WSVN) — A group of python hunters found themselves in an epic battle against a colossal 17-foot snake, a showdown that will be etched in their memories forever.

Mike Elfenbein, accompanied by his 17-year-old son Cole, embarked on a python hunting trip they won’t soon forget.

“I think he’s still on cloud nine,” said Elfenbein about his son. “You’ll go 10 times and not catch anything and go one time and everything changes.”

Their encounter with the massive snake unfolded in Big Cypress National Preserve on Friday. What they thought was an alligator turned out to be a monstrous python, and the situation escalated when a stranger in another pickup truck attempted to grab the snake, only to be dragged toward a canal. The struggle to subdue the massive serpent ensued.

“That was when I realized it was either we do something now or this wasn’t going to end good,” Elfenbein recounted. “So I grabbed her by the head and my son had her by the tail. We stretched her out across the road and Carter, Holden, and Tray jumped on top of her to try to hold her down. She literally lifted us up the ground.”

It took the combined efforts of five individuals a grueling 45 minutes to wrestle the snake and three hours to get it safely into a truck.

The massive python, weighing a staggering 198 pounds and measuring 17 feet, two inches in length with a 23-inch girth, ranks as the second heaviest python ever found in Florida.

“There was deer hooves and deer bones inside of her,” Elfenbein. “I think the experts suggested that those hooves and bones have probably been there for two months. Of her 198 pounds, 29 pounds of it was pure fat. She was just massive, she was huge”

This jaw-dropping encounter strengthens Elfenbein’s belief in the importance of converting the area into a federally protected “wilderness designation” to curb the impact of these non-native predators on the ecosystem.

“It’s crazy to me, it’s counter intuitive and contradictory to the nature of conservation to propose restrictions that would prohibit the agencies and the public from being able to access places and provide the management and resources that we need to protect our wildlife.”

While Elfenbein is willing to share pictures of the incredible ordeal, he’s keeping the video of the snake takedown private, humorously noting, “There’s a lot of four-letter words in there.”

The snake in this encounter was only 17 pounds lighter than the heaviest python.

Elfenbein is planning on talking about his encounter during his trip in Washington D.C. where he will be speaking on behalf of the Izaak Walton League of America to talk about protecting the Everglades.

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