This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, a carrier of Lyme disease. Credit: James Gathany | AP

As hunters head into the woods this deer season, two of the state’s wildlife biologists say paying extra attention to tick avoidance should be a priority.

For that matter, even nonhunters ought to be aware of the presence of ticks, including the black-legged or “deer tick,” which can spread Lyme disease.

“[Ticks] should be on the radar of anybody who spends any amount of time in the woods in Maine,” said state deer biologist Nathan Bieber of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “You’ve got to check yourself when you come back in. Lyme disease is not something you want to mess around with.”

Lee Kantar, the state’s moose biologist, said his daily walks with the family dog have taught him that there are plenty of ticks around, and he regularly removes a few from the dog after those jaunts.

An avid hunter, Kantar said he takes tick avoidance seriously.

“This is a significant health risk for us, but at the same time, we want everybody to be able to get out there and hunt,” Kantar said. “I’m exceptionally excited about deer season, but at the same time, I’m taking precautions. All of my hunting clothes are soaked in permethrin and ready to go for Saturday. [Ticks are] not going to stop me at all from hunting.”

The firearms season on deer begins Saturday for Maine residents and Monday for nonresidents.

Permethrin is available in most stores that carry hunting and hiking supplies. It is typically used to treat clothing, and direct application to skin is not advised.

Kantar said he also makes a point to check for ticks upon returning home. He said hunters who take the proper precautions shouldn’t worry about going into the woods.

“It’s a mixed message,” Kantar said. “Everyone should get out and deer hunt. But be vigilant about ticks. Don’t stop doing what you love doing.”

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...