Editor’s Note: Hank Parker has worn Mossy Oak since the company’s inception. He hosts two hunting shows; Hank Parker 3D on the Pursuit Network and Hank Parker’s Flesh and Blood on the Outdoor Channel, and a fishing show that has run on the Outdoor Channel for 30 years titled Hank Parker’s Outdoor Magazine.
Distractions are the name of the game when a big buck is coming in close toward a hunter. Having to itch, scratch, cough, clear your throat, swat mosquitoes and/or pick ticks in warm weather, or perhaps the weather is 10 degrees below zero, and your nose is running like a water faucet, will each cause you to break concentration and possibly spook a buck when he’s in close. If you have hay fever or allergies, this problem becomes amplified. I had a really-big buck in close to my tree stand before, and although it was hard, I was able to muffle an allergy cough and not spook him. That instance, unfortunately, isn’t my normal reaction. More often than not, my cough drives away deer, before I even am able to draw. After years of dealing with allergies, I’ve found the one thing you have to remember is to stay as still as possible. When I absolutely have to cough, I keep it inside my throat and refuse to open my mouth.
One of the most-terrible things experienced by hunters in a tree stand, other than falling out, is combating industrial-strength mosquitoes attacking ears and skin like tiny saber-toothed tigers. The only remedy I know for this situation is called the “Suck It Up” maneuver. Endure, don’t move, fight off all your natural instincts, and stay focused on the deer below. One time I was hunting turkeys with my son, Hank Jr., on Forrest Wood’s property on the White River in Arkansas. When we sat down to call the turkey, we didn’t realize until later we had sat on a tick condo. In a short time, just as a big turkey got closer and closer, I was completely covered in ticks. Just before Hank Jr. was planning to take the shot, I whispered, “Hank, there is a tick about to crawl up my nose. I have to move!” Instantly, Hank Jr. whispered, “Suck it up, Dad. Here comes the turkey!” I still think about that day, because I’ve learned to be successful when outside forces threaten to ruin a hunt, you just have to suck it up.
Note: Since that hunt, we have discovered Permethrin. Now we spray all of our clothes with this tremendous repellent and haven’t had a problem with ticks or mosquitoes since.