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I've spent a lot of times in the woods and on the water, and travel to and from Maine frequently to see family. And during all of these outings and car trips, I have seen a moose once — in a farm field in Whitehall, where it hung out with cows for weeks.

The Northeast's moose population was growing for years, but mortality from a pest known as winter ticks has knocked their numbers down significantly around New England, and slowed the migration here in the Adirondacks.

Ten or fifteen years ago, it wasn't a big deal to hear reports of moose around here. They had become fairly common. Now, as seen with the hype around a moose sighting on Route 3 in the northern Adirondacks last week, it is a big deal to see one again.

My wife and I are pretty observant hikers, taking in the sights and sounds of our local forests and wilderness. We count salamanders, note the size and colors of toads, she takes pictures of mushrooms, I scout possible fishing spots. We like to think we get the full experience when we are out on the trails.

I wrote the other day about our recent trip to Boreas PondsBut I didn't mention what we saw on the way out, and apparently narrowly missed.

As we walked out, we noticed some large, unusual tracks in dirt that had recently been graded, south of First Pond. With the size of the prints, and distance between them, it was apparent it was either the world's biggest buck, or a moose.

What was interesting is we had walked the same route an hour earlier, and the tracks weren't there. There is no way we would have missed them.

So this moose probably hadn't been too far ahead of us. We followed the tracks for a good half mile, and then saw they veered west into the woods and disappeared. There was no sign of the animal at that point.

We had just missed a chance to see a moose in the wild, though running into a thousand-pound animal in the woods would undoubtedly be a bit nerve-wracking. Yes, they are generally scared of us. But not always.

The old adage is that you don't have to be the fastest member of the group when fleeing danger, just not the slowest. My wife might have been in some trouble.

-- Don Lehman

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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