Allergies Outdoors: What You Need to Know

posted on September 20, 2021

What are allergies, after all? Simply put, an allergy is a hypersensitivity or an overreaction of our immune system to a substance that can trigger an immune response. These allergens (which is what we call the compound that triggers the allergy) can be from medications, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, bites or stings, mold and even some foods. If this is you, then you already are aware of possible exaggerated reactions of your immune system to what causes you a simple or serious response. The big danger is for those who are not aware of a problem, and who suddenly develop serious symptoms.

Who is at Increased Risk?

In general, it is usually one who enjoys the outdoors. What can be frightening is that allergies can develop suddenly. As an example, a family member was out at our farm years ago working and was stung by a bee as he did some work. Not a big problem for him since he had been stung before with no side effects.

Because he thought he was not allergic, he continued to work ... and then he started to feel like something was wrong. Right off, he realized this could be the beginning of an anaphylactic reaction. He was alone and we had no cell phones back then, so he was very lucky that he had his medical house call bag in his vehicle, and had what was needed to give himself the proper injection that possibly saved his life.

What this demonstrates is that you never know what can trigger an allergic reaction. This is why many who have had a reaction to a sting carry with them a bee sting kit. Others who hike, hunt and have allergies have gotten from their physician medications and or an EpiPen to carry. If you have a life-threatening allergy, it is also good to be with someone and to make sure they know your concerns ... and how to administer whatever medication you may require in an emergency.


Mold is one of the sneakiest allergens, and there are many kinds. Symptoms of being overcome by mold include congestion, runny nose and sneezing. If you have an allergy to mold, your immune system reacts when you breathe in the spores, which can be common in closed spaces such as a tent or hunting blind. 

My wife loves to turkey hunt with our son-in-law. What they both do after arriving home is to open the blind in case it is wet inside so it can dry out. During preseason preparations,  the blind is set up and sprayed with a heavy duty water repellent as Kiwi Camp Dry. Then at the end of the season, it is again set up and let up in a dry location so to assure it is dry in and out.

If you need to clean a blind or a tent, be careful and follow the manufacturer's recommendations. They generally recommend using warm soapy water and washing by hand--no washing machines! The agitation could stretch and even tear the seams and fabric. Try using your bathtub, filled with soapy water, and agitate by hand. Do this for around 10 minutes, and then rinse it the same way. Then set it up to thoroughly dry, spray it with a water repellent, dry again and only then pack it away in a dry and well-ventilated area of your home.

Tips on Home Storage

The key is to keep your hunting gear dry, dry, dry. To keep items off a cement floor, which can hold moisture, and to allow air to circulate, I made some dollies with boards and rollers. This also makes it easier to move items! Consider storing items in plastic and not cardboard boxes, which can hold moisture. 




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