By John Martino
— At a recent gather-ing of outdoor writers from across Indiana the subject of this year’s unusual weather and how it impacted fishing and hunting activities came up. Following several of those discussions, it seemed talks moved on to this spring’s high number of ticks.
“They are as thick as I’ve ever seen them,” said Don Cranfil of Bloomington.
“I noticed a lot of them too while turkey hunting,” added Bill Keaton.
With last winter’s exceptionally mild weather and our extremely early spring, tick numbers appear to be higher than ever.
As spring moves to summer, many of us are going to spend a lot of time outdoors, and we should. Whether we are fishing, hiking or just playing in the yard with our children, summertime is meant for us to be outside. I have several friends who have already begun hanging new tree stands for the upcoming fall deer hunting season.
As we enjoy the outdoors during this time of year, we should be aware of ticks, but at the same time not let them deter us from the activities we enjoy.
Each year there are isolated cases of Lyme disease diagnosed in Indiana. This serious, infectious illness is transmitted to humans through bacteria from the bite of infected deer ticks. Unfortunately, our state lies right in the middle of some of the highest concentrations in the country.
Lyme disease often manifests itself with a characteristic round rash around the bite. This may be accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue and joint pain. Symptoms usually show up one to two weeks after a bite. It’s always good to see a doctor if these symptoms occur. Lyme disease can be successfully treated, but is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Be sure to let the doctor know you have been exposed to ticks.
There are many wive’s tales and myths concerning the removal of these eight-legged pests. The bottom line is if you do find a tick that has become attached, just grab it behind the head with a pair of tweezers and apply steady backward pressure until you pull it out. Sure, it always better to remove the entire tick, but don’t be overly concerned if some of the head remains. The harmful bacteria comes from the tick’s abdomen, not the head.
There is another method of removal that is gaining wide-spread acceptance, especially in those places where they’re difficult to remove with tweezers, like between the toes or in the middle of a thick, head full of hair. Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for 15-20 seconds. In most cases, the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.
Being aware goes a long way in enjoying our natural resources while at the same time ensuring your adventures remain safe. Ticks find their host by “questing.” They perch on low-growing grasses, weeds and shrubs with their two front legs outstretched lying in wait for their host.
When in the woods or tall grass, wear long pants and a shirt. Light-colored clothing, while not only being cooler, makes it easier to spot ticks that may get on your clothes. Wear a hat, too, as ticks can sometimes drop from trees and leaves. Shoes and socks also are important protection.
Most important is to wear a good quality insect repellent. 3M makes a great new product called Ultrathon (I personally like the lotion formula) that dispels many of the common chemical concerns to insect repellents of the past. Sawyer is another repellent (again, I prefer the lotion) that contains a controlled release DEET formula.
Time-release brands provide longer lasting protection. Both can add a layer of protection for up to 12 hours per application and is splash and sweat resistant.
Anytime you come out of areas that could be infested with these little blood-suckers, which could even be your backyard at this time of year, check your hair, clothes and skin. It usually takes at least 24 hours after a tick becomes attached to transfer the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Even a quick, daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing these pests before they can transmit an infection.
By being aware and using common sense when it comes to these pesky insects, you will be able to enjoy another great summer season and not have a thing to worry about.
The Kokomo Bass Anglers group held its first tournament of the season on Lake Manitou and it was one of its best ever. There were 19 members taking part in the contest who brought in a total 48 fish after the eight-hour long event.
Sam Taskey took first place with a five fish limit sporting a total weight of 10 pounds, 14 ounces. He also reaped the tourney’s “big bass” honor with a largemouth missing the 4-pound mark by an ounce. Scott Vollmer finished in second place with five fish totaling 9 pounds, 4 ounces. Third place went to Wayne Eades with five fish dropping the scales at 8 pounds, 2 ounces.
Bob Rose and Wayne Nolder came out on top at last week’s Delphi-Delco team bass tourney staged on Mississinewa Reservoir with five fish weighing 9 pounds, 10 ounces. A 2-pound, 8-ounce fish also earned them the tourney’s “big bass” award. Larrell Norris and Dave Robertson grabbed second place with five fish totaling 9 pounds, 7 ounces.
Here are the names of local sportsmen who have collected birds during this spring’s wild turkey hunting season. This information is provided by Bryant’s Outdoor Store and U.S. 31 Bait and Tackle and includes standard measurements which are weight, beard length in inches and length of spurs in millimeters.
• Jeff Mulkey — 18 pounds, 101⁄2-inch beard, 20mm spurs.
• Dan Herrell — 17 pounds, 101⁄2-inch beard, 17mm.
• Kim Lee — 23 pounds, 111⁄2-inch beard, 24mm spurs.
• Zach Lawson — 20 pounds, 101⁄2-inch beard, 29mm spurs.
• James Trine — 28 pounds, 11-inch beard, 22mm spurs.
Tribune Catches of the Week
Bryant’s Outdoor Store: Chuck Nunnally pulled in 15 channel and blue catfish with his largest dropping the scales at 12 pounds. Nunnally hooked his catch from the Mississinewa River on cut bait.
Springhill Camp Ground and Pay Pit: Paul and Richard Stout caught five channel cats totaling 11 pounds, three ounces. The fish were taken on live bait.
U.S. 31 Bait and Tackle: John Stephenson and Jeff Tamano each caught their limits of 25 crappies with several of the largest stretching 14-inches in length. The fish were taken from Mississinewa Reservoir on live bait and artificial lures.
• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at email@example.com.