Monday, August 9, 2021

Frogs and Frog Hunters


Bull Frog on a pond bank


    When my dad and uncles were boys, growing up on the river in the 20’s and 30’s, they often ate bull frogs for breakfast, freshly caught the night before. Old-time froggers found them at night, using a good light which shines their eyes at a distance.  Many things shine in the light at night along our waterways; spiders and insects, sparkling rocks, and other amphibians and reptiles.


    But when you learn what a set of bullfrog eyes look like, you have little doubt when you see a pair of them.  A big bullfrog's eyes looks a little like the headlights on a Model T Ford, right above the water level.


    As long as he is blinded, he will set there, stone still, and you can actually reach down and grab him by hand as long as you are quick and decisive...and firm.  I learned to catch them that way when I was about 12 years old, floating the river with my dad in a wooden johnboat. Back then, our headlights were carbide lamps mounted on miner’s caps.


     I  found out that a bullfrog can wriggle out of your hands if you don't hold on to him tightly.  Once you have him, the best thing to do is put him in a wet cloth sack or wet burlap bag...and keep it wet and well closed.


      The men who ran the rivers and creeks at night, catching bullfrogs by hand as they travel along either wading or boating, were true outdoorsmen.  They came from a different time and upbringing. 


    Those kinds of folks don’t exist today. Most of today’s froggers use battery-powered headlamps so much brighter, and they gig them, which is a great deal easier than grabbing them by hand.  You don't have to get into the weeds or get nearly as close.  But if you gig frogs, you need to know which ones are too small just at a distant glance, because you can't cull them.



     A gigged frog will die in time.  The bigger the frog, the better the eating, and that's what most froggers are after.  Frogging may not be the greatest of outdoor sport, there are perhaps things to do which are more fun.  But frogs are as good to eat as anything!


    There are few people who do not relish fried frog legs. The ones you find in restaurants are not nearly as good as the wild ones from Ozark rivers and ponds. A big bullfrog in Ozark waters may commonly reach a length of 15- to 18-inches with their legs stretched out.  A twelve- inch frog isn't big enough for most, and if he is less than a foot in length he isn't really a keeper. 


    But if he is big enough to keep, you will find quite a bit of meat on the back, and on the front legs as well as the back legs, so skin the whole frog and fry all of it.  Cut off the head, cut off the feet, and then it will skin easily.  Remove the entrails and cut the sheath of nerve fibers in the inside of the small of the back.  If those are not cut, the frog will jump and twitch in the pan and it looks as if he is still alive.


    Frog meat is very white and firm and some people say it is a little like the white meat of a chicken. Baloney!  Bull frog meat is nothing like chicken. It has a taste all it’s own!


    Frogs are very clean creatures, actually, though the water you find them in may look bad due to modern day pollution, mud and algae growth.  If it gets too polluted, you won't find the frogs, and that's why so often you hear froggers say, "There aren't any frogs anymore!"  What they should be saying is, "There's not much clean water anymore where they can breed and survive."


     Bullfrogs eat lots of insects, and they do nail them with a long tongue.  That's why during the day you can dangle a hook in front of one with a little white or red yarn on it and they'll nail it.  Years ago when ponds had lots of bull frogs and clean water, farm kids caught frogs during the day in such a manner.  But bullfrogs eat a lot of things, including smaller frogs, small snakes, worms, small fish and of course their very favorite food, the crawfish.


    The bullfrog is highly favored by mink and coons and water snakes as well, so they have to watch for lots of enemies. Now they have to deal with otters too! One of his greatest predators is the great blue heron, and they are overpopulated right now in the Ozark waters.   Alll those have a lot to do with why there are fewer bullfrogs right now in streams and small waters where there once were so many. 


    But froggers have a lot to do with that as well, as does the degradation of our rivers, increasingly tainted with cow manure, herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer and becoming choked with algae. Some ponds which were clean enough to swim in 40 years ago are now covered with slime. Tadpoles have to survive all that.


    You'll find bullfrogs in future summers where you find plenty of big bullfrog tadpoles this summer.  And any place where there are bullfrogs, you'll find a few froggers in July, but nothing like it once was. Today though, like it was back then, you can't find anything much better to eat than a bullfrog!


    To see the new summer issues of my magazines, visit the website,  My e-mail address is



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