- Paddlefish snaggers eagerly anticipate opening day, Thursday (3/10/18)
- Catch-and-keep trout season opens with a bang at Bennett Spring (3/3/18)
- Fishing with hand-tied flies (2/24/18)
- Trout season opener ‘something special’ (2/10/18)
- Snow makes good rabbit hunting (1/27/18)
- Cold weather means good crappie fishing (1/20/18)
- Cold snap brings past hunts to mind (1/13/18)
Final days of winter offer many outdoor opportunities
The probable cold and dreary days of February can cause many outdoorsmen and women to get cabin fever, though it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many ways to enjoy this month while waiting for the good fishing, turkey and mushroom hunting in March and April.
Hunters still have a few days left in rabbit, squirrel, snow goose, coyote and crow seasons. Anglers catch some of the largest bass this time of year from the larger impoundments across the state. Recently someone mentioned to me, “There may be snow on the ground today, but its only temporary. Before you know it, we will be opening the trout fishing parks and getting ready for some good fishing for walleye and white bass runs, and I’m ready.”
Once again the snow goose season will run through April statewide. There is no limit and more information may be found in the Migratory Bird Digest available at places where hunting and fishing permits are sold.
Having an extended season on snow geese shows just how critical the snow and blue goose population have exploded and although hunting pressure has helped bring down the high numbers of snows to the benefit of not only the geese but other waterfowl in the overall picture. The large number of geese on the tundra has caused them to eat themselves to death.
Other outdoor activities available this month include coyote and crow hunting as well as hunting for shed antlers. Jack Marsh, has hunted coyotes for more than 30 years around the state and said, “There have always been coyotes to hunt and this winter there seems to be even more than usual. I guess the low price for pelts has had some effect. I have several farmers that ask me to come out and hunt because they know the coyotes have hurt the quail and turkey populations.
“Even with hunting and trapping, coyotes survive just as an old Native American folktale relates.”
In these folk tales, Old-man Coyote is both a mythic hero and a sacred fool that has the power to come back to life after he has died. At the start and end of these stories, Coyote is always traveling ... making tracks. He travels like this because this is the way the stories show that he is everywhere and his spirit is in each of us. You just can’t get rid of the Old-man Coyote.
The hunting season on coyotes runs through March 31 and the trapping season end Feb.15
Marsh said, “Besides some good hunting and fishing in February, there’s a lot of photo opportunities available this month. You see things that are hidden during the other seasons of the year including some great scenery and wildlife. Last year, and already this year, I have taken some good shots with the camera that weren’t possible at any other time. Last week, I took some close-up shots of bald eagles at Truman. I used to stay indoors a lot during February, but then I found out that there’s a lot to be said about the outdoors in February including hunting shed antlers, coyote, crow and snow goose hunting as well as some good fishing if conditions allow it.”
The dead of winter finds many outdoorsmen with cabin fever, but one activity that peaks this month and offers a way to fight that cabin fever. That activity is shed antler hunting and with all the whitetail bucks roaming the woods today, there are bound to be some antlers laying around for the taking.
Starting around the first of the year, whitetail bucks begin dropping their antlers that they grew for the fall rut. The exact timing varies from place to place and from year to year, but this month you can be sure there are antlers on the ground throughout the state. Looking for sheds puts you in much closer touch with nature. If you are a deer hunter, it also provides clues to the location and habits of bucks that survived the hunting seasons.
Hunting shed antlers is just like any other kind of hunting. The more you do it, the better you become. Veteran shed antler stalkers in productive areas can bring home dozens of these trophies a year. Ben Henderson, Norborne, had hunted sheds for more than 20 years and said, “Don’t be discouraged if you just find one or two antlers or even come home empty handed the first year. You’ll probably find other rewards that will keep you coming back to the woods at this time of the year when more and more people are taking the time to experience this kind of activity. It gets to be addictive.”
Another activity during February is trout fishing at Lake Taneycomo. Some of the largest trout of the year are caught during the month of February. Both brown and rainbow trout lunkers have been taken this month for the past 10 years. Taneycomo is a good year-round trout hot spot, I know several trout anglers who do a lot of fishing at Taneycomo in February just prior to the opening of Missouri’s trout parks on March 1.
Although it might be cold there are many outdoor activities available in February for both hunters and anglers to enjoy.