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Summer Precautions by Larry Weishuhn

Summer Precautions

by Larry Weishuhn

The hunt had been fun, both my compadre Gary Roberson with Burnham Brothers Game Calls and I were hunting with Ruger Super Redhawk .44 mag revolvers topped with Trijicon’s RMR sights, and shooting Hornady’s 240-grain XTP ammo.  The Axis deer of the Texas Hill Country unfortunately did not relish the idea of making a trip back home with us.  But in my instance at least 84 tremendously “itchy” chigger bites would linger on for a few days.  

Previous to leaving home I had sprayed my hunting clothing with Sawyer’s Permethrin spray, but I had not sprayed my travel clothing. Camp’s handgun/rifle range was a mere fifteen steps outside from the front door.  The ground was relative bare except two tall weeds, which I walked by to inspect the target.  I should have known better!

As a youngster growing up in the Zimmerscheidt Community of rural Texas, I roamed the woods and creeks which began only a short distance behind our home.  Sun burn, mosquitos, ticks and chiggers were a part of my every day life.  Did not like them but accepted them.

Back then, I knew nothing of sunscreen.  When ticks attached I simply pulled them off, knowing the bite would itch for a week or two. I swatted at mosquitos and scratched when bitten.  As far as chigger bites, I scratched and scratched most of the summer and into the early fall. My legs and waist line were often covered with scabs throughout the spring and summer.  

I dearly hate chiggers! To quote my compadre Jim Zumbo, “I’d rather face a mad mother grizzly than deal with one chigger!” If you have never experienced chigger bites, “good on you mate!” Those who have…understand.  

Back then we knew ticks occasionally carried diseases, but did really worry about such things. Thankfully those were the days before Lyme disease made its appearance in Texas.

Chiggers are generally most active and confined summer climes and the south and southeastern US.  Today, ticks carrying Lyme disease have spread over a goodly portion of the Lower 48.  Lyme, first described in Pennsylvania several years ago, is carried by black-legged ticks.  And is caused by Borrelia mayonii.  Symptoms of the disease can mimic the flu, but can also cause paralysis, heart disease, arthritic problems and mimic many others diseases.  I have spoken with numerous people who have dealt with Lyme disease and those have NOT good experiences.

Some people bitten by Lyme carrying ticks develop a “bullseye” rash, which generally confirms having Lyme disease.  Unfortunately, not everyone develops such a rash.  Treatment is available but works best, if begun shortly after being bitten by the black-legged tick.

No matter where you live in the USA, with few exceptions, if you spend time outside including in your backyard, you can and will likely be exposed to Lyme disease.  That, unfortunately is a given.  

So what can you do to prevent having to deal with Lyme or any of the other diseases carried by ticks?  And staying inside is not an alternative with me!

Several years ago I started using Sawyer’s Permethrin, a spray available in many stores, particularly those that cater to hunters, fisherman and campers.  The spray is designed to be applied only to your clothing, NOT to your body!  I spray it on my socks, underwear, pants, shirts, vest, jackets and coats, as well as on my boots, leather gloves and felt hat. I buy sufficient Sawyer’s Permethrin (www.sawyer.com) to treat at least three full sets of clothing before going on a hunt, if I cannot wash clothes while on the trip.  I apply it to my clothing, to the point of where the garments are “wet”.  Then, I let it dry and place the clothing in a plastic bag and pack for the trip.

According to Sawyer’s, clothing can be worn and laundered a total of six times before more spray needs to again be applied.  I usually re-apply after four washings just to be on the safe side.

These applications also help keep mosquitos away.

A few years back hunting Africa near Kruger Park for Cape buffalo, we hunted tall grass infested with “fever ticks”. Quite often they were so thick it was hard to tell what the color of my pants really were.  But, I was never bitten.  Others who did not apply Sawyer’s Permethrin to their clothing were covered with ticks, and later had to be treated for tick fever.  I have also while hunting in Permethrin applied clothing during the spring and early summer been in country where one simply expected to be “eaten up” with chiggers, but because I had used the Sawyer’s spray did not receive even a single bite.  Those who failed to spray their clothing with Sawyer’s Permethrin suffered were miserable.

These days I seldom go afield without wearing clothing to which I have applied Sawyer’s Permethrin.  I learned the hard way!


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