Frog Gigging is Fun and Dangerous©

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Frog Gigging is Fun and Dangerous©
by Dale Lee

Table of Contents

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The Desire to Taste Frog Legs

I had heard people talk about eating frog legs and how tasty they were to eat. The legs were said to taste like chicken. When people talked about eating frog legs, they would talk about frog legs jumping out of the frying pan when they were being cooked. I did not understand how frog legs could jump out the frying pan. I assumed the people were telling the truth, but I was not 100 percent sure of their truthfulness. I had never eaten frog legs. I had a desire to taste a frog leg and watch frog legs being cooked. I wanted to see a frog leg jump out of the frying pan.

There is a reason why frog legs are an expensive finger food. It takes a bunch of frogs to get enough frog legs to make a filling meal for a family. When I was a teenager, the only places you could get frog legs were the banks of a pond or creek. This was tricky, because the legs were still connected to the frogs.

Frog gigging was the accepted way to get a frying pan full of frog legs. I had never been frog gigging. A bullfrog would be the target of my plans to learn how to get frog legs to eat. I did not know how my ignorance of frog gigging skills made me very optimistic.

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What Is a Bullfrog

You may not be familiar with a bullfrog. A bullfrog’s skin is colored by shades of green and brown which enables the bullfrog to blend into the grass, dirt, and water in which he lives.

The bullfrog eats any small animal or insect that lives in its world. It will eat small bullfrogs. Animals that like to eat bullfrogs are men and women, raccoons, large water birds, snakes, turtles, etc.

Where I lived, a big bullfrog’s body can be as long as six to seven inches from its nose to its rear end. I have heard people talk about them being as long as nine inches. The stretched out legs of a large frog will be as long as the frog’s body.

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Getting Ready to Go Frog Gigging

My challenge was to determine how I could get big bullfrogs which would have big frog legs. I had shot bull frogs with a BB gun. When I hit one, it would jump into the pond. I had shot bullfrogs with a rifle. Most of the time, a shot bullfrog would jump into the pond water where I could not get them from the bank. I had heard about frog gigging, but I had not seen anyone gigging frogs. Frog gigging is done at night. I started asking people if they had ever done any frog gigging. What I was told made gigging frogs seem simple to do and difficult to be successful. I decided that I was going to learn how to gig a frog, dress a frog, and cook frog legs.

In the sporting equipment department at Western Auto and Montgomery Wards, I had seen what I thought were frog gigs. I had to wait until my family went to town to check out the frog gigs. Each store had two types of gigs. One had three slender tines, and one had four larger and thicker tines. Each tine had a barb on its end like a fish hook. There were no instructions with the gigs. There was an assumption that if you bought a gig, you knew what you purchased.

At a small hardware store near my home, I found the same style gigs. The owner told me that the slender gig was for frogs and the other gig was for fish. I knew which gig I wanted and bought it. I had not heard of a person gigging fish.

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First Attempt to Gig Frogs

I found a seven-foot bamboo pole that would slide into the frog gig’s handle. I attached the gig to the pole with a bolt and nut. I was ready. There was a small pond a short distance from my house. I took the pole to the pond to try my frog gigging skills. It was in the daytime so I did not have to worry about using a flashlight to find the eyes of the frog.

I quickly found out that my frog gigging knowledge was incomplete. I was able to sneak up on several frogs and thrust the gig pole at each frog. The thrusting of the gig pole at a frog is called “spearing” by real frog giggers.

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Several Things I Learned from My First Frog Hunt

1. The point on each tine of the gig needs to be very sharp. You can hit the frog with the gig, but a dull point makes the frog hopping mad. Maybe I should say that the frog would get mad from being jabbed with a dull point, and he would hop into the water.


2. The angle of thrusting the gig pole had to be so the gig points would push the frog into the mud or dirt. Pushing the frog into the ground enabled the points of a gig to enter the frog’s body. Not pushing the gig into the mud meant you would be pushing the gig pole and bullfrog into just water. You can easily lose your balance and fall. If you were too close to the water, you could end up in the water.

3. My accuracy with the gig pole was poor. I found I could miss the frog. I decided I would use a milk carton to practice thrusting the gig pole at a frog. The atmosphere of practicing in my backyard was not the same as being on a pond bank. The milk carton did jump (slide) when I hit it with the gig.

