As part of my bow elk hunt conditioning I take long walks through fields and forest. The uneven terrain, log crossings and busting through brush slows me down but actually helps condition my body to the riggers of an elk hunt. However, even such simple conditioning efforts come with risks. Ticks! Specifically Deer ticks!
I was reminded of this truth this week after coming in from my three mile hike to find one of these creepy crawly critters working his way up the back of my neck to my hairline, which seems to be where ticks like to hide. In eighteen years of hiking these paths and trails near my house this is the first tick I picked up. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised. I was even more surprised when the following day I had another occurrence of this untimely visitor.
Now this is not the first time I have found a tick or two as a result of my wanderings, but this reminds me to stay vigilant. No, I will not stop my daily treks through the forest, but I will be very conscience of the need to have my wife check me for ticks, which by-the-way is not nearly as fun as me checking her for ticks!
Deer ticks, Ixodes scapularis, are a known carrier of Lyme Disease. Not all Deer Ticks will carry the bacteria, but there is a strong possibility that they will. Lyme Disease is readily curable with early detection and anti-biotics, but left untreated can cause many very serious health issues.
I have found attached Ticks feeding on me in the past. I have always known to look fore evidence of Lyme, a bullseye rash that develops around the area of the invasion. Even though the bullseye rash is a dead giveaway of Lyme Disease, the bullseye rash is not always apparent. I have even contracted Lyme Disease, but was able to get treated right away.
There are no sure ways to protect yourself against picking up these untimely visitors, but a generous dose of Deet insect repellant applied at your pant legs, socks and exposed arms will help. When you do find one of these parasites it is imperative that you address their visitation in a timely manner. Carefully remove the tick, making sure you get it all, and watch for that bullseye rash. If one develops or any rash develops, go see a doctor right away.
If you are a hunter, hiker or just a person who likes to walk in the fields and forests, take time to watch out for these little pests, and know what to do when you find one.