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Disc Golf and Ticks

Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Summer is nearly officially here, and so is lush vegetation, and with that comes...


Ticks.


Yes ticks, the dreaded, blood sucking beings that seem to rain on the fun of any outdoor activity throughout the year, and disc golf is no exception.


Some people worry about ticks more than others, and for good reason as ticks are known for carrying illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, AGS, and others to name a few.


While you shouldn't let the fear of ticks ruin a day of disc golfing, it's also something you should be aware of and something you should learn to deal with when you head outside into wooded disc golf courses this summer and fall.


With some simple tricks, tips, and products, ticks will be the last thing on your mind when you're in the brush playing out or looking for a lost disc.


I have spent over 20 years of my life in the outdoors and have come across a tick or two in that time.


In doing so, I have learned some excellent ways to decrease my interactions with ticks and what to do when they do find themselves on you and your clothing.


In this article, we're going to discuss how to make it easier to spot ticks, when you should check yourself, and products to repel and kill ticks if and when they do find you.


So without further ado,


Let's dive in!

When playing in wooded courses, you're bound to get into some thicker vegetation, even in

the winter and spring months prior to the big green up!



What clothing should I wear for ticks when disc golfing?


In the winter, spring, and late fall months, it's easy to wear warm, long sleeved shirts and pants since temperatures are on the cooler, more brisk side.


Any pair of pants you would normally wear during this time of the year will work to help protect you from ticks, if you're warm, you're good.


As we get into the warmer times of the year, things do get a little trickier.


The easiest, and most comfortable solution is to wear shorts, but this will require some more diligence on your end, which we will discuss later on.


If you still wish to wear pants, there are plenty of options out there for you to stay relatively cool, and still have the added protection of long pants, and few options will be better than hiking pants.


Hiking pants are the perfect option for disc golf players because they're:

  1. Lightweight

  2. Designed for movement and activity

  3. Breathable and fast drying, and

  4. Often times waterproof or water resistant

All of these qualities are perfect for someone looking for active gear to protect themselves not only from itchy foliage such as poison ivy, but also biting insects.


Really, the only color you want to stay away from for obvious reasons is black, but besides that, most colors will work fine.


Lighter colors such as tan and light gray will make it significantly easier to see any ticks crawling on you when you check from time to time.



Here are some great, lightweight hiking pants that you can find on Amazon!


Once you have the right clothing picked out, the next question you may be asking yourself is:


Can I put anything on my clothing to help keep ticks off?


Luckily, the answer is yes!


And that answer is Permethrin.


What is permethrin? Simply put, it is a type of insecticide that is very effective at not only repelling biting insects like ticks and mosquitoes, but also killing them when they do get on your clothing.


The beauty in this product is that once you treat your clothes with it, you will get up to 6 weeks, or 6 washings worth of protection from it (whichever comes first) before you need to reapply it to your clothing and get another 6 weeks of protection.


That's right,


6 weeks!


So not only will you have long clothes on that will keep you relatively cool, help prevent you from contact with itch causing plants, and help prevent you from getting any ticks on your skin,


You can also get over a month of protection from a product that is going to kill any tick that does find its way onto your clothing anyways.


It's important to note that permethrin is not meant for skin use, only clothing and gear such as your bag, clothes, socks, and shoes. For skin protection, you'll need something else, which we'll discuss in the next section.


So,


What products have permethrin?


Few are better than Sawyer's Premium Insect Repellent, but there are other options on the market with the top choices on Amazon that you can see below. Simply click on one that you're interested in to shop!


Several products will offer protect, but few have been tested and trusted by many as much as Sawyer's premium repellent. Click on the picture to shop current prices on Amazon!




As stated, permethrin based sprays are only meant for clothing applications, not for direct to skin.


So what can you use to repel ticks and other biting insects from your skin?


In the previous section, I mentioned that wearing shorts would require more diligence on your end, and part of the reasoning for that is that you cannot expect the same protection from permethrin on your shorts (even though it will help) as you can on long pants is because your lower leg is still completely exposed when wearing shorts.


To offer protection for this, you must apply skin safe insect repellent.


Normal insect repellent differs from permethrin sprays in that it is skin safe, but differs in that it does not usually kill the insect, and does not offer the same long term protection.


Because of this, you will have to apply prior to each round of disc golf and possibly even twice in one round if you sweat a lot or get rained on.


