Here's another thing I should have covered in my seminar on Hunting With Kids: Just because it's winter, doesn't mean you don't need to check them for ticks.
My wife pulled a deer tick off the head of my five-year-old son yesterday. My hunting partner Mike found two ticks on himself the day after our New Year's Eve Deer Drive. As most of you know, these ticks carry Lyme Disease, and it's very important to check for them. Preferably, you want to find them before they attach to your skin and expose you to the disease.
I'm always diligent about checking the kids and myself for ticks in the summer and continued to do so after our early-season bow hunts in October. But, even though October came in with temperatures approaching 90 degrees, the weather pattern normalized in November, and that month and December were cold enough that ticks slipped off my radar screen.
It got warm again the last week of 2007, and the deer ticks are apparently enjoying it, crawling around in search of victims.
I wish I could say I think we're finding these ticks because we're experiencing a stretch of unusually warm weather. But the reality is it's not that unusual anymore. We've been getting these extended winter warm spells just about every year since the late 90s. Last year, we wore shorts on the final day of deer season, which is always the first Saturday in January here in Virginia.
A brief Internet search this morning didn't turn up anything definitive on what the temperature has to be for ticks to be active. But I did find a few forums on which participants discussed having found ticks on themselves during the winter months. One individual stated that deer ticks are active anytime temperatures are above freezing.
I'm not sure what the guideline should be. But I do know we have a new rule in my house: Anytime we spend time outdoors, which we strive to do every day no matter what the temperature, we're going to check for ticks.
You should do the same.