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Too close for comfort

Hikers and hunters share a love of nature, but don’t always live in harmony

Deb Hall was hiking recently with her dogs Nacho and Nugget when Nugget’s foot was caught in a hunting trap.

Deb Hall was hiking recently with her dogs Nacho and Nugget when Nugget’s foot was caught in a hunting trap. Photo by Marci Revette.

— With acres of open space, Saratoga County is home to miles of hiking trails and public land that on any given day might have recreationists seeking wild animals and experiences of all sorts.

But during certain parts of the year, the great outdoors can crowd with people seeking their natural experience in different ways. Hikers and bird watchers oftentimes use the same trails on property owned by the county or New York state, both of which allow hunting on those lands.

Sometimes, the two groups encounter one another, and it does not always end well. Deb Hall, from Gansevoort, learned this the hard way recently when her dog was caught in a trap that was set not more than four feet off a trail in the Wilton Preserve, where hunting is allowed.

“What made me angriest is that there are signs at the beginning of the trail warning of hunters, but no signs warning of trappers,” said Hall. “During hunting season I am looking out for hunters, but I never thought for an instant that I had to look out for traps.”

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Signs warn hikers of hunting in area on the Scout Camp Trail in Wilton.

The incident happened right before Thanksgiving. Hall was hiking with her two Jack Russell terriers, Nugget and Nacho. She admitted her dogs were not leashed, but said it’s because they usually stay by her side. She had just turned onto another trail and her dogs were slightly ahead of her when she heard a cry of pain.

“I walked around a tree and there was Nugget with his foot caught in a trap,” said Hall. “Nugget was scared and in a great deal of pain. I couldn’t figure out how to get him out.”

Hall said she called her husband and tried to tell him where she was on the trail. In the meantime, she was calling for help and Nacho was running up the trail.

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