"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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Hot, Muggy Night--Frog Hunter's Delight 
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

We have had a taste of it in the last week or so, but now Old Sol will get down to business with scorching days and sultry nights. 

It has been said that only Englishmen and mad dogs are foolish enough to venture outdoors under such conditions. I will go that old saw one better--Hoosier frog hunters. 

I do not recall any wild celebrations or ceremonies when it happened a couple of weeks back, but the hunting season on frogs opened June 15. It will remain so until next April 30. 

Frog populations are not what they once were--we probably can blame the burgeoning raccoon population for that--but there still are good numbers of bullfrogs around (plenty for a din-din of fried frog legs with trimmin's). 

The season on frogs (only bullfrogs and green frogs) is closed each year from April 30 through June 14. This is the reproductive period. But frogs are fair game throughout the summer for those with either a resident hunting or fishing license, or non-residents who have an Indiana hunting license. 

The hotter and muggier the night, the better the frog hunting. 

Frogs do their hunting (for insects) on hot nights, by sitting high and dry (but close to the water's edge--close enough that one powerful push with those huge back legs will vault them (a la torpedo) back into the water. This, of course, is the undoing of many a bullfrog. 

The bullfrog's Achilles’ tendon lies in the fact that, if you put a strong light in his eyes, you can get eyeball-to-eyeball with him . . . if . . . you or some other object does not touch him . . . or if the shaft of light is not broken. 

Under such conditions it is possible for a frog hunter to place his open hand (palm down) over the frog's back and pin the frog to the earth while grasping it just in front of the back legs. At this point the frog may emit some really weird noises, which occasionally will scare the neophyte frog hunter so badly that he will release the frog. 

Although frogs may sit in the edge of the water with only their heads protruding on nights that are not quite so hot or dark, they still are vulnerable. To nail a frog in this situation--or one sitting on aquatic vegetation over deeper water--the best method I have found is to slap the frog with the palm of the hand, and grasp it a split-second later with the same hand. 

Here is what the Indiana Wildlife Code says about methods of taking frogs: 

 "Frogs may be taken with gig or spear with a head not more than three inches in width and a single row of tines, long bow and arrow, club, hands alone or pole or hand line with not more than one hook or artificial lure attached. Firearms used for frog hunting are restricted to a .22-caliber firearm loaded with birdshot only. Air rifles are prohibited. Frogs may not be sold." 

Although frogs may be legally taken with several weapons other than the bare hands, I frown on all of the methods that tend to injure the frog. A healthy, live frog can be kept several days in a wet burlap bag if kept in a cool place. 

Once many years back when my wife and I were in the process of building (having built) a house on a pond on Carmel's south side, I struggled in at daylight with a burlap bag of frogs. 

Rather than "clean" them at the moment, I wet them down good and stowed the bag in a cool, shady spot outside the old house. 

When my nap was over, my wife asked what my plans might be for the frogs. 

"Fried frog legs," I said. 

"Not that big one," she said, "I took him to the pond at the new house." 

At first I was a little perturbed at her jurisdictional reprieve of the big guy (he must have topped 16 inches from nose to toenails, and that would have been great chow). 

But when I heard the story about how the frog had escaped the cardboard box in which he was being transported, and bounced all over the interior of our Thunderbird en route (through traffic) to the new house, I could only have a good laugh. 

So bodacious a frog was he, that when my wife asked a house builder for help in evicting the frog from under the car's front seat and getting him settled in his new home, the worker, with a shudder, politely declined. 

Later I brought the big guy some company. And for several years on hot summer nights I could open the windows and, with a smile on my face, drift off into never-never land to the tune of the big guy's lullaby: 

"B-A-R-U-M-P-H! . . . B-A-R-U-M-P-H!" 

This is a bullfrog . . . yellow belly differentiates him from the white-bellied green frog . . . bullfrog is much larger, often more than a foot long from lip to toes of back feet.



All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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