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There are lots of formulas for keeping gnats at bay

April 13, 2012 at 07:21 AM

The State Journal-Register

It’s turkey season. It’s time to take the calling strategies we’ve been talking about all winter to the turkey timbers and see if any of them will bring a bird into gun or bow range.

Early-season callers have a slight advantage. The birds haven’t heard any calls or seen any hunters for a while. Tom Turkey isn’t as suspicious as he is in early May and may be more apt to come a runnin’.

Less-than-perfect callers like me have slightly more success in the early seasons before the dumb birds get deep-fried.

Normally, set-ups are a little simpler in April. This year, the trees and undergrowth are already leafed out. It’s going to be harder to see a bird coming. Mr. Gobbler may be right on top of you before you know it. That makes it even more important for hunters to sit still.

That minimal-movement thing gets harder with the swarms of buffalo gnats that come out this time of year.

Some bug experts say buffalo gnats are at their peskiest when the temperatures are between 55 and 78 degrees. Once it gets above 78 and the water temperatures warm up, they disappear just about as fast they can find you right now.

Experts say only female buffalo gnats bite. That is little consolation. Still, if both sexes bit, we might have no chance at all against those insidious critters that can get in our ears, up our noses and even in our eyes. Just try sitting still when a gnat family has found a way under your head net and is having an argument in your left ear.

Gnat-repellant advice is as abundant as the gnats themselves. Some all-natural sprays containing vanilla or the natural essence of geraniums work well for some people. Several turkey and mushroom hunters say that if you wipe down your exposed skin with a sheet of fabric softener, it keeps the gnats at bay for several hours. It has been suggested that putting a sheet of fabric softener inside your hat will keep the little critters away from your face.

Vanilla extract is a repellant available in your cupboard that often works. Vanilla enthusiasts contend that using pure vanilla extract, as opposed to the imitation variety, works best. I don’t know if gnats are that discerning. I do know that pure vanilla makes your cookies and brownies taste better.

Diluting vanilla in water so that you can spray it on makes it more convenient to use. Some say that the vanilla spray will last longer on your skin if you mix it with alcohol instead of water.

Perhaps the best gnat advice is to try everything and hope something works. You might leave the house smelling like a combination of a bakery, a laundry and a potted plant, but if it helps you sit still and call in a turkey, it’s a small price to pay.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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