Frog season opens in July.
Recently I received a reader’s letter from Jack Toodleburg in Kansas City asking, “I just heard that frog season is open. Frogs are stupid little creatures who sit around all day with dumb looks on their faces. They eat weird things and make rude noises. They stay in about the same spot most of their lives and never bother anyone. So why would anyone want to kill a frog?”
I pondered that question for the better part of several hours with three other outdoors communicators. I asked them to also ponder this question so we could come up with an intelligent answer.
We didn’t. But they agreed that was a good question.
We finally decided to visit a nearby pond and determine why anyone would want to kill a frog. But first I contacted an independent contractor frog biologist. He said to wait. He would be there soon. I should have become suspicious when he asked if we would be armed in case the frogs became dangerous.
That afternoon we drove to a big pond in search of the truth. The biologist, a funny little man with thick glasses and big bugged-out eyes followed us on his Cushman motor scooter. We could barely see him as gravel dust flew from our tires. But occasionally we could see him through the thick dust. He had a determined look on his face with dirty goggles and clenched teeth.
I noticed on arrival that several big bullfrogs were lined up the bank. Most native American tribes called this “Sacawaca.” The frog biologist explained that roughly translated, this means “lots of frogs lined up on a bank.” We took this as gospel since frogs were his field of expertise.
I quickly took a frog posture with my buddies and the frog biologist. We watched to see what offensive or disgusting moves the frogs would execute. We wore green frog suits purchased from The Bass Pro Shop (they sell everything) and sat in a line on the bank to resemble the frogs.
We even tried to bug our eyes out like frogs. I noticed the frog biologist started flicking his tongue at passing flies for realism. We quickly assured him that that much realism was not necessary because it was making us sick. I think the frogs bought it anyway. They seemed to act like we were part of the gang.
After several hours we determined that they were not going to do anything offensive or disgusting at least while we were there. If anything, the frogs seemed to be casting bored looks at the frog biologist who was sitting on the bank while trying to make guttural frog sounds that he claimed were used in mating rituals.
They occasionally turned away from the frog biologist to study us fake frogs sitting on a pond bank and watching them. Each real Kermit seemed to have a puzzled look on his or her face – but then again, they always look that way. I deduced that they were analyzing us, perhaps trying to figure out what kind of frog grew that large. Or maybe they were just watching the frog biologist who was hopping up and down the bank and making frog sounds.
I heard one go “Croak,” although I didn’t know what it meant. One of my comrades suggested that the frog was trying to communicate. We decided to find a wildlife specialist and ask what “Croak” means in frog language. But more importantly, we decided to sneak away from the frog biologist who frankly was scaring us.
I contacted a friend at the Missouri Department of Conservation for guidance on this matter. I explained everything we had done and the results. First he claimed to not be qualified to give me the type of help I needed. But he finally gave in and suggested that I drive to Columbia, where biologists at the Missouri Department of Conservation research this type of stuff every day. He further assured me that the biologists and I would easily relate to each other.
Driving down to Columbia gave us much time to ponder our adversary, the frog. I once broke the silence by asking, who was the first person to eat frog legs – and why would they want to? I received several dirty stares and no answer. After all, it was almost lunch time and no one wanted to think about eating any part of a frog.
But I still wonder who was hungry enough to try frog legs the first time? Sure, I know that frog legs taste good, but they didn’t know that then. For all I know, in 100 years people will think that skunk is remarkable cuisine only sold in expensive restaurants. I wonder who will be the first to try it?
Well, someone once tried frog the first time. Can you imagine what the neighbors said? “Don’t look, Mary, that idiot is eating a frog again. At least he took the skin off this time.”
We pondered a whole bunch of other stuff on the way to Columbia. And boy, did we go to the right place. On arrival, a sweet lady in a sporty yet not too stuffy business suit pointed us down a long hallway. There we found the end of our journey, “The Missouri Department of Conservation Hall of Frog Observation, Management and Research.” I excitedly pushed the door open to find at least 30 frog biologists doing all kinds of stuff. Some were making frog faces while others hopped across the floor like a frog – like the guy we left on the pond bank. But the sign at one section of this elaborate hall really got my attention, “Frog Language – What Does It Mean?”
I found a little man with dark rimmed glasses and a white scientist’s coat. I marveled at his stacks of reference books and stacks of papers with important frog information. He viewed me with suspicion for a seemingly long time before asking, “Did they send you?” I said no one sent me, but I am seeking your wisdom on what a frog might have said to me.
I explained the “Croak” and he asked me a bunch of questions – what was the frog’s voice pitch, what kind of look did the frog have on its face, how did the others react and what did you do?
I answered, “Low, stupid, ignored and nothing.”
He started studying files and listened to tapes of different frog sounds before saying, “That frog called you a moron, now who sent you?”
By the way, frog season opens in July.