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Early Season Tick Prevention Preparation

Early Season Tick Prevention and Preparation

 Hunters and those of us who recreate outdoors frequently should be aware of Ticks, how to prevent yourself from getting bit, and why it’s important to take proper care of a tick bite. 

Many outdoor opportunities will bring us into contact with prime tick habitat as we ease into spring weather. Ticks prefer mild, moist areas with long grasses or leaf litter. Dead grass from the previous fall now moist from spring rains and snow melt are tick heaven. These grasses are most prevalent on south and east slopes where the sun warms the earth slightly more than than those north and west slopes. These areas are also where the “green up” happens. Consequently this is the same area most of us spend time searching for shed antlers, playing hide and seek with spring gobblers, and taking picture of wildlife. 

It’s important to know these areas are also home to the Ticks we try so hard to avoid. With transmitted diseases like Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Alpha Gal it serves us best to avoid getting bitten. Tick borne diseases can range from unpleasant all the way to fatal. Some have life long effects. While the symptoms can be treated most cases the incubation periods range from 1-30 days before the onset of symptoms making it harder to determine if you contracted a disease from the tick which had just bitten you. To complicate this even more you may be unaware you were even bitten to begin with. Not all ticks stay embedded, some ticks feed and drop away from the body after biting and feeding. 

To see more about specific diseases, treatments, and incubation periods follow this link to the CDC website. You can find up to date accurate information on all of the 90 or so types of Ticks in the United States, and the diseases they transmit. 

We prefer to avoid and deter all of the parasites, ticks, and bugs we can while in the field. Heres how we have managed to be successful doing it. 

- Treat all clothing, tents, and exterior of sleeping bags with Permethrin. If you want to see the studies behind its use click here

- Effective Permethrin Application.

- Do frequent Tick Checks on yourself and your partners

- For info on how to do a good Tick Check follow this link.

- Our expert field tip is to wear colors that allow you to identify ticks on your person easily when possible. We have found through our adventures solid colors that contrast Ticks make it easy to see them before they get into seams, clothing, and gear. Camouflage can make it difficult to spot ticks before they make it into gear and beneath layered clothing. 


Tick Types
Where found
Diseases transmitted

American dog tick
East of the Rocky Mountains and limited areas on the Pacific Coast
Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Blacklegged tick
Across the eastern U.S.
Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Powassan virus disease

Brown dog tick
Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Gulf Coast tick
Coastal areas of the US along the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of Mexico
Rickettsiosis (a form of spotted fever)

Lone star tick
Found widely across the southeastern and eastern US
Ehrlichiosis, Heartland virus, tularemia, STARI and alpha gal

Rocky Mountain spotted tick
Rocky Mountain states and southwestern Canada in elevations of 4,000' to 10,500'
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia

Western blacklegged tick
Along Pacific Coast
Anaplasmosis and Lyme disease
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

What do I do if I get bitten?

If you are bitten by a tick or suspect you have been bitten it is recommended you remove the tick as soon as possible and seek medical advice and attention. Never use gasoline, kerosene, petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, or matches to kill or drive a tick out once it has been embedded.

Tick removal and testing

The best method for removing ticks is to grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull up gently. One of the easiest commercial options we have found is over at Ticknology they have tick removal cards that are very effective and easy to carry into the field. About the size of a credit card and easy to store in a pack or wallet. They work on people, pets, or livestock and are re-usable. Ticknology also offers testing of your removed tick for around $25. If you are in need of a simple tick removal device check these out. 

At a minimum you should keep track of when and where you were bitten.

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Type of Tick (Take a good picture on your smart phone for identification later if you lose the tick)

Be tick aware and enjoy your spring adventures!