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TRAVELING JACK

Posted 5/23/17 (Tue)

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

One, two, tie my shoes.
Three, four, go out the door.
Five, six, pick up ticks.
After lying on my stomach photographing prairie smoke petals last week, I came home and brought a handful of ubiquitous wood ticks with me.
Oh, joy.
What’s that? The sensation of strands of hair falling on your face while you sleep?
Nope. It’s a tick crawling across your cheek.
Ticks are part of life in North Dakota. We’re in the prime season. I’ve already picked up and picked off many, with no diseases yet (fortunately).
My dad’s bird dog, wallowing in the underbrush of the badlands this month, not only picked up several ticks in the folds of his ears, but he took some more home to Fargo to visit.
“He’s a tick cushion,” Dad said as the bird dog roared through an undergrowth along the Little Missouri River.
Some of my most vivid memories involve one or more wood ticks. The day Ronald Reagan died, I counted 69 ticks I picked off my socks while on a trail at Pickerel Lake in South Dakota.
When I was a kid, my mom invented ways to dispose of them. Stove burner? Hand sanitizer? Pocketknife?
“Don’t use the toilet! It wastes water!” she caws.
The discovery of one leads to the sensation of many more, creeping up your body as you’re snug on the sofa, reading Agatha Christie.
What’s that?
Once without my eyewear, I confused a mole for a tick. Who’s done that before? It’s not the first time my eyes have deceived; a rare, white bird turned out to be just a bag in a tree after I stalked it for several minutes by the Red River.
Damn.
On a recent trip to Cabela’s, I invested in a can of permethrin for my weeklong camping trip to Minnesota next month.
I’ve convinced myself I’ll get Lyme disease, lose all my food to a bear and be swept out to sea on Lake Superior.
But at least I have permethrin.
I also grabbed a hand mirror. These creatures called black-legged tick nymphs are the stuff of nightmares.
Then my coworker told me about seed ticks in Tennessee.
Guess I’m never going there now. Too bad. I’ve always wanted to meet Dolly Parton.
In truth, I’ve probably overprepared for tick prevention in the Minnesota woods.
Permethrin, long socks, long pants, light colors, lint roller, first aid kit. What else do I need?
Certainly not the bird dog.
I’ve done my research too; Minnesota has more than four times the incidence of Lyme disease per 100,000 people compared to North Dakota, according to 2015 state health department figures.
Yikes.
See you in June.