Editor’s Note: Hank Parker is the host of three television shows, “Hank Parker 3D” on the Pursuit Channel, “Hank Parker’s Flesh and Blood” on the Outdoor Channel and the “Hank Parker Outdoor Magazine” fishing show on the Pursuit Channel and NBC Sports Network. Parker won the Bassmaster Classic in 1979 and 1989 and is an avid outdoorsman.
My sons and I are concerned about rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads, coral snakes and all the other critters that can bring harm to us when we’re in a field and shooting our TV shows. We wear Rocky Snake Boots and use insect repellent. What many hunters completely overlook is that a tick can be as deadly as a rattlesnake. In the past, I’ve come in from hunting and had several hundred ticks on me. I had never been too concerned about them before, but this past year I had Lyme disease, as did my son Billy and his wife, Laura. Billy had it bad. Lyme disease gets into your bloodstream, then your bones, then your brain stem and finally your nervous system. As far as I know, no one ever has been cured of Lyme disease once it gets into your nervous system. Billy got Lyme disease in his bones. At this writing, he just has finished-up 6 months of antibiotics through a surgically-implanted port. Billy took those treatments 5 days a week from August to the first of January. He was given strong antibiotics, 4 hours per day for 4 days a week, and then, on Friday he received another medicine to help build-up his immune system.
I detected my Lyme disease earlier than Billy did. I had all the symptoms quickly, and my doctors immediately identified, it even though the test came back negative. As I understand it, about 90 percent of the time the test will come back negative during early detection, even when a person does in fact have Lyme disease. This is one reason that diagnosing it is so difficult. Fortunately, the doctor who saw me was from Connecticut, where Lyme disease was first accurately diagnosed. He immediately recognized the symptoms, so I already had started a 45-day regimen of antibiotics, even before the tests came-up positive.
My boys and I aren’t willing to give up our outdoor business because of Lyme disease, but we’re much-more careful to prevent being infected by the ticks that carry Lyme disease. A company called Sawyer Products makes a good insect repellent, Permethrin, that works on ticks. Spray your clothes down before you go hunting, and let the product dry. Most hunters don’t use this product liberally enough, because it’s fairly expensive, but I soak my Mossy Oak camouflage heavily with Permethrin and then let my clothes dry. The product stays in the clothing through about four washing and drying cycles, but I usually re-spray after two. I spray my boots down as well. I’ve been using this product for the last year, and I haven’t found one tick on me. Although you need to give all the snakes, tarantulas and other critters a wide berth too, don’t overlook the ticks, because you don’t want to contract Lyme disease this season. Be safe, my Mossy Oak friends, and have a great turkey season this spring.