Bears vs. ticks

 

© Chuck Ingwersen, 2008

© Chuck Ingwersen, 2008

Stephen Colbert maintains that bears are “the No. 1 threat to America,” but I’ve always found ticks to be the greater nuisance when I’m hiking or camping.

Ticks are stealthy, and that’s the problem. You can bring one home from the woods in July and not realize it until September — when your ankle has swollen to the size of a glazed ham. Chances are you’d realize that a bear had attached itself to your ankle even before you got home from the woods.

With a bear, you’ve got a fighting chance. Here are three suggestions in the event you come face to face with a bear:

1. Thrust your arms in the air in order to make yourself look as big as possible, then let out a mighty roar. The downside to that strategy is that the bear might believe you’re a bear, prompting him to mate with you.

2. Try to wrestle the bear into submission. That’s why it’s always wise to keep a Mexican wrestling mask in your backpack. In fact, keep two wrestling masks in your backpack, so the bear can wear one too. Fair is fair.

3. Point behind the bear and say, “Look over there! Boo Boo found a pick-a-nick basket!” — and then run like hell.

Strategies to subdue ticks are much less reliable. Ticks don’t scare easily, you can’t wrestle them to the ground, and they don’t fall for the Boo Boo routine (trust me, I’ve tried). 

The best advice I can give you for when you venture into the woods is to bring a companion who is skilled at looking for ticks and won’t be uncomfortable picking them off your body. I recommend a monkey or TV’s Regis Philbin.

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