Summer of Snakes and Ticks!

DSC03313

The other day I told you that after the mild winter of 2016, many entomologists have predicted a longer and more severe tick season this summer. From some of the responses I got from that post on social media, it appears the experts were right.

People from Connecticut (heart of Lyme disease country) to Mississippi to Texas reported that ticks are bad and thick. Jeff from Kentucky told me, “Worse tick season I’ve ever seen in Kentucky, and I’ve see some bad ones. Stand in the grass one minute and you’ll pull off 20 of them!”

The short, mild winter can also be blamed for an increase of another critter we love to hate, snakes! For example, snake bites in Georgia are up 40 percent this year, and South Carolina is reporting a 30 percent increase. North Carolina has seen a notable spike in bites.

I tell you this because July 4th weekend is the unofficial beginning of deer season 2017. It’s hot out, but our minds are starting to turn toward cooler October days and what they might bring. This weekend, in between flying the flag and celebrating America with family and friends, many of us will slip away to the woods to set out more minerals, hang trail cameras, or just look around and dream.

Remember those ticks and snakes crawling out there and take precautions!

boots tick

The best thing you can do is to wear knee-high boots, which protect against both snakes and ticks. From July to September, I NEVER go into the woods without tall boots. These will alleviate 90% of potential problems.

Spray your clothes with Permethrin, use Deet and remember these tips to protect from ticks.

On to snakes, which I totally hate. About 30 percent of snakebites are “dry,” meaning no venom is injected. Some 7,500 venomous snakebites are reported each year in the U.S, but only about 5 people a year die, thanks to anti-venom.

Obviously look around and be careful where you step. Before pouring out minerals and setting cameras, when your arms and hands are lower to the ground, look close and make sure the coast is clear of snakes.

Your snake boots will protect you 99% of the time. But if on the off-chance bitten you’re bitten, get to a clinic or doctor fast as you can. Try to remember the size and color pattern of the snake that bit you. If you think or know that the snake was venomous, call 911.

I am so damn scared of snakes that if I get bit, I’ll probably have a heart attack and be down and done. But you should remember these snake-bite tips from the Mayo Clinic:

–While waiting for medical help, remain calm and move beyond the snake’s striking distance.

–Remove jewelry and tight clothing before you start to swell.

–Position yourself, if possible, so that the bite is at or below the level of your heart.

–Clean the wound, but don’t flush it with water. Cover it with a clean, dry dressing.

–Caution! Don’t use a tourniquet or apply ice. Don’t cut the wound or attempt to remove the venom.

On a brighter note, enjoy the woods this weekend and have a great 4th!

Summer Deer How-To: Make a Mock Scrape

mock scrape summer

Go to your hunting woods right now and make a couple of stinky scrapes and hang trail cameras near them. Several studies have shown that whitetail bucks will hit scrapes with fresh scent year-round, and noticeably in the summer months. The fake scrapes are great places to get images of bucks that will roam your area this fall.

Here’s how Wisconsin hunter and friend of BIG DEER Kim Redburn, who is a big fan of summer scrapes, makes them. The picture above is good proof from one of Kim’s mock scrapes.

A mock scrape is not only scent-based, but also visual. Rake out at least a 2 foot by 3 foot area below an overhanging branch.  As you rake, envision a buck. He scrapes with his hooves primarily in one direction, and your raking should be done the same way, leaving the debris on the back side of the scrape.

Make your scrape directly below a prominent “lick” branch that bucks will most definitely rub with their eyes and racks, and chew on. The branch should be approximately 4 feet high–never touch it!

scrape dripper

Use this Wildlife Research dripper system with a scrape solution. Note: Do not use doe in heat or an estrus scent in the summer!

While any dirt will do, the best long-term mock scrapes where you set cameras to get buck pictures year after year have soils with real deer scent in them. Once you create a mock scrape in a spot you like this summer, make it a point to collect urine-soaked soil and droppings from real scrapes later this fall. Rake an existing scrape down to bare soil and trowel 3 to 5 pounds of the deer-scent dirt into a plastic bag.

Carry the dirt to a mock scrape and spread it evenly across the soil. While this urine-scented soil is not necessary, it adds realism and makes for a more consistently attended scrape year-round.

Bad Tick Summer: Beware Powassan Virus

deer tick

After the mild winter of 2016 in many regions, some experts are predicting a longer and more severe tick season this summer. Warm winters are easy on mice and deer, the animals that ticks typically infest. A greater number of ticks survived the mild winter, and an early spring awakened dormant insects sooner.

There is concern this will trigger an increase in tick-borne illnesses. Researchers are especially worried about an uptick in Lyme disease and the Powassan virus, a rare condition that can cause brain inflammation.

While you have heard of Lyme disease—there were more than 28,000 cases in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—the Powassan virus is still rare. Only 75 cases have been reported over the last 10 years in the United States according to the CDC. But with the predicted heavy tick summer, conditions are ripe for an increase.