4. I would need to have a grass sack or bucket to hold the captured frogs. You can put just so many wiggling bloody frogs in your jean’s pockets.

5. While around a pond, I need to be alert for snakes. Most snakes found at a pond were harmless, but a cottonmouth, water moccasin, snake which is poisonous could be visiting the pond.

6. I found that most of the frogs detected me being near them and hopped into the water. I needed a longer gig pole so I could thrust the gig at a frog from a farther distance.

7. I learned that my frog gigging skills were limited. I did not get a frog with a gig. I did bounce the gig off the back of a couple of frogs. I fell when I lost my balance.

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Going on a Night Frog Gigging Hunt

I decided to go to the same pond to hunt frogs at night. I quickly found that my limited frog gigging skills were even more limited during the night.

There were no cows in the field. I was glad that I would not have to be concerned with cows being nosy about me walking around the pond or across the field. A big animal like the cow can be very quiet when walking in a field in the dark.

A pond with lots of bullfrogs is a very noisy place at night with different sized frogs croaking. Their noise would help cover the noise I made. The large bullfrog’s makes a loud low pitched sound that can sound like “riv-er-ret.” The spelling is not found in my computer’s spell checker.

When you can’t see what makes a sound you hear, you can get a little or a lot paranoid depending on the sound. In the daylight, I could see what may have made the sound. At times, I could only guess what made some of the sounds I heard at night. Frogs jumping into the water and turtles falling off a log into the water made noises that I thought I could identify. There were some sounds I heard that I did not know what made the sound.

Participating in the night frog hunt enabled me to later appreciate the value of having a friend with me when I went frog gigging. I got a glimpse in to why people said, “You need to have a frog gigging partner that you trust and is not a jokester.”

At night the ground around the pond was not as level as I thought when visiting the pond in the daylight. I realized that walking around a pond which I was not familiar could be an easy place to fall and even twist an ankle. In the dark, grass six or seven inches high can easily hide a hole in the ground that was quickly seen in the daylight. I was not afraid to be in the dark, but I knew things easily seen in the daylight can reach out and get you in the dark like a spider web and a small bush.

I had one Two-D cell general purpose flashlight. This flashlight was good for spotting the light reflecting off the frog’s eyes or any other animals’ eyes the light found. A frog will freeze when light is shined in its eyes. This enables the hunter to get close to the frog before spearing the frog.

The stronger the light, the longer the time period the frog would be kept from jumping. This makes it important to find a frog’s eyes with a broad beamed flashlight and then shine a stronger beamed flashlight on the frogs eyes to keep the frog from jumping. It becomes tricky walking toward the frog and keep the strong beamed light shining on the frog. Moving the light beam off the frog’s eyes can cause the frog to jump. Walking while holding a light beam on a frog’s eyes is similar to walking while balancing a book on your head. It can be done with practice. I now understood the need to have two flashlights with different light beam strengths.

I knew I needed to have two flashlights that were better oriented to frog gigging. Getting the money to buy the flashlights was a challenge for which I was not prepared. I needed to mow more yards.

I had one person tell me that it would be good to get a light that miners used to wear on their head. This seemed to be a good idea, but I did not know where to get one so it was eliminated from my thoughts.

I left the pond wiser in the knowledge of frog gigging, but I knew I had more to learn. I wondered how effective I would be when hunting frogs with the announced goal of getting frog meat to eat.

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My Friend Charles Helped Me Get Ready for a Real Frog Gigging Hunt

I talked with my friend, Charles, about frog gigging. He knew more about frog gigging than I did. He had access to a Four-D cell flashlight which was needed for frog gigging. We decided to combine our resources and go frog gigging. We were going to bring home the meat.

He had a relative that had a farm on which there was a four or five-acre pond. This was a very large farm pond in the daylight, and I found that it was an intimidating pond in the dark. Charles got permission for us to use the pond for frog gigging. Charles had been to the pond during daylight. I had not seen the pond. This was to be a problem for me, because I did not know the shape of the pond and where water flowed into and out of the pond. The flow of water creates ditches which can create a problem when walking around the pond at night.

Charles and I had several planning and practicing meetings getting ready for our frog hunt. We did not have any meetings at night which proved to be a flaw in our planning. We picked a Friday night to go frog gigging. I got permission to use the family car. We make our list of things to take. We packed our equipment.

