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It’s open season on ticks!

Hunter with dog

Ticks can carry germs that can make you sick. Protect yourself, your family, and your pets from tick bites this hunting season.

Ticks can carry germs that cause serious and sometimes deadly diseases like tularemia, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. While most tickborne infections occur during the summer, ticks may still be active well into the fall, or even year-round in warmer climates. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, and on animals themselves, so hunting will bring you in close contact with ticks. Take the proper precautions this hunting season to keep you and your pets healthy.

Prevent Tick Bites

There are currently no vaccines to prevent tickborne disease in the United States, so avoiding tick bites and is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your pets.

Before the Hunt

Man getting clothes ready for hunting trip
  • Treat gear and clothing with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Products containing permethrin kill ticks. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs.
  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne disease. Treat dogs regularly with tick prevention products. Talk to your veterinarian about the best product for your dog.
  • Tuck your pants into your boots or socks and tuck your shirt into your pants to prevent ticks from crawling inside clothing.

During the Hunt

  • Walk in the center of trails, when possible, to avoid brushing up against ticks.
  • Wear gloves when dressing or butchering game and wash hands thoroughly afterwards.  Animals can carry diseases like brucellosis, tularemia, and rabies. People can become exposed while handling infected animal tissue.

After the Hunt

  • Shower immediately after being outdoors. Showering may help remove unattached ticks.
  • Check your body for ticks daily, when spending time in tick areas. Perform a full body check to look for ticks. Use a mirror, or have someone help you with hard-to-see areas.
  • Check dogs for ticks after returning home. The most common location for ticks on dogs include the ears, around the eyes, between the legs, around the tail, and between the toes.
  • Remove any attached ticks from people or pets immediately. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers works very well. To remove a tick, grasp it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk. For detailed information about tick removal, see the tick removal page.

Watch for fever, rash, or flu-like illness in people and pets in the weeks following tick exposure, even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick.

Where to Check for Ticks
Where to Check Your Pet for Ticks

Tickborne Diseases in the United States

Ticks can carry a wide range of germs that can make you or your pet sick. Thousands of cases of tickborne disease occur every year in the United States. Illnesses can range from very mild to deadly. See your doctor right away if you develop a fever, rash, or flu-like illness following contact with ticks. Remember, many tickborne diseases can be effectively treated if recognized early. Be sure to mention to your doctor any history of tick bites or outdoor activities where you might have been exposed to ticks.

For more information about diseases that you can get from a tick bite see our Ticks website.

Note: Most tickborne diseases are spread through the bite of an infected tick. However, the bacteria that cause tularemia can be spread through the bites of ticks and deer flies or during contact with infected animals and their carcasses. For hunters, this commonly occurs when skinning or processing infected animals including rabbits, muskrats, prairie dogs, and other rodents. Gloves should be worn when handling any sick or dead animal. Hunting dogs can also get tularemia if they’ve been in contact with infected game. If your dog develops a fever, becomes depressed, or loses its appetite, see your veterinarian immediately.

Graphic: Crosshairs with tick in the center

Remember…on your next hunt, target the tick

  • Treat your clothing with permethrin
  • Tuck your pants into your boots or socks
  • Shower after returning from the outdoors
  • Check for ticks daily
  • If you develop a fever or rash, see your doctor immediately
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