PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Firearms deer season is underway.

Hundreds of thousands of hunters headed into the woods of Pennsylvania early this morning in hopes of snagging a buck.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials say they were expecting 750,000 hunters statewide to take part in this opening day of deer season.

For many in western Pennsylvania, today marks a family tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

“It’s just part of our heritage. It’s in the DNA of people that live in Allegheny County,” said Pa. Wildlife Conservation Officer Gary Fujak.

Clad in fluorescent orange, hunters have taken to the woods this day for the beginning of Pennsylvania’s general firearms hunting season for deer.

Chuck Lindell, Sr. joined dozens of other licensed hunters this morning in Wexford at the state game lands.

“I just enjoy getting out in the woods and clearing my mind,” said Lindell. “I was really hoping to get a doe; they’re big down here and they’re corn fed, and there’s a lot of them out here.”

The sport, according to Fujak, helps harvest deer in these developed communities.

“When hunters are out there, they need to keep that in mind, that they’re actually providing a good public service to manage our deer population here,” he said.

Fujak is also urging hunters over the next two weeks to be honest and use common sense about adhering to antler restrictions and making sure that deer that have previous injuries aren’t consumed.

Fujak joined The KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway to offer advice to hunters as well as talking about chronic wasting disease and if it affects your venison.

The disease that causes lesions in a deer’s brain shouldn’t affect those hunters that plan to eat the deer they hunt.

“If they harvest it and get it home and they eat it, it’s not going to be a health risk to the hunter and his family,” says Fujak.

He adds, “It’s a disease that showed up in Pennsylvania. It’s here to stay. The best thing the Game Commission can do to control it, and that’s why we have these deer management areas, where if you harvest a deer in those areas, the deer can’t be removed from those areas.”

The disease is “mostly in the central part of the state and up in Jefferson County,” says Fujak.

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