With a couple of hunts already under my belt this season, I can assure you there has been one common theme throughout: bugs. This is pretty common in most early-season hunts before temperatures have had a chance to drop below freezing. Not only can bugs be extremely annoying, they can break a hunt.
For example, I do a lot of spot-and-stalk hunting, whether it’s for mule deer, antelope or elk in August and September. As evening draws near and you’re on an incredible stalk, the last 50 yards are key. Every movement needs to be slow, methodical and only done if absolutely necessary. With that, if you have mosquitoes drilling into your face, neck, ears and hands, it can be extremely difficult to not swat them or try to get them off. This adds a ton of extra movement and takes your focus off what you’re doing. Instead of watching your step to avoid loose rocks or sticks, you’re trying to get the bugs off, causing you to make extra noise with your feet. Overall, bugs are not only annoying; they are distracting and can take a toll on your hunt. I’ve tried a variety of bug repellents and settled on a DEET-free option. I put it to the test in Colorado and walked away bugbite-free, and I notched my tag on a big mule deer and beautiful antelope.
In the past I figured if it didn’t contain DEET it wouldn’t work. Unfortunately, DEET is not good for you or your gear. I have actually had the DEET that was on my hands eat the paint off one of my cameras, so it can’t be very good for your skin! I found one company that makes both tick and insect repellent that is DEET-free and scent-free: Ranger Ready. It’s safe to use on the entire family and really works well.
It contains 20 percent Picaridin, which is a synthetic derived from the natural compound piperine. Piperine is found in the plants used to produce black pepper. To me the most important part was that it could be safely applied to skin, doesn’t damage my gear and my 3-year-old son, Jax, can use it too. Ranger Ready repels mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and biting flies (Can’t wait to test it out in Mozambique on my next adventure, as those Tsetse fly bites are horrible!). I used this on a spot-and-stalk mule deer hunt and in the blind as the flies were attacking while I waited on an antelope. The Ranger Ready Body-Worn Picaridin kept the bugs at bay without spooking game since it’s scent-free.
My all-time least favorite pests are ticks. Everyone has something they absolutely despise. For some it’s spiders, snakes or mice, but for me it’s ticks. They invade my space, creep me out and, worst of all, spread a ton of diseases. I continue to know more and more people who have developed Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and the Alpha-Gal meat allergy! No thank you to any and all of these. My family is at high risk because of how much time we spend outside, so it’s super important to find something that works and is safe for all.
To avoid ticks I use Permethrin spray. Simply treat your clothing and gear, and it will last up to 40 days or four washes. This is crucial during turkey season when ticks are at their peak, but it’s also important for early season hunts, tree stand prep, hiking and whatever else you may be doing outside throughout the summer. Ranger Ready makes a clothing-worn repellent with .5 percent Permethrin that has zero scent.
I’m all about spreading the word when I find something that works. I used to avoid putting on bug spray until I was eaten alive and then regret it the moment that nasty smell and DEET hit my skin. Now I can keep my entire family safe from bugs and ticks preemptively without having to rely on DEET.