Ticks are destroying my love for the woods!


You cant see them, but I assure you, there are there! Millions of them, just waiting for you to pass!

Ticks!  I hate them!  Vile little critters.  They crawl up your body looking for a cozy place to dig in and sip your blood.  You might feel them crawling along, but when you scratch, they flatten themselves out, and you pass right over them!

It used to be that you could go into the woods every day and find a tick once a month or so, but now you can’t step ten feet into the woods without picking one up!

Typically those were dog ticks, also known as wood ticks, but all you had to do to avoid them was stay out of the woods until there was a good heavy frost.

Now?  In addition to the wood ticks, the woods in my part of Maine are full of deer ticks too, and I have seen them crawling on my blaze orange hunting clothes after there had been snow on the ground for more than a week!

The kicker?  I have OCD.  I go into the tall grass, and all I am thinking of are the dozens of ticks on me!  So what do I do about it?  That’s simple!  I stay out of my most favorite place to be…The woods.

You might say it is simple to avoid them.  Tuck your socks into you pant legs, and lace your boots tight.  Tuck your shirt into you pants, and cinch up your belt.  Wear long sleeves, with an elastic cuff, and spray exposed areas with bug spray.

Yeah…NOT gonna happen!  I head into the woods in mandals without socks, wearing shorts, and a T-Shirt.  And I HATE bug spray!  I have battled hordes of mosquitoes in the wilds of Alaska without it.  And let me tell you…The skeeters here?  HA!  Spend five minutes in mosquito country in Alaska, and you will wish you were back in Maine complaining about the ones here!  But for the most part, you know when a mosquito is on you, and although they are the most deadly creature on the planet, in the northern regions they are still just a nuisance.  Meanwhile, EVERYBODY in New England knows somebody with Lyme Disease.

Yesterday, the smell of the November woods, drifting around in the fog was too much to resist.  Visions of plump deer feeding under an apple tree, or laying in the tall grass between the young pines drove me into loading up a rifle, and donning the blaze orange for a jaunt into the woods.

As I crept along on the wet pine needles, scanning the trees ahead of me, I was focused on one thing.  Spotting any deer that might be watching me pass.  Once I reached the hay-field at the top the hill, my focus was on the view.  Low fog drifting into the gullies, and weaving its way among the trees.  Golden brown beech trees raining their leaves down to the forest floor.  Silhouettes of birds gliding from tree to tree.  It was easy to picture a massive buck standing in the middle of it all looking at me curiously.

I got home in time to meet my son’s bus.  I didn’t see any deer.  I didn’t really expect I would.  But when my son came home, he noticed something on my hand…A tick.

INSTANTLY, I felt them all over me!  I did a quick check, and found none.  Later that evening, watching TV in the dark, I felt one again.  I pinned it under my finger, and yelled for the boy to come turn on the light. Sure enough, my paranoia was justified, there was a tick on my stomach!  FIVE HOURS after I came out of the woods, and after I had already checked myself, I had another tick on me!

All night long, I was sure I had them on me.  I am 100% positive that when my wife comes home from her live in shift at work tomorrow she will check me over and find another half-dozen, their heads buried into my flesh, and their bodies bulging with my blood!  I will be positive I have Lyme Disease.

Sitting here writing this, I feel them.  All over me! I feel them!  In my hair!  Behind my ears!  I feel them!  In my arm pits!  On my back!  I FEEL THEM!  They are crawling up my legs!  I FEEL THEM!!!

As much as I love deer hunting, and being in the woods, I can’t go!  My son’s bus will be here soon, and I will be able to hunt until 3:00, but I wont go. because…DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN HELP ME!  I FEEL THEM!

I’m still wondering why we cant use DDT for ten years or so…

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.