Monday, July 18, 2011

Hunting with mosquitoes

I just came in from target shooting in my backyard. We are experiencing mosquito problems right now, so before I went out I sprayed down with some OFF.  Unfortunately, I forgot to spray my face. After 30 minutes, when I came back inside, I had eight bites on my face. The bites were not only thing annoying, the mosquitoes buzzing around my face made it difficult to concentrate, so my shooting was less than great.

Last season I had some miserable hunts due to mosquitoes. On one hunt in a swamp the mosquitoes were so thick I was breathing them in. I ate my lunch in my truck. In the time it took to get into my truck 64 mosquitoes got in. I know this because I counted them as I killed them. I learned a lot on that hunt. Not a lot about hunting, but a whole lot about mosquitoes.

There are a number of things you can use to lessen the impact mosquitoes make on your hunt.

Everyone has a can or two of this laying around. Insect repellent containing DEET will get the job done. The higher the DEET content the longer the repellent lasts. Don't trust repellent that does not contain DEET. You are not a little girl playing in her backyard. The places we hunt have serious mosquitoes and it requires serious protection. The down side to repellent is that it is stinky. It is perfect for small game and birds, but deer and predators would smell it a mile away. I think that nothing screams "human" quite like insect repellent. There is some that claims to have a cover scent built in, I haven't seen any studies on these and don't know if I trust their claims.

The old, stinky standby

Permethrin is an insecticide. It does not repel mosquitoes, it kills them. You cannot apply Permethrin to your skin as it is a poison, but you can apply it to your clothing before you wear it. Once it dries it will not hurt you and is still effective against bugs. It is odorless. Permethrin will not help you from getting bit. However, You will have the satisfaction of knowing the mosquito will most likely die soon after biting you. It stays on your clothing for several washings and is very effective against ticks. I always treat my clothes with this for whatever minor protection it provides. It should be noted that it is very poisonous to cats.

Kills bugs, but not mammals. Except for cats. Does this mean cats are actually bugs?

The Thermacell is one of the best inventions ever. I believe it works by magic. It creates a 15 foot barrier around you that mosquitoes will not enter. It kind of makes a force field around you. Very cool. It uses a small disposable butane cartridge and a repellent pad. It is very effective on calm days. Unfortunately, it has some limitations. It is not very effective during breezy days. I guess the wind blows away the magic force field. It is only effective if you are sitting still and it takes 15 minutes to warm up. It also gets hot, so you cannot use it while it is attached to you. It is great for a stand hunter, but useless for a still hunter. The Thermacell refills are expensive. Expect six dollars for a days use.

A force field making wonder
The most effective mosquito control is a physical barrier. If they can't get to you they can't bite you. Bug suits and special bug proof clothing works great. They can be expensive, but there are alternatives to dedicated bug proof clothing. A camouflage rain coat and pants are very effective. Couple the rain gear with a inexpensive head net and you are in business. I highly recommend Froggs Toggs  for this. They are light weight and breathable. A mosquito cannot bite though them. I love my Frogg Toggs. There are drawbacks to protective clothing. They are hot. On weather over 70 degrees it will be sweltering. You can always get by with just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but it will be hot. Also, a head net really makes it hard to see in low light conditions.

Frogg Toggs, the best rain gear ever

Other options and tips
Mosquitoes are less active when the temperature gets below 45 degrees and above 95 degrees. They do not like direct sunlight or windy conditions. Avoid disturbing vegetation as this can wake them up. Once you in a high stand they are not too bad, they prefer to stay close to the ground. Mosquitoes are attracted to moving targets. Sit still and they will be less attracted to you. Pop-up blinds make great mosquitoes barriers.

Mosquitoes will always be a problem, but with these tips they can be less of a problem. Did I miss a great way to get rid of mosquitoes? let me know in the comment section!
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