Brad Cree and Brandon Berkheimer, both of Hanover, watch the target through the scopes of their hunting rifles at the State Game Lands public range near
Brad Cree and Brandon Berkheimer, both of Hanover, watch the target through the scopes of their hunting rifles at the State Game Lands public range near Dillsburg. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

Travis Schmitt is sticking to tradition this year.

The Dover Township man will join family members and head to Potter County for the opening day of deer season Monday.

"It's a big family tradition type of thing," he said.

That tradition includes staying at a cabin for a few days, waking up at 4 a.m. each day and climbing up a mountain to wait for prey.

"The last couple of years, we haven't been that lucky," he said.

Nonetheless, before he can take aim at deer this year during the two-week hunting season that runs from Monday to Dec. 8, Schmitt had to pick up an essential item -- his hunting license.

He dropped by Gander Mountain recently in West Manchester Township to purchase the license and some hunting gear.

Chronic wasting: An electrician by trade, Schmitt said he had hoped to get out for bear season but was instead working in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged New Jersey since the storm hit the state at the end of October.

Schmitt said he also hoped to trample over land in York County in search of deer, but work is keeping him busy and he likely won't have much time to hunt in the area.

Some hunters who do stay

in the area will face new restrictions during the upcoming season after chronic wasting disease was found in two farm-raised deer in the area.

The disease was found in two deer at a farm just outside New Oxford. Other deer at the farm did not test positive for the disease. It has been traced back to a Washington Township farm, where an infected deer once lived.

No deer in the wild have tested positive for CWD, state officials have said.

However, state officials are sampling for the disease in deer that will be harvested in a 600-square-mile Disease Management Area in parts of both counties. Hunters are asked to take their deer to check stations to have samples taken to see if they are carrying CWD.

All processors and taxidermists within that area will be recognized by the Game Commission as check stations, said Carl Roe, executive director of the Game Commission.

"Hunters will simply need to take their deer to any of these facilities within the DMA, and the Game Commission will be visiting each of the facilities to gather the necessary samples," Roe said.

On the hunt: Luckily for Jason Heberlig of Springettsbury Township, the properties he hunts in York County aren't within the management area.

"Fortunately, I don't have to worry about (the disease)," he said.

Heberlig said he hunts on about five properties locally, many of which are farms.

Over the summer months, Heberlig said he pitches in and helps with farm chores. He also gives landowners some of the meat when he gets a deer on property belonging to them.

Heberlig is mainly an archery hunter and harvested a doe earlier this week in Maryland.

Still looking for his buck of the year, Heberlig said he's itching to get out for rifle season on Monday.

"It's kind of hard to explain the rush ... when you see a deer come out in their own habitat," he said.

-- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.