The Story of Skeeter Skat!
Along my journey with Skeeter Skat, many people have asked me…how and why did a photographer come up with Skeeter Skat???
Well, the reason starts with- “I LOVE being outside” but “I HATE MOSQUITOES!!! I know… it’s a large club I’m in on that one! My hatred for mosquitos actually started back when I was a kid. I watched too many National Geographic specials and was worried about Malaria from mosquito bites and also killer bees… but that’s another story! I began backpacking in the 80’s and learned to hate mosquitos even more! But it was really my trip to SE Alaska that started the whole Skeeter Skat saga…
I took a trip to SE Alaska in my small car, packed with camping gear, camera gear and ready for an adventure! I drove up the “ALCAN” -Alaska/Canada Highway, ready to see the Southern tip of the big state! It was Spring and as I drove up through the interior of Canada…the mosquitos got bigger and bigger! Even just getting gas, they would swarm me and it was so bad I would just go sit in the car with the windows up until my gas was finished pumping. It was pretty horrible and it hadn’t peaked yet!
As I crossed into Alaska, it was early evening and I found a nice little mountain lake to camp on. I got my yellow dome tent set up and then got my camp stove fired up for some dinner… but NO! The mosquitos were getting worse with the evening and they became so bad, I skipped dinner and crawled into my tent, many of them following me! I spent the night battling these voraciously hungry blood suckers! I couldn't kill them all, no matter how hard I tried. Finally, I must have fallen asleep as I woke up around 4AM. Bleary eyed I stared up at the top of my tent. The sun was already blaring through as it stays light for so long in the Spring, there is barely any night. As my eyes cleared I could see at least 20 mosquitos hanging above me. As the light showed through their bellies, they were heavy with blood! My blood!!! Absolutely disgusted, I fled the tent and went to my car, desperate for more sleep… but there was nowhere to lay down! The back and passenger seat were covered in gear, maps, travel guides… so I resorted to the only clear spot, the driver's seat and fell asleep sitting up, exhausted from the night of mosquito battle. Later in the morning, 7AM-ish, I woke up again.. .wondering where I was and then realized, oh yeah…it all came back to me. A night of mosquito hell!
On with the day, I went for a hike around the pretty lake. I met a ranger on my way. We hit it off as we were about the same age. We chatted about this and that as you do when you meet someone traveling. She calmly stood talking to me -as I did “the mosquito dance”, swatting, wriggling, reaching to my knee, then arm, then face… looking like a fool! I finally asked… WHAT ARE YOU Using! What brand, where do you get it??? I figured it was some kind of Canadian DEET or something. Oh yeah… back then, I too used DEET! I was a DEET monkey just like many of you! It was the go to stuff to use for mosquitos, especially back then! She said no no… I just make my own. “WHAT???” I said! She said just go to the pharmacy and get yourself a big bottle of baby oil and a small bottle of citronella oil, mix in the small with the big and shake well. She said put it on thick. That’s it?- I said.. That’s it -she said!!! So yeah, the lake was pretty but after saying nice to meet you.. I beelined back to my campsite, packed it up and in search of a pharmacy I went!!!
So the mosquito “potion” as I will call it, worked GREAT, I mean it SAVED my trip for sure!!! I started enjoying my hikes and campfires, the amazing scenery, wildlife and plant life, all of it. So if you are ever in a pinch, and you forget your Skeeter Skat, or didn’t bring enough… use that recipe to be mosquito free. Now I will tell you…it was a life saver, but not perfect… it was not yet “Skeeter Skat”. The thing was the oil… you were greasy, slimy even. It was like you were basted in oil! Like a Turkey!!! Your face, shiny and when you put on your jacket… now you have mosquito oil potion all inside your sleeves. I had to keep cleaning oil off my hands to handle my camera… it wasn’t comfortable or perfect in any way… but at least it kept the blood suckers at bay!
So, when I got home (I was living in the Seattle area at the time), I continued to use the mosquito potion. Seattle, with all the rain and woods, has a lot of mosquitos, albeit not as large as Alaska’s! But still, they bite/suck and carry all kinds of nasty things you don’t want. You really don’t want to be bit by any size mosquito for sure! So this got me thinking… how can I make this better???
And that was the beginning of a many years long trek to get to Skeeter Skat today. I began tweaking the recipe in Seattle but then life took some turns and the development of Skeeter Skat went on pause for a while and a lot of life and learning happened before I finished Skeeter Skat. Flash and I had met and ended up romping around the Western deserts for about 8 years, doing Equine Photography… don’t even ask how that happened… another story, for another time… but we came back to Montana in 2014. I started making and using and working on Skeeter Skat in the busy summers. I began sharing it with friends and people we worked with. They began asking me if they could buy some! By now, Flash was also a convert, an X-DEET monkey and started noticing how much “pre skeeter skat” I was giving away each season… he started asking me questions like “ how much are those oils you buy”? and ``How much are you giving away” ? Eventually he said- that’s it. We are selling that stuff next year. So Fall of 2019, I came up with the name “Skeeter Skat'' and we officially started the business. FLash made me my beautiful logo and we bottled it for the Made in Montana trade show, in March of 2020. It was the very weekend that the world shut down, in fact, they canceled the second day of the trade show… “due to covid”-the three words we would come to HATE over the next years... but that's.... you guessed it... ANOTHER STORY! We had also started our other business, Troutwater Designs and though people were interested in our mugs, coasters etc, they didn’t buy.. But they did buy Skeeter Skat! Even during the lockdowns, I ended up getting Skeeter Skat in 9 stores, you can't keep Montanan's indoors for too long! Today we have many more than that!!! Every year we add more.
In 2021, I dialed in the recipe even further adding a couple of things, really making it bomber proof! This last year 2022, we changed over to the green bottles you will see from now on. Skeeter Skat was oxidizing in the clear bottles, causing it to discolor after a season, though the effectiveness was still the same. We are excited to enter our 4th season this year in 2023!!!
So that’s the “Short” story of Skeeter Skat! Thanks for taking the time to read and thanks for supporting our all natural chemical free product that REALLY WORKS!!!