Chiggers and Ticks – Nasty Pests

It is still warm here in the South, it is hunting season, and we’re in the woods. Some of us have been in the woods all summer. Spring, summer and fall are particularly bad since that is when chiggers and ticks have the seasonal opportunity to fest on humans. These little pests are nasty.

Chiggers are the juvenile form (larvae) of a certain type of mite of the family Trombiculidae. Mites are arachnids (like spiders and ticks).


Chiggers are found throughout the world. They most commonly live in forests, grassy fields, gardens, parks, and in moist areas around lakes or rivers. Most of the larvae that cause chigger bites are found on plants that are relatively close to the ground surface, because they require a high level of humidity for survival.


Chiggers are barely visible to the naked eye (their length is less than 1/150th of an inch). They are red in color and may be best seen when clustered in groups on the skin. The juvenile forms have six legs, although the (harmless) adult mites have eight legs.

Chigger mites infest human skin via areas of contact with vegetation, such as pant cuffs or shirtsleeves and collars. They migrate on the skin in search of an optimal feeding area. A common myth about chiggers is that they burrow into and remain inside the skin. This is not true. Chiggers insert their feeding structures into the skin and inject enzymes  that cause destruction of host tissue. Hardening of the surrounding skin results in the formation of a feeding tube called a stylostome. Chigger larvae then feed upon the destroyed tissue. If they are not disturbed (which is rarely the case because of they cause substantial itching) they may feed through the stylostome for a few days.


The chigger’s mouth and feeding structures are delicate and are best able to penetrate the skin at areas of wrinkles, folds, or other areas of skin that are thin. Most bites occur around the ankles, the crotch and groin areas, behind the knees, and in the armpits. Barriers to migration on the skin such as belts may be one reason that chigger bites also commonly occur at the waist or at other areas where their migration is prevented by compression from clothing. The location of chigger bites contrasts with that of mosquito bites, which are usually in exposed areas of skin where mosquitos can land.

A chigger bite itself is not noticeable. After the chigger has begun to inject digestive enzymes into the skin (usually after about 1-3 hours), symptoms typically begin.

The itching persists for several days, and complete resolution of the skin lesions can take up to two weeks.(1)


Ticks are no less irritating. Ticks are bloodsucking, parasitic insects that punctures the skin with a sharp beak. Then it burrows into the skin with its head. Tick bites can carry serious illness, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, other forms of tick typhus, and  Lyme disease.Unknown-2

Ticks are small arachnids. Ticks require blood meals to complete their complex life cycles. Ticks are scientifically classified as Arachnida (a classification that includes spiders). The fossil record suggests ticks have been around at least 90 million years. There are over 800 species of ticks throughout the world, but only two families of ticks, Ixodidae (hard ticks) and Argasidae (soft ticks), are known to transmit diseases or illness to humans. Hard ticks have a scutum, or hard plate, on their back while soft ticks do not.


Ticks do not jump or fly. They simply reach out with their legs and grab or crawl onto a host. Although some larvae have preferred hosts, most ticks in the nymph or adult phase will attach a get a blood meal from several different kinds of animals, including humans.


Except for a few species of larval ticks, the immature phases (larvae, nymphs) usually are even less selective about where they get a blood meal and are known to bite snakes, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Although ticks will die eventually if they do not get a blood meal, many species can survive a year or more without a blood meal. The hard ticks tend to attach and feed for hours to days. Disease transmission usually occurs near the end of a meal, as the tick becomes full of blood. It may take hours before a hard tick transmits pathogens. Soft ticks usually feed for less than one hour. Disease transmission can occur in less than a minute with soft ticks. The bite of some of these soft ticks produces intensely painful reactions.


Ticks are transmitters (vectors) of diseases for humans and animals. Ticks can transmit disease to many hosts; some cause economic harm such as Texas fever (bovine babesiosis) in cattle that can kill up to 90% of yearling cows. Ticks act as vectors when microbes in their saliva and mouth secretions get into the host’s skin and blood. Ticks were understood to be vectors of disease in the mid-1800s, and as investigative methods improved (microscopes, culture techniques, tissue staining), more information showed the wide variety of diseases that could be transmitted by ticks. (2)

There are a number of products available to help reduce the occurrence of bites from these pests. Save yourself a bit some itching and scratching and spray it on before going into the areas where these parasites live.




