Hunting and catching frogs during the summer months of the year is a great way to introduce newcomers to the outdoors and to a unique reptile. You might be asking "Why do people hunt frogs?" Well, people fish mostly to eat fish and its the same for frogs. They hunt frogs for their legs. If you've never tried fried frog legs, you're in for a treat. They are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and potassium with a mild flavor and texture a lot like chicken wings.
Frog Species Typically Hunted
The American Bullfrog is the largest of all North American frogs, this giant can grow to a length of 8 inches or more and weigh up to 1.5 pounds. Even the tadpoles of this species can reach 6.75 inches in length and their average life span in the wild is 7 to 9 years. The belly is white, and will usually be green to olive brown in color and marked with distinct brown bars down its legs. They like to sit along the waters edge, or work their way around lily pads and downed timber. The call of the Bullfrog will be a "jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum" sound. This unique sound is said to be heard over a mile and half a way.
The Green frog looks like the Bullfrog but is smaller, adult males have bright yellow throats and are usually greenish brown, with their upper lip and head being more green. This species is a game animal in Missouri so be sure to check your states laws on protection by a season and if there is bag limit.
Green frogs are about half the size of a bullfrog measuring from snout to vent they range from 2¼ to 3½ inches. The green frog's call is slightly different from the Bullfrog, sounding more like a loose banjo string with its explosive "***" sound. Most people have at one time or another heard the nightly singing of frogs. However, to the folks who get out during summer months of the year to hunt these frogs, that singing sound can sound more like a dinner bell ringing.
Where Do You Find Frogs?
As frogging season ramps up, the sounds of the American Bullfrog and Green Frog during a quiet summer night can be music to the ears to those who love gigging for frogs.
Bullfrogs and Green Frogs live all over North America. Frogs are active from April until November, mainly when the temperatures are warmer, and most are found around any permanent standing water including creeks and rivers with a slow current. When hunting frogs the most common places are farm ponds that hold water all year. Frogs will often relocate during wet conditions to keep their skin moist while they’re on the move. So make sure to recheck your frogging spots after it rains.
Tip: One well known tactic to use when frog hunting is to find a farm that has multiple ponds on it, this allows more than one area to hunt, providing a better chance of getting the legal bag limit.
Techniques for Hunting Frogs
There are several legal techniques to harvesting frogs, one of these being gigging. A gig, such as the Bass Pro Shops Frog Gig/Spear which is usually attached to a wooden or fiberglass pole anywhere from 5' to 10' long, is ideal for frog gigging. When gigging, the most common tactic is to walk the banks of a pond at night using a light which aids in finding frogs that are either on land or in shallow water.
Another method is wading in shallow water. Once a frog is found on the shoreline, come at them from the water so as not to spook them. If your hunting on a pond or lake with a shoreline that's very steep or drops off, use a boat and simply sneak close enough to gig. The key to success using a boat or wading is to approach slowly so as not to create ripples in the water. Frogs can sense the vibrations of the ripples.
Tip: If hunting at night, always keep the light from spotlights and headlamps shining into their eyes because frogs have light sensitive eyes and become dazed or stunned from the light. Also, this method makes it less likely for the frog to see an approaching hunter, or the incoming gig itself.
The next technique is using a fishing rod and reel with a Gamakatsu Frog Hook (you can find them at Bass Pro), this tactic is also performed by sneaking as close to the frog as possible during the dark with the aid of a light. Once close enough, lower the line until the hook is under the chin of the frog, the hook is then set by quickly raising the hook upwards, similar to catching a fish.
If you don't have a boat and the frogs are in the water and the water is too deep to spear them, try a frog grabber tool, grab them behind the head and hold tight. You can find a good frog grabber at Cabela's here.
Another way to take frogs that is more challenging, is by using a bow and arrow. This is called "Bow-Froggin". When bow hunting frogs or bowfrogging, the need to get as close to them as you do when gigging or grabbing is diminished. The arrow only needs to be equipped with a sharp field tip like the Muzzy SG-X Small Game Broadheads.
If you've got a larger and deeper pond or lake to hunt frogs, try a bowfishing setup. Once you make your mark, you reel them in like fishing.
Be sure using the bow and arrow method for giggling frogs is legal in your state. Extra bonus, you're keeping your archery skills honed for deer season!
Tip: Always check local game regulations to see what legal methods are allowed in your state. Other methods of taking frogs may include a .22 or smaller caliber of rimfire rifle or handgun, pellet gun, crossbow, or by using a hand net.
How to Store Your Frogs
You'll need some method of storing your frogs such as a potato sack or grass sack which will be wetted down allowing the burlap to keep the frogs moist and fresh. They are cheap and require little room for transport. Another source for storing frogs is the Bass Pro Shops collapsible spring loaded fish basket, also since the baskets collapse, they can be stored virtually anywhere without taking up much space.
An ice cooler is also a good choice but, consider the transportation challenges and some states have individual's keep their frogs in different containers so more than one ice cooler would be necessary for a group of froggers. One advantage to using a small cooler with ice in it is when you place frogs in the cooler, the frogs become very docile and cooled (or dead) making it easier when ready to clean.
Preparing Frog Legs
Fried frog legs can be found in some of the finest restaurants all over the country. However, fresh frog legs are arguably better when cooked at home. They are usually either grilled or most commonly deep-fried in oil. One of my favorite ways to prepare frog legs is by using this recipe for fried frog legs that I found on the Missouri Department of Conservation website along with a side of potatoes and onions that I also fry in the same oil.
Grilled Frog Legs Recipe
12 large frog legs
½ c. vegetable oil
Grated peel & juice of ½ lemon
3 T. minced purple onion 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil leaves 1 tsp. dry mustard
2 T. chopped parsley Vegetable oil
¼ c. butter or margarine 1 clove garlic, minced
Arrange frog legs in single layer in baking dish. Combine oil, lemon peel & juice, onion, parsley, salt, mustard and basil. Measure out 1/3 cup marinade, cover with plastic wrap and chill. Pour remaining marinade over frog legs, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and chill, for 3 hours, turning occasionally.
Brush grill with vegetable oil. Drain frog legs and discard marinade. Grill frog legs at medium heat, covered, for 3 minutes. Turn frog legs, cover, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and begins to separate from the bones.
Deep Fried Buttermilk Batter Frog Leg Recipe
12 large frog legs
1/2 c. hot sauce
2 c. Panko Bread Crumbs, add pinch salt, paprika & cayenne pepper to taste
Peanut Oil for frying
Coat frog legs in flour. Next dip into the buttermilk and hot sauce mixture making sure the frog legs are fully coated. Shake off excess mixture and drop them down into the Panko bread crumbs getting them completely coated.
Make sure your peanut oil is at 350 - 375 degrees before placing the breaded frog legs in. Cook till golden brown or when meat begins to separate from the bone.