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.

— “Sometimes people say, ‘wait, why is this allowed here?’ because it doesn’t have the tradition of hunting,” said Olson. “People are concerned that when an area that allows hiking and also allows hunting, something will happen.

Jeff Wheeler, who owns Jeff’s Taxidermy in Schaghticoke and is a lifelong hunter along with his wife Robin, wants people to know that generally hunters are very careful.

He has hunted on Tongue Mountain in Lake George and occasionally runs into hikers. He said he makes it a point to be courteous to hikers and they are always friendly.

“If hunters and hikers dress properly, wear the right colors, there shouldn’t be a problem,” said Wheeler. “Always know what your target is and always shoot in a safe direction. Be careful in the woods.”

One of Olson’s interns, Sarah Cartwright, filed a police report with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office right before Thanksgiving after encountering a hunter who had parked in a parking lot designated for hikers only. Cartwright had a group of four kids and their parents with her for a nature walk.

“I told him there was no parking for hunting there and he was not nice,” said Cartwright. “In fact he became belligerent and the parents were very shaken up over the incident.”

In this instance, confusion over where hunting is and is not allowed likely did no help towards assuaging feelings.

“I was surprised to see a hunter with a gun in the parking lot,” said Cartwright. “The town doesn’t allow firearms on trails owned by Wilton.”

Olson said shared use issues will continue to happen, if not increase as the state continues to buy more land.

“On a positive note, it is good that the state is taking an active role,” said Olson. “But people need to be aware that recreational activities on these new state lands are not just for hikers. Hunting will now be included.”

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