Running and Shooting with a dog

Most of my days begin with a run. There is one loyal companion that joins me each morning to traverse trails and roads, River, my dog. Running is not her only form of exercise; she is an avid swimmer and is devoted to archery.

Heading into the woods here in NC

Today, we headed out from our home in North Carolina to run trails, cut down a quiet road, then circle back to the trails before returning home. The woods behind my house have a number of paths or trails, which are clear enough to run uninhibited. These eventually open onto a road that experiences extremely limited traffic.

Waiting for me to catch up

Corn, cotton and soybean fields bank either side of the road. Ditches parallel the road. After a rain these ditches are great fun for River to splash through at her fastest pace. They are also her source of hydration.


On long runs I carry water or Tri-Fuel. For River ditch water serves her need. Gels and sports bars are my source of calories while running. For extra calories River relies on hope and a carcass.IMG_0582

We didn’t run far today, however, she apparently found something dead to munch and roll on. Her post run stench meant a bath under the hose. Thankfully, she’s easy to wash – she loves water any time and anyway she can get into it.

3D tournaments are the best, Archers share their food with dogs

After running I shoot and she monitors my progress. In the yard, she sits or lies in the grass never moving her critical gaze from me. On 3D ranges, which are her favorite, she sniffs the foam animals, gets aggressive with faux wolves or coyote, and is ever present in stands.


Training alone, whether running or shooting, can be relaxing. There are times when I need no interruptions. Except when River feels the need to play she is understanding and respects my effort and concentration. When we’re done there is always a treat waiting her back at the house.

Returning from the run

Global Camaraderie of Athletes and Sports

While practicing today I thought about archers, archery and athletics.  Athletes that train and compete in similar sports understand each other’s pain, failure and success.  When I post updates about endurance sports there are frequent comments that express camaraderie and understanding.  The same is true about archery.

Athletes around the globe understand

These posts, thanks to the Internet, are global.  They are shared with archery groups around the planet.  At times someone has liked a post other than a “Facebook” or personal friend.

Archers putting it on the line

 Today, someone in Patialia, India a student at Punjabi University ‘liked’ a few posts from  Frequently, non-US archers from Europe, China, Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia and the Middle East have ‘liked’ or commented on a post.

Last week, from a post about an archery shop in Hertford, NC, PGF Archery, I received a tweet that it had been picked up by the Hertford Daily, a newspaper in Hertfordshire, England.


 Archery, like other sports, break down international barriers to common denominators.  Archers, like other athletes, train, suffer, work, fail and succeed.  As athletes we see similarities more so than differences. 

Training: Going for that perfect shot

 Racing in Europe and Southeast Asia as well as training in the Middle East I never felt alone.  Once, after a bicycle race in Italy, I was unable to find my way back to the hotel.  No one around me spoke English.  Still in my racing attire, and my face showing the “bonked” exhaustion of a difficult event, total strangers came to my rescue and got me on the correct path.

Nope: Not a perfect shot, try, try, again

Similar kindnesses have been granted to me in other countries and in states around the US.  Once I got lost on a long run in Canada.  You might think how does one get lost on a run.  Well, you head out to run 16 miles in an unfamiliar city, lose track of your turns, make one wrong turn, and before your know it you’re lost. Again, rescue came from strangers running in my direction.

UK Run
Finishing a 10K near Bristol, England

 People who aren’t athletically inclined often seem to understand to some degree what athletes endure.  On a 20 mile run I ran out of water.  A chubby guy, driving a truck of bottled water for delivery, stopped and handed me two bottles of water. 

Gathering thoughts before an Ironman.

 Once while running in the Middle East, a group of Bedouins, amazed to see me, offered me coffee, dates and water.  

The state of the world today is not universally wonderful. What is good though are the common experiences of athletes around the globe.  What we share, regardless of religion, nationality, or ideology breaks down to the common denominators of the human spirit.

Noticing a fellow athlete archer in India had ‘liked’ a post reminded me of others around the globe that share our common experiences.


Three Days of 3D

The past three days on the Eastern Shore of Maryland were devoted to 3D. Two days of practice and a tournament. The tournament was held on Sunday, in Delaware, a short drive from Easton, MD. Practice was at the Schrader’s 3D range on Saturday and Monday.

This deer at about 32 yards. Look closely and a stake is about center of this photo at 22 yards. Two distances for variance in skill levels
Having shot this deer on a number of occasions, I have its number.

