In the woods of Williston over the weekend, the hunter became the prey.
"You can see them landing on your hands, you know, looking for veins, watching them walk," Jim Savard said.
Savard was looking for deer, but it was the ticks that found him instead.
"I probably had 70 to a 100 maybe. Big ones, small ones, you know, inside my coat, outside my coat," he said.
Savard thought he got them all off until he starting finding them on his dog that didn't even go on the hunting trip.
"She goes, 'Oh my God, hon, there's one in her head,'" Savard said.
He's been hunting since he was 5.
"And I'm 60 now. So, that's a lot of years. And never, never seen ticks like this ever," he said.
Savard's not alone. Vermont's chief warden says his staff is reporting really high tick numbers, especially in the Champlain Valley. And the state's former entomologist, Jon Turmel, is seeing the same thing.
"We've have mild winters and extremely good weather for the tick populations. And we're also seeing an increase in deer populations. So between the both of them, yes, we are seeing a significant increase in tick populations."
With the increasing numbers of ticks the primary worry is Lyme disease, but researchers are discovering a new crop of diseases they say are equally as concerning.
One that's following in Lyme disease's footsteps across New England is called babesiosis.
"Babesiosis is a different critter. Lyme disease is a bacteria, the babesiosis is a protozoan, just like malaria," Turmel said.
In fact, it's called malaria's first cousin. The disease spreads by ticks and Yale researchers say they're seeing a major increase in the number of cases. Here in Vermont, the Health Department says there have been 11 confirmed cases of it in the state since 2005 and two confirmed cases this year alone.
Turmel says removing a tick properly is paramount: "Using a matchstick or a cigarette or smothering them or just grabbing hold-- that will cause the tick to regurgitate."
Regurgitate those diseases right into you.
Lifelong hunter Jim Savard says the ticks this year are so bad; he's calling it a year.
"It's so bad I said, nope, I ain't going up there," he said. "I'm scared to go in the woods."
Sitting this season out in the pickup truck.
Turmel expects the number of Babesiosis cases to rise in the state as more doctors start to recognize the disease, which has long-lasting, flu-like symptoms and can be deadly if it's misdiagnosed or left untreated.
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