By Josh Boyd
If you have never walked the banks of a farm pond or navigated a waterway by boat, in search of the hearty American bullfrog, you are missing out. The mystique surrounding the bark of a bullfrog under a star-filled sky is truly as unique as the sport of frog gigging itself, which can only be fully appreciated by those who have experienced it.
Outdoorsmen and women whose adventures primarily take place when the sun is still well above the horizon, seldom get the opportunity to observe the bustling activity of wildlife on the back-shift.
Frog gigging is a wonderful way to see wildlife candidly interact with their surroundings. On a recent excursion to chase frogs, I was greeted with some friendly competition, as a group of raccoons had already beaten me to the pond bank, wasting no time in scavenging for aquatic life themselves.
Aside from being allowed to take in sights and sounds that few have laid witness to, frog gigging offers the obvious benefit of providing a bounty of excellent table fare, if successful. However, this success is earned, which begins with coming prepared to handle the task at hand.
A Well-Equipped Gigging Expedition
While the list of gear needed to find frog gigging success is certainly not a long one, there are a few things that you should have on hand.
While some prefer to hunt frogs with air rifles or a .22, the gig remains the most popular frog getter in many regions. Therefore, it is important to have a quality gig at the ready. These gigs can be of the store-bought or homemade variety.
Store-bought gigs can regularly be procured for less than $10, with several varieties existing on the market today. Wooden, aluminum, and fiberglass handled models can all be found readily.
It is also wise to keep a spare gig head in the truck, as an inadvertent impact with a submerged rock can do a number on individual gig prongs. Basic gig heads seldom cost more than $5 and can easily be thrown into a truck toolbox.
In the pursuit of tasty frog legs under the cover of darkness, a quality light is every bit as important as a gig, and it can literally make or break an outing.
The use of a spotlight illuminates the eyes of a bullfrog, as well as their white underside. A bright light shone directly into the eyes of a frog also keeps your approach hidden and maximizes success.
A headlamp style light is often the most conductive variety to success, as it keeps your hands free for the thrust of a gig. A headlamp also automatically keeps the beam of light that it projects centered on a frog as you approach. This cuts down on instances of inadvertently misdirecting the light away from a frog, which will often cause it to flee.
Waders or Boots
Mud and water come with the territory when frog gigging. If you wish to stay dry, the use of waders or waterproof rubber boots is a key consideration. Much of your selection as to which to use will be purely situational.
If you intend to move about from one farm pond to the next, where frogs are often found no further than a few feet from the bank, rubber, knee-high boots are often all that is needed. However, if you intend to work shallow marshes and wetlands, a good pair of waders comes highly recommended.
If you choose to gig from a boat, or if you do not care to get wet during your outing, the use of waders or boots might not be as pertinent of a concern. Again, much of the selection of such gear strictly comes down to personal preference, and what is best suited for the situation at hand.
Storage for Frogs
If your trip proves successful, you will have to arrange a suitable way to store your take until the conclusion of your outing. Many individuals swear by the use of a damp grass sack. Others use a fish basket. I have personally found success using a 5-gallon bucket with a matching lid.
Whatever means of storage you choose to use for the frogs that you gig, make sure that there is no chance for escape. Frogs tend to not always be as dead as you thought they were, and more than one frog has made its escape back to the water when it was assumed to be incapacitated.
Wading about in often stagnant water, while wearing the only viable source of light in the vicinity on your head, makes you a mosquito magnet. If you do not wish to be eaten alive by mosquitoes or other biting and stinging insects, bug spray is your best friend.
Alternatively, the use of a Thermacell unit can be another great way to keep bugs at bay. This can be especially convenient when gigging from a boat, as a field of protection is offered to all who are present. A Thermacell unit can also be rigged up to your belt when walking the banks of waterways, though this could be problematic if wading.
Whether you are walking pond banks or floating through a marsh by boat, a muggy summer evening spent frog gigging is sure to keep you sweating. It will only take an hour or so for you to feel regret if you find yourself with nothing to drink.
Make sure to pack a couple of bottles of water with you before striking out to your destination. If you are not a big fan of water, sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade make great alternatives. Staying hydrated will keep you comfortable and allow you to stay on the water longer.
Cottonmouths love water, and if you frog gig enough, you will come across one from time to time. Though not absolutely essential, it is a good idea to have a way of handling a problematic situation, should it arise.
It is never a bad idea to carry a .22 revolver with rat shot when gigging. If you find yourself face to face with a cottonmouth that shows a little too much interest, you can neutralize the situation.
Gearing Up for Frogging Success
By taking a second to ensure that you have everything in order before striking out in search of eating-size bullfrogs, you will be well-equipped to make the most of your outing. Doing so will keep you comfortable and safe while bolstering your chance for success. Your stomach will thank you for this forethought, as you belly up to the table of fresh frog legs to follow.