When the sun sets Saturday, the life of a bullfrog will become a little more challenging.
Those large legs he uses to avoid predators are also an exquisite delicacy desired by many hunters, and the deep croaking sound of bullfrogs mixed with the continuos peeping tone of small frogs signals the approach of frog hunting season.
Hunters can choose from a variety of ways to catch frogs depending on the amount of difficulty they want. Frog hunting is a challenging sport hunters use to measure their stealth capabilities. Hunters sneak around a pond, stream or ditch after dusk, shining a flash light over banks looking for a pair of shining eyes. After locating a frog, the hunter must approach as quietly as possible and try to minimize the amount of movement on the water.
The use of a gig is, by far, the most popular method. It may sound easy, but gigging requires a lot of skill and practice.
There's a method
The trick to gigging is to slowly position the pitchfork-like points as close as to the frog as possible before spearing it. If you enjoy stalking frogs and getting really close, you may decide to hunt them with a fishing line or hand net. The level of difficulty can be elevated by grabbing them with your hands.
Some of the more selective hunters use a pole and line with a large fishing fly so they can choose which frogs to keep. But it's the art of completing these difficult tasks that rewards the individual with the feeling of accomplishment.
Besides those methods, there are more ways you can choose from such as: 0.22-caliber rifle or pistols, pellet guns, longbows, crossbows, and throwlines.
It's important that all hunters read both fishing and hunting regulations that pertain to frog season. Some methods are listed as hunting and others as fishing. There are three methods allowed under either permit. These are hand, hand net, and long bow. The use of a 0.22-caliber rifle or pistol, pellet gun or crossbow requires a hunting permit. Gigging, pole and line, and other methods using a hook are covered under a fishing permit.
Regardless of the method used to take the frogs, the daily limit per person is eight bullfrogs or green frogs in the aggregate and the possession limit is 16 frogs in the aggregate. The Missouri wildlife code specifies that a person may possess only the daily limit of frogs while on the waters or banks thereof.
Frog season, which opens at sunset Saturday and runs through October 31, begins in late June each year after most females have laid their eggs. This helps ensure that there will be a healthy population in the future.
If you look close enough at the frogs that you catch, you may notice that there are two different species. The larger frogs, in most cases, are the bullfrogs and the smaller frogs with ridges of skin on each side of the back are green frogs. Both types are legal to harvest.
Here are a few tips to prospective frog hunters:
Eric Heuring is a fisheries assistant for the Missouri Department of Conservation.