Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent

Permethrin may be the best tick repellant out there.

Ticks bite, burrow, engorge, infect and just plain suck. Considering many of them aren't much larger than the period at the end of this sentence, a lot of the time we don't realize they are on us until it's too late. Spring turkey and bear hunters—really all hunters afield in warm weather--need some kind of protection against these little embodiments of evil.

My weapon of choice for the past 10 years or so has been Sawyer Permethrin. The spray—which you apply to your clothes, not your skin—contains 0.5 percent permethrin, a synthetic insecticide developed from the chemical pyrethrin found in the seed cases of certain chrysanthemums. The stuff is deadly to ticks. It attacks their nervous systems, hopefully leading to a slow, agonizing death.

Sawyer warns, in numerous places on the labels of the packaging, to apply permethrin with caution. It is not something you crop-dust over your person. Instead, spray your clothes, including socks and boots, with the stuff and let them dry completely before wearing. It remains effective for about a month and a half (about as long as most turkey seasons) or six launderings.

Three years ago a buddy and I went out one spring evening to roost turkeys. Our spot was known to be crawling with ticks, and we prepared accordingly. Or at least I did. He doused himself in DEET; I treated my camo with permethrin. He spent the next two hours cussing and picking ticks from his pant legs while I enjoyed gobbles bug-free. It was just one of dozens of times permethrin has protected my softer parts from ravage. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some new camo to spray.

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