Hunters! It’s Deer Tick Protection Time

deerticks2There is this nasty pest of a disease called Lyme. This is becoming a breakout year for deer tick numbers in the northeast, especially New York, and the infested percentage of deer ticks with Lyme is increasing rapidly. Be cautious, here is more about what to know and what to do.

Beautiful and majestic deer are a joy to watch, though any size deer could be a deer tick infested Lyme disease carrier. Forrest Fisher Photo

Hunters, hikers, campers, bird watchers, dog walkers and everyone else, please listen up and heed this friendly outdoor notice of information to be safe while you are outdoors.

For most hunters, it would be unusual to say you have never been bitten by a tick – many of us don’t even know we have. If you have hunted long hours in the last few decades, you have probably been bit or have picked off a blood-sucking tick that was burrowing into your body somewhere and without prior knowledge, thought it was a pesky, tiny, black fly because you had blood there when you finished. It was possibly a tick.

Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis, all related sorts of really nasty long word disease stuff, and even dog ticks (these are much larger than deer ticks) can carry Rocky Mountain Spotted fever and other disease.

Yes, it’s scary. We all go outdoors, but if we are educated and aware, we do at least know more about things. That’s the key, to be aware. So read on and please be sure to go protected from deer ticks. It’s not advice, this is simply a request to intelligent outdoor folks, especially deer hunters – archery season is open in many parts of the USA, to coat their camo, outerwear and gear with a spray coat of Permethrin (Sawyer Products) the day before heading out, then let it dry ( This applies to everyone who may go outdoors anywhere in WNY, not just hunters. The coating on your clothes will last for about six or seven washings.

This coating will help protect you from the nearly invisible (very tiny) crawling anthropods (like a spider) and reduce the likelihood of you becoming bit – it is a painless bite, you may never know you were bit. The protective clothing spray will potentially prevent you from being stricken with serious Lyme disease and never finding out you have it until after the disease is imbedded in your system. This simple spray product is only about $12-$14 in most local stores. Do it and be safe.

The deer ticks are spread by mice, but the mice also drop them off on deer when they bed, so deer can have them too – hence the name, deer ticks. Dogs, cats, squirrels, chipmunks, birds – all warm blooded creatures can carry the ticks too.  So can your wood pile! You might find nests of deer ticks from mice in your wood pile, be observant, you can see them visually.

Dogs and cats are the number one carrier of ticks from the outdoors to inside your home and to you, so extra caution is required if you have a pet. Pets (mostly dogs) are the number one reason for people bitten by deer ticks inside their home (and never finding out until years later).

deerticks3If you are a lucky hunter, maybe you don’t believe me and want to see how many ticks your harvested deer is carrying. Drop a patch of dry ice on the floor after you hang your deer. The ticks will fall out like ball bearings. You’ll be impressed and hopefully encouraged to protect yourself.

The ticks find us humans by detecting our carbon dioxide output when we breathe, since they cannot see or hear. The dry ice is made of carbon dioxide, as it evaporates, they sense it and seek it. Be sure to shower thoroughly after field dressing your fresh deer. Lyme disease is a killer when it is not noticed because these are really small bugs and “they can’t hurt me” thoughts are common among us big, small and husky hunters.

Adult deer ticks are most prevalent from October through December seeking a final blood meal before hibernating for the winter. Hunters beware.

If you’re out at hunting camp and there are no showers, strip down and inspect yourself for ticks. You must do this to be sure. Look very carefully at your armpits, groin, the nape of your neck and back of your knees. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers and save it for your doctor. Then see your doctor, pronto.

deerticks4If you are bit and can see the burrowed, blood-sucking tick in you, or see a circular rash that can result for every one of three folks that are bitten, get to a doctor and demand 30 days of Doxycycline antibiotic (the same treatment used to treat Bubonic Plague). Do not wait for the blood test results, if you do, it’ll likely be too late to kill it and, once established, Lyme disease is a life-long affliction that you can only hope to put into remission later. That can be tough. That is, if you survive the unending flu symptoms, brain fog, arthritis symptoms, paralyzing fibromyalgia, organ and bone pain, testicular pain and dozens of other possible Lyme disease effects that doctors in New York and elsewhere admit they do not understand well. Most insurance plans pay for only 8 days of “doxy”, you may have to pay for the rest.

Early diagnosis and immediate treatment are key to controlling this disease. Depending on your type of system, we are all unique in many ways, even late treatments of “doxy” can cure the affliction, but most folks that learn about the disease they have contracted weeks and months and years later, can only hope for remission.

Trust me when I share with you that these insidious little bugs can bring all of us to our knees and our end of life as we know it. Be cautious, go protected. Get the Permethrin for your clothes and another product, Picaridin, for your exposed skin. These products not only repel the ticks, they kill them upon contact. This applies to just sitting in your tree stand, hiking the field trails or woods, and the rest of things we and friends all do outside too, that includes fishing from a boat.

Take it from someone who has learned the best about surviving this affliction from the worst form of experience. Be aware, be protected and be safe. It’s a start to staying healthy because most of us love the outdoors, play and sleep in the outdoors and want to do it for all time.

The Permethrin clothing spray is odorless for concerns from archery hunters (not all tick protection spray is odorless). If you are going outdoors hunting or just going outdoors, just do the spray your clothes thing. Just do it and rest easy.

Deer tick sign notices with Lyme disease warnings are posted in many areas these days. The signs are there for good reason, to help you be aware and help you understand that you need to protect yourself from this invasive little critter we now know as the deer tick. Now you know how!

Lastly, during autumn each year, mosquitoes and black flies can be plentiful too, and they are a distracting bother if you hunt much. To prevent flying critter disturbance, clip on a Thermacell unit to your backpack or camo layer ( The scent emitted from this device is from a flower that is also an attractant to deer (chrysanthemums), but flying insects hate it and won’t come near it. Go figure. Cost is only about $20 and these units last for many years.

Share life with others, make new friends in the outdoors, lead by example. Please email me with any questions at