Which is technically more of a hassle than applying it to clothing once every 6 weeks, but still a fairly easy task that takes just a few minutes of your time at most.


Seems like a fair trade if you ask me!


Even if you are wearing long pants that have been treated with permethrin, you will still want to consider adding skin safe insect/tick repellent to your arms if exposed, as well as any other exposed skin that could be subject to ticks, mosquitoes, or any other insects out there waiting to strike.


Some of the most widely used, and most popular insect repellents out there that you can find and shop for on Amazon included:

The most popular and widely used bug spray on the market OFF! Sportsmen Premium insect repellent,

you can click on the picture above to shop current prices on Amazon!




Just be cautious that any repellent that uses DEET can actually degrade plastic if too much gets on it. So be careful getting it on your hands and discs to prevent premature disc breakdown



Between wearing long pants, treating those pants and your other outer clothes with permethrin based sprays, and applying skin safe insect repellent before every round, you are going to be more than prepared to avoid as much contact with ticks as possible.


However, there will always be the chance that the tick somehow makes its way onto your clothing or body one way or another. A low chance, but a chance nonetheless.


So, the questions then become...


How often should I check myself for ticks?


and,


How do I check for ticks?


To answer the first question, whether you're wearing safeguards or not, you do not need to check yourself for ticks every couple of minutes, especially if you stay in grass and out of thick vegetation.


For these instances, checking yourself just once during and once after play is usually enough to ensure you don't have anything from the course crawling on you searching for it's next meal.


If however you spend a lot of time in the thick looking for lost discs, I would suggest checking yourself briefly every single time you get out of the brush and back to the fairway.


To check yourself, simply look carefully on the fronts and backs of your legs, while not forgetting your shoes, socks, and shirt for any black speck moving ever so slowly.


This is where having light colored clothing on will help you spot those tiny bugs before they make it to your skin.


Adult ticks are fairly easy to spot, especially on a light color, but ticks in the nymph stage can be equally harmful with transmissible diseases and are very hard to spot since they're about the size of the tip of a lead pencil.


So take your time when checking!


If you spot a tick on your clothing, simply brush it or flick it off, make sure there aren't any others, and move on with your round while continuing to check yourself after any visit to the thick vegetation.


Once your round is complete, you'll want to check your clothing one more time thoroughly to look for any stragglers before hopping in your vehicle and continuing on with your day.


Later, when you shower or change clothes, be sure to check yourself again to ensure that no ticks made it past your clothing and insect repellent force field and onto skin.


Areas to pay special attention to during this final search include:

  1. Your waistline

  2. The top of your socks

  3. The base of your neck, and

  4. Your entire back

These places on your body are commonly the places where survivor ticks first encounter your bare skin, so they stop where they're going and get down to the task of attaching themselves to you. These could also be the areas that are difficult to check without the assistance of another player or a mirror.


If you find a tick on bare skin and it does not seem to be attached yet, simply brush or flick it off of you just as you would clothing and continue your search for others.


If the tick has not bitten you yet, then you don't have to worry about any diseases such as Lyme.


If, however, the tick does seem to be


attached, you're going to have to have it removed one way or another.


Here is the CDC's recommendation on tick removal detailing the steps to safely and effectively remove a tick that has managed to bite you.


From the CDC website:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

You can find the CDC's full document on the subject by CLICKING HERE.



As for old timer strategies such as covering the tick with something like petroleum jelly and letting itself detach, you're much better off getting the tick removed as soon as possible rather than waiting for it to detach itself as you don't know how long it has already been there.


If you do get bitten, and have successfully removed the tick, I advise that you go get screened for Lyme and other diseases, or minimally contact your PCP, just to err on the side of safety as you simply don't know exactly how long the tick has been there prior to you spotting it.


If you don't seek medical advice, be on the lookout for odd rashes (especially in the shape of a bulls-eye) on your body, as well as symptoms that are out of


the ordinary and seek medical attention immediately.


Wrap-Up


And there you have it!


All the tips to limit your exposure to ticks when playing disc golf, when and how to check for them, and what to do when you find one attached to you!


With a few simple precautions, you can enjoy your round with the peace of mind that you're doing everything you can to keep yourself protected.


If you have any other questions on this subject, be sure to let us know!


And with that, Happy Disc Golfing!



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