By Eric Fowler
It’s that time of year again, time when any time spent in the woods is also time spent collecting ticks.
My boy, Mace, and I went for a hike at Twin Lakes WMA west of Lincoln Sunday. We found three of those little parasites, two crawling on our clothes while we were out and one latched onto Mace’s dome when we got home. I think next year we’ll have a contest to see who finds the first tick. I would’ve won this year.
I hate ticks. And I hate that, after finding the first in mid-afternoon, I felt buggy the rest of the day, constantly brushing phantom ticks off my neck that weren’t really there. I’ve had worse. I pulled 20 Lone Star and dog ticks of varying sizes off me after a photo hike through The Nature Conservancy’s Rulo Bluffs Preserve a few years back, including those little buggers that you don’t find until they suck enough of your blood to become big buggers. Found some of those a week after a Nebraska City turkey hunt, and literally scratched the itch they caused for months.
But despite the fear mongering news I hear this time of year about ticks and the diseases they can spread, some of it even in news releases we’ve put out at the Commission, I still go outside. After all, on any given day Mace could bring me home some malady from that germ factory also known as school, but I still let him go. I could also get run over by a truck, and I don’t let that stop me from riding my bike or driving. And while the plane could indeed crash, I still fly, and love it.
Everything is so dangerous these days. Food can make us fat (duh! Don’t eat so much) or cause cancer, toys can kill us, germs can kill us, etc., etc., etc. … “We’re all going to die!!!!” Heaven forbid a child ride a bike without a helmet or sit in dad’s lap and “drive” the truck down a dirt road. I’m always amazed I survived childhood, and even more amazed folks like Jon Farrar are still on this side of the dirt. After all, Uncle Sam had hardly begun to legislating safety in his youth. Neither of us had padding beneath the jungle gym. And I’m sure we both chewed the lead paint off our cribs.
But I think it’s safe to say all of that safety legislation and “danger” news is leaching into the gray matter between people’s ears and affecting their common sense. Example: A friend’s neighbor’s son didn’t get to play outside until he was two or three because his mom was afraid he would eat dirt. Yea, but probably just once, unless he really liked it.
Yes, ticks can spread Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease and other bugs. But I read now that because deer ticks, the prime vector for Lyme disease, have never been found in Nebraska, that disease probably isn’t here either, except when folks bring it back from woods afar.
So when I read the news about the dangers of ticks, mosquitoes and other outdoor maladies, or worse yet, the dangers of using insect repellents to keep them at bay, and I can’t help but think: What is the danger of not going outside? Well, I guess the kids can sit on the couch and eat too much of that food that will kill them and/or make them fat while playing those video games that will turn them into criminals.
I know most of us are smart enough to look beyond the “risks” of going outside. It’s obvious outdoorsmen have more common sense than the rest of the world. After all, I don’t remember reading “Warning-Hooks are sharp and could impale you or a friend if used improperly.” on a fishing lure box or “Warning-Use of this product could result in exposure to ticks and l yme disease.” on a turkey call.
Yes, I hate those little blood-sucking parasites. But I’ll take my chances. How else would I get photos like this of my budding archeologist searching for artifacts in the wreckage of an old Studebaker?
I wonder where we’ll go tick collecting next … and when the mosquitoes will be out? West Nile, anyone?