Practicing at my home in North Carolina on paper isn’t the same as 3D.  3D target sizes vary and distances aren’t known. Schrader’s Outdoors is a quick drive from my home in Easton, MD and where I go to practice on foam.

This bear is sitting smack on 30 yards and is a straight shot at the end of an open lane

Saturday’s practice was unusual; there were lots of other archers on the range. Typically, the 3D range is empty. With hunting season opening people had dusted off their bows, brought out their shiny new bows, filled quivers with newly fletched arrows and were out to take aim on foam. It was clear many of these would be bow hunters had not practiced in some time.


This turkey is fairly easy at 20 yards, a straight shot. Someone left an arrow in the tree behind it.

The range at Schrader’s is certainly large enough for safety, but privacy isn’t guaranteed. Walking past clusters of bowmen it was obvious their dreamed of prey would be safe from these seasonal archers testing their skill.

A more challenging target from this stand. The deer is at the end of the lane and can just be seen

Two young men I noticed seemed more appropriately dressed for golf or tennis than practice on a muddy, tick and chigger infested 3D range. Those boys were going to be a feast for the little parasites infesting the bushes behind the targets. Both of them seemed to be spending a lot time searching for arrows in the underbrush.

Chiggers are the larval (juvenile) form of a common mite from the family known as Trombiculidae

Following Sunday’s tournament in Delaware I headed back to Schrader’s. I’d be in North Carolina on Tuesday and as yet have no 3D targets of my own. The closest range is over an hour’s drive away. In Maryland the drive to a 3D range is about 25 minutes.  Also,  Monday meant people would be working and I’d have the range to myself.

Schrader’s Outdoors in Henderson, MD

On the range I found broken arrows, arrows dropped on paths then overlooked, and arrows sticking in the trees behind targets. While the target placement at Schrader’s isn’t a pushover, the course has stakes placed so that most people can hit foam. Apparently, many peoples’ ego overrode their skill and they shot further out than their expertise could support.

Someone’s broken Carbon Express left where there was once an antler

When I was in my late teens I worked at hunting club, “Hall Brothers Hunting Club” near Savannah, GA. Frequently, guests would arrive with expensive equipment and no clue how to hunt or shoot. We ensured they left with a trophy if that was their goal even if someone else took the gun from their hands, shot the animal, handed the gun back and exclaimed to the client, “Nice shot!” Watching people on Saturday reminded me of those days. Seeing the remains of their arrows on Monday confirmed my suspicion.


This elk sits at stake 29.  The next target is a boar 18 yards from the stake.

3D is very different from shooting at flat paper, clearly defined targets and known distances. I enjoy both types of shooting. Each has its own set of challenges. It was good to get back to Maryland to practice 3D and to compete in Delaware.

Skipping West Virginia and Landing in Delaware

The West Virginia State Championship 3D tournament was held this weekend. It was a qualifier for the IBO World Championship. It would be good to qualify early for 2015 and not worry about qualifying during the spring of 2015. Several of my friends were there to compete.   The drive was going to be a bear. For the past few months I have stayed on the road. The night before I was to head to West Virginia I learned the Mid-Del Archery Club was holding a 3D tournament in Delaware. Rather than get up at 03:30 in the morning, to drive for three hours, my plans changed and I’d head to Delaware.



Delaware borders Maryland and Mid-Del’s 3D tournament was only a 30-minute drive. Their 3D course isn’t the most difficult I have shot but it is one of the most well maintained. Walking their range you can quickly see the work and pride that goes into maintaining the course.


As usual, I arrived alone hoping to find a group to team up with for shooting and scoring. Approaching registration I eyed folks looking for a welcome face or group. Entering the clubhouse reception came from Jim and Clyde, two of the Mid-Del officers. Both were working the registration desk and wouldn’t be competing.


After getting the paperwork complete I headed back to the parking lot wanting to find a group with which to shoot. Bart Shortall, an ex-pro was there but not shooting. Bart has recently become the National Sales Manager for 60X Custom Stings and was out promoting that company. Then I recognized someone I’d seen at many tournaments, Steve Dunaway.

Bart Shortall, National Sales Manager for 60X Custom Strings

Steve is a “big league” shooter. He often travels with a group of archers shooting in the MBO or open class. I’d last seen Steve at the IBO World Championships a few weeks ago. I asked Steve if I could tag alone so my scores could be officially recorded and he welcomed me to come along.

