Bears aren’t the only predators in the woods. They’re not even the most worrisome. That distinction belongs to a blood-sucking, disease-carrying, micro-size monster that waits in ambush for passing prey while clinging to low-growing vegetation in fields and forests.
Yes, we’re talking ticks, a creepy relative of spiders and other members of the arachnid family. When the tick’s prey brushes by, it climbs aboard, sneaks to a good location, sinks its serrated teeth into the skin, and starts siphoning nutritious blood.
And if that doesn’t freak you out enough, some ticks carry scary diseases.
Lyme disease is the most well-known tick-borne disease, and it’s usually carried by black-legged ticks, aka deer ticks. Bites from Lyme-carrying ticks sometimes cause a bull’s-eye shaped rash, but symptoms vary.
Tick bites transfer several other diseases, too, such as babesiosis, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Although symptoms of tick-borne illnesses aren’t always obvious, it’s important to recognize them. You might notice a rash at the bite site, for example, and you might experience flu-like symptoms such as aches and fever.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick that might carry a disease, consult a doctor immediately. Quick treatment can limit the bite’s impact.
Keep Them Off
Bowhunters spend lots of time outdoors, which increases the chances of encountering ticks. However, we aren’t defenseless. We can decrease those chances with preventive measures.
To prevent hitchhiking ticks, avoid brush or tall grass when possible. Conduct a quick check for ticks before climbing back into your vehicle, and a more thorough inspection when reaching home. Be sure to check behind your knees and ears, as well as your armpits and upper arms, which are some of their favorite hiding places.
Before entering fields and woods, treat your clothing with DEET or Permethrin to repel ticks. These repellents are available at archery shops. Follow instructions on the bottle carefully, because these are strong chemicals.
Bowhunters must also be wary of ticks when handling animals their harvest. Ticks feeding on a host will migrate onto their next victim when sensing the animal died. Therefore, check for ticks after field dressing deer and other game animals.
How to Remove Ticks
When finding a tick on your person, remove it immediately. Ticks usually must remain attached one to two days to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. To remove a tick, grasp its head firmly with a tweezers, and pull it straight out with steady pressure. Don’t twist. Once it’s removed, swab the site with antiseptic.
Anytime you’re outdoors from spring through fall, keep your guard up. Ticks are everywhere, but don’t let these threats keep you from hunting. By using tick repellants and checking yourself regularly, you’ll remain tick-free and enjoy your time outdoors.