I’d rather get bit by a cougar than a tick. With a cougar, you don’t have to wait to find out you’ve been attacked.

This morning I saw an Eastern Bluebird fly into a part of the woods I don’t normally enter.

But, it might not have been an Eastern Bluebird. I only got a quick glance. Its throat looked blue, which meant it could’ve been a Western Bluebird. Or something else.

I followed it, using a trail that’s little used. Knee-high grass was unavoidable. Further in, things got muddy.

Sometimes, you find yourself in an unvisited part of the woods, and it has a different quality of quietness. You feel that even animals and birds don’t come to this spot.

The deer and coyotes you’ve seen are in the usual places, near trails and open areas.

Birds, too, are back there, on the territory you know. Kingbirds, Summer Tanagers (sometimes), Indigo Buntings, cowbirds, several kinds of prairie sparrows; circling hawks and vultures.

But in this back-alley jungle, it was dead. No birds, no animals. Just high grass, heat and stillness. No mysterious blue bird, either.

When I returned to the main trail, I found a tick on my jeans, and brushed it away. I wondered about the ones I didn’t find.

Hate ticks.

A friend recently wrote in an email that “the ticks on the clock are getting faster and louder.” He meant time’s flying, and we better do something with our lives already.

His word “tick” comes back to me now. I picture the guy’s watch covered with ticks, the kind I found on the trail today.

Hate ticks. But, they’re a part of our clocks, and our woods. You have to live with ticks, both kinds. I’d rather have cougars.

Although, if you were pounced on by a cougar and you were holding his snapping jaw inches from your face, your fists filled with folds of his fur…know what you’d see?

Ticks. In his ears, around his eyes, crawling over your fingers.

10 Responses to ““Tick…””

  1. jeff says:

    It’s the ticks that turn young foxes into cougars.

  2. Rob L says:

    Indiana Jones hates snakes, TFBW hates ticks. I think that’s acceptable. You can be two-fisted and still hate ticks.

  3. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    For those who were grossed out by the thought of a tick sneaking onto you, Marc’s limericks can lighten the mood.

    Two-fisted birdwatchers, guys like Sandy and Chad, don’t give a tick much thought.

    I admit that saying I’d prefer a cougar bite was a bit of exaggeration. Making a point about something you see, versus something you find out about later.

    Probably should have said “mountain lion” anyway. “Cougar” can mean other things in other circles. But there’d been news about the return of Eastern Cougars to my part of the woods. Those were on my mind.

    I agree with Sandy and Chad…the woods and wilds are my favorite places, bugs or not, and wild animals big or little, make them better.

    As grizzly bear-guru Doug Peacock is said to have said by his pal Ed Abbey, “It ain’t wilderness unless there’s something in it that can eat you.”

    And I’d add that: if it ain’t wilderness, it ain’t much fun.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, every one. Let’s keep heading into the wilderness for the birds. And just as important, for the wilderness itself. Screw the ticks.

    As we said in the post, it’s the ticks you hear on your clock, coming faster and louder, that are the real enemy.

  4. sandy komito says:

    It seems so strange to me that you’d sooner welcome the bite of a cougar than one from a tick. Not me. If given the choice, I’d welcome the tick anytime over the cougar. The same seems to apply to all of the critters we don’t know much about like spiders, snakes, mosquitoes, rats, chiggers,, fire-ants and others.

    I think the lesson here is, once we learn about that which we otherwise fear, the learning process seems to lessen the fear factor and we can become more accepting and much less frightened.

    Don’t let this fear keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. It’s your world and you’re entitled to enjoy it without fear.

  5. Marc says:

    Saw your post re those ticks, which inspired these goofy limericks.

    I walk through the woods with a stick
    to stave off attacks from a tick.
    If a tick me attack,
    I flick that tick back
    and flee from the woods pretty quick.


    The ticks in the woods abound thickly.
    They’re ticks but their bites are not tickly.
    They clamp on your leg,
    suck your blood by the keg,
    the result of which makes you feel sickly.

  6. Georgy says:

    me too – could really do without ticks.
    great story – thank you.

  7. Chad S. says:

    I was born in 1929, and grew up in the woods of Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama. There we had a “free range” law, which mean that people could let their cattle roam loose in the woods, which they did. Ticks–the big ones, not the little “deer ticks”–were common. I found them on me regularly, and so did my parents when I took the occasional. I didn’t worry about them then, and don’t now. Relax and enjoy the outdoor.

  8. Frank says:

    I like the idea of fighting off a cougar, but you could never survive it. We have ’em common now in CA and they’ve done a lot of harm to people on trails. But unless I’m wrong your cougar is getting old fast, and that’s what you’re really saying here, like you are and your friend too. Fun stuff. Cougars don’t last long. 8 to 12 years max.

  9. Flora says:

    A good reason to wear light colored clothing when walking in the woods. My only experience with having an actual tick on me was after my first night in a cabin in the woods of Brown County State Park in southern Indiana near Bloomington. Having been raised in Miami it was all new… I woke up and felt a large round bump on my neck, asked my friend what it was and he said… “oooh, you gotta tick on your neck… ” I was like “get it offa me NOW!” the thought of something attached to me sucking my blood was almost enough to put me off of woods altogether for the rest of my life, but I’ve almost never had another tick on me, at least none that stuck. Hate ’em…

  10. Evelyn says:

    Oh, I am so with you on ticks. Hate them so much that at one point in my life I woke out of a dead sleep with the absolute knowledge that a tick was crawling up my left leg. Ripped off the covers and there he was. Not, you note, that there was a bug on me, but that a TICK was crawling and precisely where it was. Robotic little terrors.