Blame it on Duck Dynasty if you want, or maybe on the cacophonous croaking of frogs along the canal I live by, but I have developed an itch for bull frog gigging. Gigging frogs is a time honored tradition for gathering the grub, but just not in Idaho. Warmer climates and abundance of swampy areas tend to breed frog populations. Frankly, the high desert state of Idahois not known for its swampy condition. As such Idaho does not have much of a frog hunting tradition. I wanted to change that dynamic for my family mostly because I love to eat me some frog legs.
Frog gigging considered a summer time pleasure too many of my southern born friends. It is a right of passage to muck through the swamp after these amphibians. In order to gig correctly special equipment is needed. Most notably is the gig spear tip. Think the tip of Neptune’s trident, just frog sized. I called the local sporting goods stores and asked if they had any frog gigging equipment and all said “no”. Undeterred I logged onto Amazon.com and found a four tined spear tip for $3, I ordered two. A few days later I was in the lawn and garden department of Walmart buying a bamboo stick to attach the spear tip and on my way to finding a gigging spot.
My first attempt at securing a place to gig frogs was a failure, judging from the awkward silence on the end of the phone line and lack of returned phone calls. No one was quite sure what to make of a guy calling the City of Boise and asking them if I could gig frogs in city limits. It is clear that fishing is allowed, the river and various ponds are strewn throughout Boise. But the idea of a guy with a gig spear and a flashlight wadding around Barber Parkafter dark seemed to have a few people on edge.
I could not find any rules forbidding me from doing the frog fishing but I was in no mood to get arrested either. I made my way through the phone tree from one department to another – Parks and Rec, Enforcemnt to G&A. No one could tell me that I wasn’t allowed to gig a frog, but no one was entirely certain that I should either. At this time I am still waiting for a call back on the topic.
The quickest way I could find to go frog fishing was to abandon Boise altogether. I called the City of Nampa and asked them. It was a quick and easy “go for it” over the phone. As long as I was not throwing the spear and was not in a City Park after dark Nampa said that I could gig to my hearts content.
With all needed equipment and legal permission granted four of us, Grandpa, two of my boys and I, made the “past my bed time” trek to a local pond. You see frog gigging is a night time affair. A hunter first listens for the tell tale croak of a bull frog. The croak is a low guttural sound somewhat reminiscent of a bull cow, thus their name.
We could hear the croaking of frogs from hundreds of yards away. Stepping into the pond my boots sank about a foot into the rotten egg smelling water. We split into two teams each going a different direction around the pond. I carried my younger son through the muck. We all could immediately see frogs.
The normal pattern for frogs, developed over the millennium, is for the hunter to creep slowly and silently towards the beasts. The spear lowering until at the last moment the frog darts into the water, escaping the hunter. Sure some don’t make it quick enough but this is a well established pattern. Some float out in the water making for harder targets. Other frogs kindly wait on the banks. Some simply croak loudly and bound across the top of the water to freedom and life.
The great leveling device is the modern electric flashlight, the frogs can not resist the power of our Duracell’s. A frog hunter shines there light across a body of water. When the eyes are spotted the hunter must then keep the light on the frog to keep them “mesmerized”. Removing the light from the frog’s eyes allows them to break the trance and duck away. As long as the light is shinning on the frog they will stay in one place allowing the hunter to approach with his spear. A quick thrust into the frog and then a quick scooping motion brining the tip of the gig toward the sky should seal the deal. If all goes well the hunter has just bagged part of a nice meal.
At one point in we could see 27 sets of eyes shinning back at us. Game time. The bull frogs darted, dived, croaked and in general made the evening a complete success. We missed more shots than we landed. But the number of frogs alone gave us ample picking.
I had forgotten my gunny sack to hold the frogs in so I was stashing them down the legs of my waders. Feeling the last hops of a frog against your tender areas creates a memorable evening! Sixteen frogs later (four for each of us) we walked back to the trucks. Our heaviest frog to date was just less than two pounds, he was a total toad.
Check out the pics…