We got to the pond about an hour after dusk. I could not drive to the pond so we had to walk about a third of a mile through a field to get to the pond.

The fences for several fields ended end the pond. This allowed cattle in several fields to drink the water and still be kept apart. The fences create a problem when frog gigging, because we had to climb over or crawl under the fences as we hunted around the pond. Climbing over and under barb wire fences at night is an excellent opportunity to tear clothes and skin. Getting over or through a fence is easier if one hunter can hold the wire while the other hunter wiggles through, over, and past the fence.

Charles knew that there were cattle in a couple of the fields, but he did not know which fields. Typically, cows are gentle animals. A cow can get upset with humans and dogs when they have a young calf. A bull is another situation to deal with. Some bulls want to protect what they think is their turf. Other bulls are easy going until their hormones are activated by a pretty cow which makes them unpredictable. A bull may be gentle in the daytime, but react differently at night when they cannot clearly see what is moving around in what they consider to be their field. Cows are curious, and for their size they can quietly walk up to you in the dark. This stealth movement meant that you needed to continually look around to see if you had any visitors. You heart can start beating very fast if you turn and see eyes about four or five feet above the ground watching you. It gets more exciting when you realize the eyes belong to a 1,500 pound or larger cow that could quickly decide it did not like you. If the cow developed a negative attitude toward you, you could become a tackling dummy for the cow.

Another cow danger in a dark field is a fresh cow pie. A fresh cow pie has the consistency of a chocolate cream pie that is warm. When you step in one or on one, you can slip and fall. It does not matter if you step in one or on one, the results are the same. A dark brown cow pie is not easy to spot at night. I am talking about the color of the cow pie and not the color of the creating cow. Your boots do not smell good when trimmed with a cow pie filling. It is even worst when stepping in a cow pie wearing tennis shoes.

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Sneaking Around the Pond Bank Looking for Eyes

It is good to go frog gigging when the moon is full or near being full. There is more light which enables you to see where you are going and what is around you. When walking around the edge of a pond, you have to decide how close to the water you will get. The frogs will often be at the edge of the water. If you too close to the water, your walking can cause the ground vibrations you make while walking to tickle a frog’s body and make the frog jump into the water before you actually see its eyes.

Being near the water means you will have more of a chance of stepping into mud. For some reason, stepping into mud can cause a person to loudly say some four letter words. For some unknown reason, the frogs seem to understand that the four letter words mean “jump.”

Being to far back from the water edge means that after you freeze the frog by shining the light into the eyes of the frog, you have to walk to the frog. As you move to the frog, a clump of grass can block the light shining in the frog’s eyes. The break in the light in the frog’s eyes can cause it to jump.

You do not need to be concerned with shining the light into the trees around the pond. Bullfrogs are not known for climbing trees. A fact to remember is a snake can climb a tree.

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Team Hunting for Bullfrogs

It is best to hunt as a team of at least two people. One will control the light and the other will operate the gig. The hunter operating the gig pole will have to walk without the assistance of a light to see where he is stepping when a frog is spotted.

When you have spotted a frog and you are positioning yourself to spear the frog with the gig pole, you are concentrating on the job at hand. Your partner that is operating the flashlight can do a naughty thing to you. He can take a stick and brush it against your leg as if a snake bit you. This will cause an automatic reaction to the person operating the gig pole. You can imagine the hollering and jumping the person will do if he thinks he has been bitten. Of course the person operating the light will get a big laugh out of the excitement. This type of frog hunting activity can cause a person to get thrown into the pond. It is best that the person operating the light will not laugh, but act very concerned about the snake bite. The laughing will come when out of sight of the person that thought he was bitten. When a person thinks he has been bitten, he will need to find out where he was bitten. This means he will need to drop his pants or take off his pants. Boots and muddy boots can add to the entertainment of the pants being lowered. He will feel very relieved after he cannot find the two little holes that would have been made by the snake’s fangs.

Some people may think there is not much excitement when hunting frogs until a frog is spotted. This is not true. A person walking unto a large spider web can cause a person’s heart to start beating fast. When you realize you have walked into a large spider web, you start wondering where is the big spider. Is it crawling on you? Is it going to bite you? Such activities such as tripping over a stick, stepping into a hole or small ditch, slipping in mud, walking into a low hanging branch, etc. can get your heart beating fast. This can be very disruptive to the hunt. Any of these exciting activities often cause a person to yell and/or curse. This type of sound is not normally heard around a pond. Anytime an unusual noise is heard by frogs, it will cause frogs to jump into the water.

