Posted by: patwogan | July 30, 2009

Frog Hunting

This blog is going to be completely out of context with the blogs I have been writing lately, but I think my kids and grandkids will enjoy it.

My folks hunted and fished a lot.  I remember Dad running trot lines with Uncle Dayton when we lived near the Elk River at Glencliff.  We had a little row boat that was named the “Dipsy Doodle” and it was used to set the trot lines and run them in the morning.  A trot line is a rope hung from trees along the river and pulled to the other side where it is tied to another tree.  There are smaller ropes or heavy lines tied to the main rope .  These smaller lines have large hooks attached to them.  Bricks or large rocks are fastened to the main rope to act as weights and keep the line and hooks near the bottom.  The main fish caught on a trot line are usually catfish, with an occasional drum or other finny fish.  Small fish, nightcrawlers, or doughballs are used for bait. There are some baits that are “illegal”.  For example, it was illegal to use anise in the doughballs as that made them too attractive.  I am sure Dad and Uncle Dayton “never” used any illegal means to catch fish.  But they did catch a lot of big catfish with their trot lines.  Catfish were also attracted to “stink bait”.  Stink bait is made from limberger cheese and other smelly stuff.  It is mixed up and set out in the woods to age.  Preferably far from civilized habitats as it really does stink as it ripens.  Catfish are attracted by this smell which apparently permeates the water around the bait and they must also like the taste of it. 

An illegal way of catching fish back then was to gig them.  A gig is a large pointy fork thing which is used to spear unsuspecting fish as they spawned in shallow water.  After a flood, the fish might be trapped in the back water and were easier to gig. 

Another use for a gig and I think this was also illegal was frog hunting.  Frogs were hunted in the Spring after they came out of hibernation.  There were legal ways to hunt frogs and I am sure Dad always used legal means..well, I don’t know that, but I can imagine it was so.

One night Dad, Uncle Dayton, and several teen aged relatives went frog hunting.  I remember this because of how successful they were that night.  The legal way of catching frogs was to shine a light in their eyes and then throw a dip net over them.  You could also use a piece of red cloth tied to the end of a fishing pole and dangle it in front of them.  Frogs were apparently mesmerized by the cloth and then you could either net them or just grab them.  These guys  were wading in the river at night among the snakes and other critters.  I believe they probably earned all the frogs they got. Wearing life jackets at that time was unheard of and  when I think back, it was a dangerous way to get frog legs.

They came back the next morning with forty-two big bull frogs.  I don’t know how many smaller frogs they threw back.  I do know there was a limit on the number of frogs you could have in your possession and forty-two was beyond that limit.  So we were not supposed to talk about that night’s catch. 

The only part of a frog that is good to eat is the back saddle.  That is the back with the hind legs attached.  They are killed, skinned, and the little feet are cut off leaving a tasty morsel of frog legs.  Now these frogs were large enough that the tasty morsel wasn’t too small.

After frog legs are cleaned, they are put in a container of cold salt water.  I know it sounds  uncivilized to a lot of people, but we kids liked to watch them “jump” in the salt water.  The salt in the water caused their muscles to contract and the legs moved.  If you skipped the step of soaking them in salt water and went directly to the cooking process, they “jumped” in the skillet.  (As I read what I have just written, I don’t blame my grandkids for thinking, “Gross, Grandma”)

That night we had a feast.  The frog legs are rolled in corn meal and fried just like catfish.  Their meat is a very sweet meat and tastes delicious.  All of the frog hunters and their families gathered at Grandma’s and ate frog legs with all the trimmings.  I don’t remember what side dishes were served with frog legs, but since it was spring, I would guess fresh peas, new potatoes, and of course a dessert of either pie or cake. 

My mouth is watering just to think of it!

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Responses

  1. I find it hard to believe you wrote a river fishing story and mention Uncle Dayton without bring in the catch phraes—“another ten foot of seine”
    Been my favorite for a lon, long time. Most people that I say it too just wonder what a seine is.

  2. I remember Uncle Walt taking us to hunt frogs just like that around Grandpa’s pond . . . and then you all salting them to show us how they jumped. Way cool!

  3. OK – totally gross. I’m going to read this to Jacob in the morning!

    • I am sure that what you perceive as gross is the frog’s legs jumping in the salt water. It is just their muscles contracting. It was kind of neat, tho’.


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