Editors Blog

5 Warning Signs of a Deer Allergy

Signs of a deer allergy aren’t always obvious. This is one case where they were quite recognizable.

The popular Kenny Chesney song warns us not to blink, and isn’t that the truth. I’m not sure where the time has gone, but almost 22 years have passed since I realized the dream of combining my hobby (deer hunting) with my profession. Believe it or not, I was just a few months into living this dream when I realized I had a deer allergy.

That’s right, the editor of country’s first and foremost whitetail-hunting magazine was allergic to the animal he was writing about. Weird, huh? I certainly thought so.

My first reaction came when I was helping a friend field-dress a yearling doe in mi-September here in Wisconsin. I was in my late 20s then, and I was already dealing with seasonal allergies. It was the run-of-the-mill kind of stuff: runny nose, itchy eyes, etc. They always affected me in spring and eventually faded in summer and fall. As I held the back legs of that deer I immediately became almost completely congested and I broke out in hives on my hands and forearms. It was pretty scary. My friend wanted to take me to the ER. I declined, drove home and popped some over-the-counter antihistamines. That helped subdue my symptoms.

I later visited my doctor who gave me a prescription for Zyrtec®. He instructed me to use the allergy medicine during hunting season and to also use a face mask and shoulder-length rubber gloves when field dressing — or even coming close to — any deer. That was my protocol for years. Eventually, however, my allergy symptoms became much less noticeable. I no longer take allergy medicine or wear a facemask, but I still use shoulder-length rubber gloves simply for sanitary reasons. My doctor indicated that people sometime outgrow certain allergies and this might be the case for me. I’m thankful, because it’s one less thing I have to worry about while I’m in the field. It’s also convenient, because I typically field-dress (for myself and others) a dozen or more deer every year.

You might be allergic to white-tailed deer if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  1. You have difficulty breathing or experience nasal congestion when in contact with deer.
  2. Your skin becomes discolored or itchy after coming in contact with deer hair, blood or stomach fluids.
  3. You wheeze, cough or struggle to catch your breath while in the presence of a deer carcass.
  4. Over-the-counter medication does not control your allergy symptoms.
  5. You’re allergic to other domestic animals. If symptoms occur, see an allergist immediately.

Remember, the symptoms of allergies often develop gradually over time. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergy sufferers often become so accustomed to chronic symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion and wheezing that they do not consider their condition unusual. However, with the help of an allergist, these symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled, and the patient’s quality of life can be greatly improved.