Ticked off.

My cousin works in the North Woods on the rez. He’s an archaeologist, and the tribe hired him to analyze their history.

I told this guy he was lucky to work in the woods. He said yeah, but ticks are a problem. There’s a bumper crop.

This reminded me of an experience I’d had years ago…

I’d gone into the same woods to take pictures. I spent an afternoon concealed in deadfall near a creek where I’d set out chicken from a can. Wanted to attract bears or coyotes. Maybe see a bobcat. I had binoculars and a camera.

A coyote came. It was big. Might’ve been a wolf. And a fox showed up. Separately of course. Later I saw porcupines, deer, Great Blue, and Black-crowned Night Herons, Scarlet Tanagers, Evening and Pine Grosbeaks. Several types of woodpecker and an Osprey. Bald Eagles, too.

At my rented cabin on Lake Gogebic, I took off my shirt and noticed wood ticks around my middle. A lot. They must’ve crawled in when I sat on the ground. They were bloated with my blood.

Generally there are two kinds of ticks to know: Wood ticks like these, and smaller deer ticks. It’s the deer ticks that carry Lyme Disease. Wood ticks can give you Spotted Fever and Tularemia. But I wasn’t interested in the science of tick-borne disease at the time.

I was freaked.

There’s a procedure for dislodging ticks, but at that moment I forgot it. I slapped and scraped.

(Procedure? Yeah, right. I’ve heard you’re supposed to stand still when you see a grizzly. But when you see one, you’re gonna run like hell. So much for procedure.)

The ticks came off like velcro being un-stuck. They popped out or broke up, and piled on the floor. A smeary mess. Not a proud moment in my exploring experience. I showered and soaped and didn’t get a tick disease.

But there are tick diseases you should know about. What are they? Sorry. This website is about birds and fun. If you want to read about sickness, the internet is all too obliging. Google away, but be careful. It’s crazy-making stuff.

Just remember that when you go into the woods, there’s a bumper crop of ticks these days. And they can make you pay a price in blood for every other thing you see there.

4 Responses to “Ticked off.”

  1. Paul says:

    Ticks kinda freak me out (my grandpa had Lyme’s disease – twice!) but the really annoying mite-thingy is CHIGGERS. Those little S.O.B.s sneak in around your waistband and armpits, burrow into your skin, and you only find out about it when you wake up in the morning with your skin itching like crazy. Pure nastiness. I got them twice this fall, once looking (unsuccessfully) for Least Bitterns, the other time trying to get a photo of a Henslow’s Sparrow.

  2. Shawn says:

    I’m in northern Minnesota where we have a heavy duty (two-fisted?) tick population. I’ve removed as many as 200 ticks in a day. I’ve had 5 coworkers contract either Lyme or ehrlichiosis in 2010 alone; fortunately I’ve been fine. Ticks are just nasty–and they swell up and burst when tossed on a hot log in a campfire.

  3. norm schaefer says:

    The tick thing reminds me of when I was a kid (around 11) vacationing in Rhinelander Wisc. I made the mistake of wading in a shallow stream that connected two lakes. I was pulling a small fishing boat and when I climbed back into the boat I had a dozen blood suckers covering my legs. ( I was in bathing trunks. ) I tried pulling them off. It proved impossible for me so I hitailed (sp?) it back to the lodge our family was staying. I think the owners wife removed them with salt. I felt like Humphrey Bogart in the “African Queen”. Ah, nature!

  4. Lee Dager says:

    I remember when I was a kid I got a tick on the back of my neck and my mama was gonna get it off by lighting a match, blowing it out and sticking the hot match head on the tick to dislodge it. Well, she forgot the part about blowing out the match and burned the hair off the back of my neck and head. Not a lot of damage done though, I had a buzz cut.