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Removing the Gig from the Frog

How to remove the gig from a frog is something I learned by actually doing it. I found out that a frog that is not dead could start hopping when the gig was pulled out of it. It seemed that putting a foot on the frog while pulling a gig out of the frog help can help control the frog. I found that this was not fool proof. Having the frog in a sack or tub while pulling the gig out is a must to help keep the frog from getting away.

You can hold the frog with your hand when pulling pull the gig out of the frog. This can be awkward, because the frog is not going to sit still while you are trying to pull the gig out. The wiggling frog can cause your hand to be nicked by the barb that is at the end of each tine of the gig. Nicked human skin can become infected, because the frog gig can contain all kinds of unseen yucky stuff that can get into a wound. Caution must be exercised at all times.

We had a wash tub in the trunk of the car so we could put the bag of frogs in it and not get wet yucky stuff on the carpet in the car’s trunk. I definitely recommend using the wash tub.

The more I learned about frog gigging, the more I realized that gore is a part of frog gigging. I was not excited about this idea. I would prefer to have a clean and quick kill of the frog.

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Killing and Skinning the Bullfrog

I do not remember how many frogs we took home. The process of dressing the frogs gave me a new challenge. Grabbing a wiggling frog in a grass sack, killing a wounded frog, skinning a frog, and cooking frog legs are challenges as big as learning how to hunt frogs.

We dressed our bullfrogs at Charles’ house. Charles’ mother said we could not put any frog legs in her refrigerator that was not cleaned. The effort we put into to dressing the frogs was more than we were expecting.

The bullfrogs were dumped out of the sack into the tub that they rode in while in the car trunk. The frogs were washed in the tub. Most of the bullfrogs were still moving. Killing the frogs proved to be a challenge and a yucky experience.

We were not sure how to kill the bullfrogs. I decided to stab the bullfrog in the head which would kill it. Charles and I were stunned as the bullfrog hopped about with the ten-inch butcher knife sticking out of its head. Our next attempt to kill a frog was more successful. Charles held the frog, and I put the knife behind the frog’s head and cut the head off. It worked.

We had to decide where to cut to take the legs off. Were we to cut the frog so we had two frog legs or have a wish bone shaped two frog legs. We tried both ways.

The butcher knife was not sharp enough to cut the skin so we could pull it off the frog’s legs. Charles got a sharper knife. I was able to pull the skin off the legs. We put the skinned legs in a pan of water. After dressing the bullfrogs, we put the lid on the bowl and took the bowl to the refrigerator. Charles’ mother had to inspect the frog legs before we could put the frog legs in the refrigerator.

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Cooking Frog Legs

Cooking and eating the bullfrog legs turned into something I had not considered. Charles’ mother was going to cook the frog legs the next night. Things happened and I was not able to go to Charles’ house for the frog leg meal. That was a big disappointment for me. Charles told me that the frog legs tasted good.

I wanted to watch the cooking of the frog legs and participate in the cooking. I wanted to see a frog leg jump out of the pan. Charles and I talked about going frog gigging another time. It never worked out.

I invested a lot of effort that resulted in me not getting to eat frog legs.

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I Eventually Got to Eat Frog Legs

It would be about twenty years, before I got to eat frog legs. While on vacation in St. Augustine, Florida, I found a restaurant that had frog legs on its menu. At that time, the frog legs cost more than a good size steak. The few frog legs served by the restaurant did not taste as good as I thought they should.

The frog legs did taste a little like dark chicken. Chicken, which is a lot cheaper than frog legs, is available at grocery stores and fast food restaurants. A chicken leg is a lot easier to get, cook, and eat.

I can say that I enjoyed the process of learning about frog gigging, planning to be a frog gigger, and participating in the big bullfrog hunt with Charles. I would have liked for the effort to have ended in eating frog legs. I enjoyed getting to spend the time learning how to gig frogs.

If you have the desire to eat several frog legs, use your outdoor hunting skills to find a restaurant that serves frog legs. You can add your skill at making money that which be needed to pay for the frog legs. Be sure to leave a good tip.

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March 2008