Joe Bruhn is making a unique fashion statement in his rural Brainerd community. A fashion accessory that can only be appropriately described as ‘fly’ — after all, it’s covered in them.
After nearly eight years of running around avoiding the influx of deer flies that summer brings around his home near Scott Lake, the 68-year-old Bruhn decided to Google a solution.
“About three or four years ago I went on Google to see what I could do to still be outside but not be attacked by all the deer flies we have out here,” said Bruhn, who added sprays only seemed to work for a short amount of time before wearing off in the sweltering heat. “And there they showed me that blue was their (deer flies) favorite color and that they like to attack the highest point.
“That’s when I saw pictures of some different homemade things people had tried and worked, so I gave it a shot and it’s worked for me ever since.”
Donning a wide-brimmed hat, Bruhn used a hot-melding glue gun to attach a painted blue pop can that he coated with bird repellent found at most hardware stores. A can that he said has been covered with up to 100 deer flies after simple bicycle rides to town or walks at a distance as short as his driveway.
“Just today (Monday) I walked down the driveway and back and never saw a deer fly,” said Bruhn. “But when I got back, I had 20 of them on the can.
“I am not saying you won’t ever get bit (with his hat creation) but every one (deer fly) that’s on the can, is one that doesn’t bite you.”
Bruhn’s homemade deer fly remedy quickly caught the attention of neighbors like Jim McCalvy, who joined in on the deer fly fashion trend after seeing Bruhn’s results.
“I heard it from this guy (Bruhn) and started using it the same year,” said McCalvy, who sported a baseball camp with a hole cut in it and a duct-taped bird repellent covered Solo cup. “I didn’t have any blue paint, so I made green with the yellow.
“Looks nice huh?”
For the self-conscious, Bruhn also attached a pop can coated in the same repellent to the end of a long stick that he said can be nearly as effective if waved around as the person walks.
“You won’t look as bad with a pop can on the end of a stick,” said Bruhn with a smile. “I just did this up the other day. I didn’t have time to paint it (blue) but it does work, the deer flies are attracted to the movement and, like I said, will always go first to the highest point.
“That’s why the always attack me rather than my wife because I am just a bit taller.”
Bruhn even added a blue bucket and stick to the front end of his riding lawnmower.
“I saw a guy (online) who had a bucket in front of his truck,” said Bruhn. “So I decided to try that out here (on his lawnmower). The key is to have it out front so the deer flies go to that before you. Between that (bucket) and my hat I can be outside doing my yard work without being bothered too much.”
And while the deer fly bites have been minimal this year — and the past three years — thanks to Bruhn’s crafty creations, he said his next step is to figure out the mosquito problem.
“I have yet to find a way to get rid of those guys.”