The moonless night made the small lake pitch black. Crickets and frogs made unbelievably loud noises while fireflies illuminated nearby fields. An occasional splash of fish feeding on insects made me wish we had brought flyrods instead of a flashlight and netted bag.

The moonless night made the small lake pitch black. Crickets and frogs made unbelievably loud noises while fireflies illuminated nearby fields. An occasional splash of fish feeding on insects made me wish we had brought flyrods instead of a flashlight and netted bag.
I joined an ex-Army Green Beret, Paul Ditweiller, many years ago while paddling a canoe in search of our camp dinner, frog legs. We moved across the lake quietly as possible toward the lake’s shallow end. The frogs were raising a ruckus, providing evidence that we were headed in the right direction.
The stocky man who had just returned from Vietnam assured me that we did not need a frog gig. He was an expert of living off the land, so I took his word for it.
We quickly reached the reeds that were just off shore in shallow water. The canoe easily slid through, making scratching noises on the bow. The mud shoreline lay just ahead. I wondered what was laying in wait on that pitch black shore, beside the frogs that were doing quite a job of singing.
Ditweiller snapped on his battery-powered lantern and the shoreline illuminated with light reflecting off eyes. He had explained how we were going to do this before leaving camp.
“Frogs can hear, so don’t talk,” he cautioned me. “I will shine my light directly in a frog’s eyes and you reach over and grab it. The light will hypnotize the frog as long as you don’t break the beam of light. So make sure you don’t pass your hand through the beam, or the frog will jump and be gone.”
I had to wonder about the aggressive water snakes that were more than common on that lake. Many of you already know that I have never liked snakes. I found out later that my fears were quite correct.
Ditweiller positioned his canoe and rowed me straight into shore. I took a long look at the first big bullfrog while moving closer, got ready and grabbed the shocked frog and a handful of mud. The frog immediately straightened out as I withdrew my hand, mixed in with the mud and squirted out of my hand and into the canoe.
We finally caught the frog that was hopping from place to place, looking for any escape. I tossed him in the netted sack and we continued. The frog hopped a few more times in the sack and then settled down. We continued down the lake and caught four more. The frogs were being very cooperative as we licked our chops in anticipation of a frog-leg dinner.
“People pay a lot of money for frog legs in restaurants,” I bragged.
“Yeah,” Ditweiller said. “They do and we will dine on them for free tonight. It won’t take long to get the skillet and grease hot. We’ll fry some potatoes too.”
“You bet,” I answered, already hungry.
Later that evening we found a family of raccoons raiding our shoreline. We watched as they ignored the lantern light and chased after snails, crawfish or whatever a raccoon eats. The young ones were more interested in attacking mama’s tail. The patient lady ignored the young brats and continued shopping. We decided to let them have that stretch of shoreline and paddle across to another frog haven.
Soon we slipped into another hot spot of frog chatter. The light beam picked up many eyes, including an evil red pair that I did not pay attention to, thinking it was another frog. We maneuvered into our attack position and slipped toward shore. I looked straight at my targeted frog, slipped my hand out and suddenly caught another movement.
A huge water snake was slipping in on the same frog and striking as I slipped my hand in its direction. I jerked my hand back and just missed being bitten by the aggressive snake. The lucky frog escaped and the snake continued after us, canoe and all. Common water snakes are not poisonous, but very aggressive and this one was angry and ready to fight.
The snake followed us out in the water as Ditweiller paddled for all he was worth. The strong man could quickly propel the canoe, but was no match for a swimming water snake. The crazy reptile started striking at our canoe.
Ditweiller slapped his paddle at the snake, hoping to scare it away, but the snake kept on coming. I had visions of the reptile climbing into the canoe while I dove into the lake. Ditweiller had seen worse things in Vietnam, but was not overly excited about the snake visiting us. We paddled back across the lake with the snake swimming after us. Soon it apparently started feeling fatigue and fell behind. Eventually it disappeared into the darkness.
Back at camp I picked up the bag of frogs and started walking across a small dock. Suddenly I heard a big “plop” and turned to see the frogs hopping all over the dock. The bag had a hole in it that became larger with the frogs added weight. I helplessly watched as our dinner disappeared into the lake. Soon I joined the frogs, propelled by an angry ex-Green Beret. I recall that the water was exceptionally warm that night.
Frog season opens in July in most Midwestern states. There are several good methods of harvesting frogs including grabbing, stabbing, shooting and other horrible ways. The key is safety. Let’s take a look at methods of harvesting a frog leg dinner.
SHOOTING: I highly recommend that you don’t shoot frogs. The problem is, bullets reflect off water the same as shooting at a rock. I saw a guy’s bullet hit his brother in the leg off such a ricochet. We were lucky that the boy did not get killed.
STABBING: Buy a trident gig, attach it to an old broom handle and go frog hunting. You can use the flashlight method mentioned in the story or sneak around in the daytime. Frogs sometimes spook easily and sometimes they sit still and are impaled. I didn’t say they were the smartest critters in the pond. Most frog hunters stab them in the back, a dirty deed from a frog’s prospective.
GRABBING: Grabbing as described in the story is effective. You won’t grab many frogs in the daylight; they are not that dumb. But you can get a lion’s share at night, especially when the water is low and mud banks are exposed. Otherwise, frogs stay in the grass making them easy prey for all predators except humans.
RED RAGS: All country kids know that a frog will bite anything red held in front of their face. They will do the same for a well placed popping bug when you are bluegill or bass fishing with a flyrod. Many simply place a small piece of red material on a hook and go frog hunting. This does require a bit of stealth, so approach your frog haven very, very slowly and, as Elmer Fudd would say, “Be very, very quiet.”
Frog hunting is fun and a good way to enjoy an otherwise expensive meal. The last menu I saw featuring frog legs proudly advertised four frogs’ legs with the trimmings for $23. Just make sure your frog bag does not have a hole in it.