Late winter presents an often-overlooked opportunity for hunters in the Mountain State, according to Jeff McCrady, district wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Rabbit, grouse, fox, bobcat and raccoon are in season through the end of February.
"For many hunters, this is the most enjoyable time to be afield," McCrady stated in a release. "The holidays are long past and people just seem to have more time to get outside and hunt."
February can be a great time for the serious rabbit hunter. There is less vegetation to obscure vision, the ground is usually damp enough to hold scent well and the weather is generally cool enough to keep the beagles from getting overheated. Grouse hunters enjoy late season outings for the same reasons. The final weeks of February will be the last chance to hunt with their dogs until fall.
Raccoons are generally not very active during cold winter nights; however, a warm spell can change everything. As the harsh winter weather begins to diminish and the days become longer, raccoons become more active. Raccoon hunters should remain vigilant through the end of the season.
Predators such as fox, bobcat and coyote are susceptible to varmint calls during the winter months. The imitated distress cries of a rabbit or a field mouse work well to attract fox, bobcat and coyote this time of year. While predators may be a little easier to call in during February, hunters still need to be mindful of wind direction and remain well hidden to increase their success.
"With all of West Virginia's late season hunting opportunities, there is no reason for a case of cabin fever," McCrady said. "Success can't be guaranteed, but fresh air and exercise are certainly available this time of year."