Steve on his way to a winning score
Steve and I shooting pair of Xs
This wolf was deceiving and left us with a pair of 10s

I’d been wanting to shoot with Steve for some time. We’d had brief conversations at other competitions and he looked like an interesting fellow. In his case, the look didn’t deceive. Steve is a great conversationalist and indeed an interesting guy.

The shadow and light on this deer made for a difficult X

We worked our way over the course slowed only by the group ahead of us. Steve is a tremendous shot and finished the day with a 306. He’d competed the day before at the West Virginia State’s Saturday schedule where he’d been caught in a downpour of rain. The West Virginia State 3D Championship ran Saturday and Sunday.

The group ahead, the guy sitting is not smoking. He chewed a plastic straw the entire morning

I finished with a satisfactory score, a personal best. I also ended up not making a long drive to West Virginia. There will be another qualifier in the spring. I’ll make one of those in hopes of scoring another World Championship opportunity. Seeing Jim and Clyde was a pleasure. Before leaving Jim and I shot together for a while on their practice range. Aside from shooting well, it was a memorable morning shooting with Steve and seeing friends from Delaware.

PGF Archery and Bumper

PGF is a small archery shop operated out of the owner’s garage. The owner, Bumper Williams, operates his business on a limited schedule. He works full time as a police investigator so archery is a part-time enterprise.


His shop, while small, is staffed an expert bow technician, the proprietor, Bumper. As yet, the history of the name Bumper is a mystery to me. However, the solid bulk of the man does lead to speculation.

Bumper Williams

Bumper turned out to be a diamond in the rough of “experts” that have fiddled with my bows. My Mathews Conquest Apex 7 has not shot right or sounded right for months. When I release an arrow is vibrates and rattles so violently I have stopped shooting it entirely.

Seeking help I went to PGF, an archery shop identified to me by Norman Mitchell of Elizabeth City. PGF is near Hertford, NC. There I explained my problems to Bumper.

After a quick visual assessment, Bumper identified a number of problems. He made two fast adjustments that proved positive during the limited time he had available. Later, I’ll leave the bow with him so that he can make further adjustments.  The Mathews Apex 7 is an expensive bow. It is a same not be able shoot it. Sadly, it has been out of commission for about three months.

A few of Bumper’s “Robin Hoods” on display

With the Apex 7 out of service I’ve been shooting my Mathews ZXT for many 3D competitions. While this is a great hunting bow, it isn’t Mathews’ top of the line, particularly for 3D competition. Bumper, looking at that bow noticed, and pointed out, technical problems, which are repairable.

Accuracy with a bow demands refinement of minor details. My current level of technical expertise is that of a novice. My focus has been on form and practice trusting the technical experts to listen to me and make the perfect adjustments. After sessions with these experts my ‘gut’ told me they were intermediate level technicians at best. I should always listen to my ‘gut’. My ‘gut’ tells me Bumper knows his business.

It was a very nice surprise to find such reliability in a bow shop, PGF. Bumper truly knows his business and I am confident with his workmanship.


Country Life on Little River

Sunrise on Little River

Living in the country we don’t have shopping malls, boutique stores, or traffic. The nearest grocery store is a 40-minute drive on back roads. Gas is nearly an hour away. Many people here grow their own produce and hunt for meat, which they process to eat or freeze for future consumption. In fact, my neighbor’s deer stand is about 150 yards from my front door. Life in the country is not like living in a city.

View of Little River
Migrants the water

At night we have no artificial noise or light to impose on the natural environment. During the day I can practice archery in my yard, ride a bike practically car free, run unencumbered, swim in the river, hunt, fish and crab from my property.

Hunting on the water
A meal for somebody

Neighbors with farms or gardens share produce.  They also share fish, crab and meat.  Of course many of these folks sale their produce and many have roadside produce stands.  We frequently buy from them.  Still others will share their harvest rather than seeing it go to waste. It is hard to beat the taste of a freshly grown tomato sliced and placed on soft bread covered with Duke’s Mayonnaise.

River pauses on a run to take a sniff

Morning on Little River nearly always begins with a run.  River, a labrador retriever, is my dedicated running partner. She can run then stop to sniff and investigate leash free. After running I typical spend an hour or more shooting at targets placed around my yard. I can shoot flat, off my porch, or from the upstairs deck.

