Scott Rall: Those pesky little ticks

Scott Rall
Scott Rall

I have been super busy during evenings and weekends doing prescribed burns to improve wildlife habitat. Normally, this time of year is about when the ticks start to show up, and I often wonder if doing a burn on a certain spot does anything to reduce the number of ticks in that area for any length of time.

I have never found anyone who can answer that question with any certainty. All I know is that ticks give many people and dogs owners in particular the heebie-jeebies. They are just a part of being outside, and I just deal with them.

I have not had a tick on me yet this year, but you know they will become very common over the next few months. I went for a walk with Doug Tate last late summer and we covered about a half-mile out and back to look at a water control structure at one of my wildlife properties. When we returned to the truck, we removed over 100 ticks from the two of us.

There are different things you can do to reduce the pain of ticks. When I am out and about, I try to tuck my pant legs into the tops of my boots. Ticks always have a desire to climb the mountain. If they start on your leg, they will most likely stop their stroll when they get into the hair on the back of your head.

They are quite easy to see and remove as they climb up the outside of your pants. They are harder to detect early if they are climbing where you cannot easily spy them.


You look like a dork with your pants tucked in, but this really does help. If the ticks are really bad, I spray my pants down with a high-density Deet product. I don’t think this is a savior by any means but if it stops 25 percent of them it is worth it.

The key to dealing with ticks is to deal with them early. Deer ticks can carry Lyme's disease and I know of many friends who have actually had it before.

It is my understanding that a deer tick has to be attached for 24 hours to transmit the disease. Doing the mirror-mirror on the wall trick is a must before you go to bed.

I try really hard to avoid areas where deer ticks are present.

When grouse hunting a few years back, I got a deer tick on my arm. I noticed it within 12 hours, but that spot hurt to the touch for over a week. That same outing, I took a fine fur brush and took one stroke across the side of Raider and then tapped the brush on the top of the dog trailer and counted 11 deer ticks in one stroke.

I won't subject my dogs to that risk. I do immunize for Lyme’s disease to be on the super safe side and I think hunting dogs should all get it.

There are lots of different names for dog tick treatments, but there are two main groups that use slightly different chemicals. It is a liquid that absorbs into the dog’s skin when allied between their front shoulders.

These usually last about a month at a time and are the cheapest. The down side is twofold. First it leaves a greasy spot on the dog for a few days and, second, some dogs will show an allergic reaction to this method. A good old flea and tick collar can be a satisfactory alternative in these situations.


They can also take a pill that lasts longer but costs more. If you only have one dog, it does not matter much, but when you are treating four dogs every month the costs do add up. All I can say is that every dog deserves to be cared for in a way that ticks are not left uncontrolled.

Another reason to make sure your pet is protected is that they can get really sick from a variety of different tick-borne illnesses. We had a dog on the training truck one season that has been to a different trainer and contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The dog was very sick for three months even as treatment was being applied.

It is time to get the order in for whatever treatment method you choose to use. The area veterinarians will be more than happy to mail it to you.

A dog relies on you for many things and tick treatments are one of them. Be a great owner and do your part.

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