|South Charleston, W.Va. - The late part of winter presents an often overlooked opportunity for hunting in the Mountain State, according to Jeff McCrady, district wildlife biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources office in Parkersburg. Rabbits, grouse, foxes, bobcats and raccoons are in season through the end of February.|
For many hunters, this is the most enjoyable time to be afield. "The holidays are long past, and people just seem to have more time to get out," McCrady said.
February can be a preferred time for serious rabbit hunters. There is less vegetation to obscure their vision, the ground is always damp enough to hold scent well and the weather is generally cool enough to keep the beagles from getting over heated.
Grouse hunters like late season outings for the same reasons. The final weeks of February will be the last chance to hunt with the dogs until next fall.
Raccoons are generally not very active during cold winter nights; however, a warm spell can change everything. As the winter begins to weaken and the days become longer, raccoons will become more active. Hunters should be vigilant through the end of the season.
With prey being scarce in late winter, predators are generally more susceptible to varmint calls. The imitated distress cries of a rabbit or a mouse work well for foxes, bobcats and coyotes this time of year. Predators might be a little easier to call in during February, but hunters still need to be mindful of the wind and be well hidden in order to be successful.
"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 can."