IMG_1953 IMG_0224

Frequently, after shooting, I head out on my Carolina Skiff or go kayaking, swimming or paddle boarding.

Locals enjoying the water

The water is less than 20 yards from my back deck. Here in the South we’re on the water year round.

Kayaking near my home

Following lunch is the perfect time for a bike ride. I’ve got riding courses planned up to 100 miles and minimal if any traffic with which to deal.

Passing over a small swampy creek


These courses pass over creeks, rivers, through swamps, and small almost forgotten towns. 

Another local in the water

As the day approaches dusk it is time to practice with the bow, again.  The lighting is different.  Dusk is a good time to hunt and practice at this time of day may pay dividends in the future.

Stand within 150 yards of my front door

Living in the country there are worries beyond someone stealing the family car from a mall parking lot, the nuisance of loud obnoxious ‘music’, rush hour traffic, and other less pleasing attributes of city life.  

IMG_1095 IMG_1952

Coyote shot by Jimmy C in the woods behind our house

In this very rural area we worry that wolves or coyote will eat a pet and take precautions to prevent that from happening. We worry about bears in the yard and deer on the deck eating our plants.

Photo by Jimmy C, my neighbor.

We’re always on the look out for snakes and rabid raccoons.

Sitting in a tree on my property

But, at night, we can sit outside, see the stars, hear owls, and listen to water lapping the shore of the river. Life seems better in the country.

Night on Little River

Archery and Fitness, Part 2

Shooting around the country, I have noticed a number of heavy archers. Being overweight is not isolated to archery.


Too often we over eat and gain excess calories. These calories add up, putting us at high risk for declining fitness. Improper diet and a lack of exercise lead to becoming overweight and perhaps finding archery more and more difficult to perform. Long term this often results in individuals needing medical attention. Weight control and exercise are excellent low cost methods of preventative medicine. They can help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and a variety of sleep disorders.


A good diet is easier than it seems. Count your caloric intake, and measure it against your daily caloric burn. It only takes a deficit of 3,500 calories per week to lose one pound per week. Removing chips, candy, ice cream, and fast food from your diet and adding exercise is a better healthy life style. Of course, you will find excuses to skip exercise and grab a burger at the drive-thru window. Of that, we are all guilty. But, remember, everything comes with a price.

Thrill in the Hills3
Trail running is a blast

Someone recently said to me, “I am here for a good time, not a long time.” He is getting his wish. He is 48-years-old, has had both hips replaced, smokes, drinks excessively, is obese, has obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and the list goes on. I expect he will get his wish – he will mostly likely be here a short time. He has been a hospital patient more times than I can recall. Where is the fun in that?

Adding a general fitness program to your archery training can improve your overall health

Eagleman Bike

Making time to exercise should be paramount on your list of daily living activities. I travel a lot to compete in archery, which means I must plan my fitness training in advance. There is a YMCA at nearly all my destinations. I use the YMCA to swim. Running is easier; it is always available and cheap. Cycling is more demanding. If I’m traveling by car, I often bring a bike. Beforehand, I search Map My Ride for courses other cyclists have downloaded. Or I call the local bike shop to see if they have a scheduled ride from their shop while I am in town.


Over the years, I have created a network of friends across the globe with whom I train. This is true for endurance sports as well as archery.

Someone yelled, “Get Him!” and they were all looking at me.

Talk among the friends you shoot with, start your own fitness group. You will have support and it will promote espirit de corps. Make a plan to become better fit for hunting, 3D tournaments, and the rigors of long indoor competition. Take time for your health; you desire it.

You may enjoy running in a group, especially if that group’s members are your fellow archers

August reveals continued growth

Retirement doesn’t mean spending days sitting in a recliner watching television. For me it meant freedom to pursue another career, one in sports. The disciple I selected for that adventure is archery.


My progress is chronicled on this website, Aside from blog information, on the site are collections of archery research and short biographies of interesting characters in archery.

A number of interesting characters in archery

In the six months since the site’s inception there have been 29,238 visits, 53,157 pages read, and 484,332 hits. Thanks to everyone who reads my writing. I appreciate your support and understanding of my mixed grammar, poor punctuation, typographical errors and oversights.

Stats from GoDaddy.