February's advantages for grouse hunters are similar. Since grouse tend to prefer the very thickest cover, midwinter's lack of foliage becomes especially helpful.
McCrady pointed out that raccoons usually aren't very active on cold nights, but a few days of warm weather tends to get them moving. In February, stretches of relatively warm weather become increasingly frequent, especially as March draws closer. Hunters who monitor the weather reports might just be able to bag a few more coons before the season draws to a close.
For predator hunters, February is a happy time. As McCrady pointed out, prey becomes pretty scarce in mid to late winter. Hunters who camouflage themselves well and stay downwind of their quarry have a good chance to call in foxes, bobcats and coyotes.
Electronic calls are legal for varmint hunting. Rabbit or mouse distress cries are the most effective calls.
This winter's benign weather should also benefit anglers who hope to do some February fishing.
Except for Spruce Knob Lake and a few small high-mountain impoundments, the state's lakes are ice-free. So are most of the boat ramps. Launching and navigating a boat should be a snap. With lakes at their drawn-down "winter pool" levels, fish don't have as many places to hide. Such conditions bode especially well for walleye, bass and muskie fishermen.
The secret, as if there were one, is to fish deep and slow. This winter may be mild, but water temperatures will still be pretty cold. Fish might be more active after several days of sunshine and mild temperatures. Even if such a spell never comes, keeping an eye on the weather reports makes for harmless wintertime entertainment.
Trout fishermen should be excited to have such mild conditions. Trout love cold water, and get very active when water temperatures approach the high 40s.
Most Mountain State trout streams are shallow. A little sunshine warms them up quickly. And since most of them are ice-free right now, there's little chance that melt water might lower the water temperature.
So, what are all you folks waiting for? Get out there and have some fun!