Like Lyme disease, Powassan is carried by white-footed mice (also known as wood mice) and transmitted to humans via deer tick bites. It’s more prevalent in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, just like Lyme disease.

Powassan’s transmission to humans is quicker than Lyme and tends to be more fatal. Many people bitten by Powassan-infected ticks do not develop obvious or immediate symptoms. Others may experience flu-like symptoms, a mild rash, fever and headache.

In extreme cases, the virus can affect the central nervous system and lead to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes the surround the brain and spinal cord), causing symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, seizures and loss of consciousness. These begin appearing a week to one month after being infected. Currently, there aren’t any medications to treat Powassan or vaccines to prevent it.

Most of you are going to spend time in the woods and fields over the next couple of months, working land, scouting, setting/checking trail cameras… Here are some tips to protect from a tick-borne illness like Powassan or Lyme.

Dress in long sleeves and long pants and wear socks (no flip-flops!). Use permethrin as an insecticide and spray it on your clothing and boots. I wear calf-high snake boots and tuck my pant legs inside.

Apply insect repellent to your skin. Generally, products with DEET and picaridin are most effective.

Outside, try to avoid walking through heavy brush and piles of leaves where gaggles of ticks and larvae concentrate.

Immediately after arriving home, strip and run your clothes through a hot dryer for 10 minutes. Take a hot shower and scan your body for ticks.

If you find one embedded, the safest way to remove it is to grip the tick with tweezers as close to your skin as possible and pull. After a tick is removed, monitor the bite site, and call your doctor if you experience deep redness, a bulls-eye rash or other unusual characteristics. Don’t take any chances with tick bites!

Are the ticks bad this year in your neck of the woods? Lots of ticks here in central Virginia, but I’ve seen worse.

Illustration Source: Tick Encounter Resource Center  

Rage Broadheads Protected From Chinese Knockoffs

hanback w rage buck

FeraDyne Outdoors announces that the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued a powerful General Exclusion Order (GEO) that will protect FeraDyne’s popular Rage broadheads from foreign patent and trademark infringement. The GEO, which takes effect immediately, empowers more than 20,000 Customs & Border Protection Officers at more than 300 U.S. ports of entry to identify and bar from entry all foreign-made broadheads that violate Rage patents and trademarks.

rage close up

In 2006 FeraDyne released the original slip-cam Rage (pictured), which changed the face of the archery-broadhead business, especially as pertains to deer hunting. The original Rage quickly became the market leader and has since been joined by a growing line of patented Rage broadheads, all of which are designed and manufactured by American workers in the United States.

It didn’t take long for Chinese counterfeiters to begin creating cheap knock-offs of the Rage that illegally copied FeraDyne’s patented designs. Wisconsin-based FeraDyne filed a complaint with the ITC in November 2015. The ITC’s investigation found infringement on the Rage design and trademark by at least 9 foreign companies.

The ITC recently issued the GEO to close the U.S. market to all foreign-made broadheads that infringe on the Rage, regardless where the knock-offs are made or the identity of the party seeking to import them. The GEO, which covers both direct copies of Rage broadheads as well as other infringing designs, will be in place indefinitely.

“We are pleased to see (our) intellectual property rights affirmed by the U.S. International Trade Commission, and we are grateful that the dedicated law enforcement officers of Customs & Border Protection have joined in the fight to keep our company and customers safe from counterfeiters,” said Todd Seyfert, president and CEO of FeraDyne. “While we don’t ever want to see customers lured into buying a foreign knock-off in the first place, (hunters) should know that now those orders might not arrive (in the U.S.) at all.”

A solid ruling and another good reason to buy American and #Make America Great Again.

Pre-Season Tip: How to Hang a Tree Stand in the Woods

wool plaid luke

While Montana bowhunter Luke Strommen prefers to hunt big bucks on the fringes of fields when possible, he realizes that hanging sets back in the woods is an integral part of the game.

“In mid-season, by hunting back in the woods a ways, you can catch the bucks that come off a field early and first in the morning–these are usually the most mature and the largest deer. And these stands can be anytime-of-day stands, where you might shoot a buck morning, midday or evening.”

In a woods-hunting situation, you have to get to your stand very early, morning or afternoon advises Luke. “You have to pick your poison because it is difficult to pick a trail to your stand where whitetails won’t pass and wind the scent you left with your feet.”

Luke notes that after a hunt, it can sometimes be tough to get out of a woods stand without deer seeing or hearing you, thus contaminating the area for future hunts. “One trick is just before you climb down, blow a coyote howl or a light yap. An old friend from Idaho told me that years ago, and it works. Any deer close by will clear out, and then you leave unnoticed.

“Also, if by chance you hunt near train tracks or highway, move fast out of the stand when a train rumbles through or a big rig roars past. Out here in Montana we call that ‘noise camo.’”