April still reminds me of frog hunting, even though it has been several years since I participated. In fact, it seems to me that interest in frog hunting has declined greatly, and I don't know why for sure.
It is undeniable that not nearly as many frogs are available to hunt, but there are quite a few. Anyone who puts a bit of effort into looking for frogs would find them.
Many observers say the use of pesticides on crop lands has caused the decline. That might be partially true, but there are thousands of acres of frog habitat that have always been far removed from crop land and pesticides and yet do not have as many frogs as there were back in my salad days. Nobody seems to know the reason.
Frogging when I was growing up was of great interest to most youngsters in my neighborhood. We hunted them by day and night. Daytime hunting was not nearly as productive as night hunting, but was reasonably good in regions that had lots of stock watering ponds.
I used to carefully slip up to a point where I could get a good look at the pond shoreline. Usually there would be several big ones sitting on the clean bank facing the water. It then became my job to get close enough for a shot with my trust .22 rifle. A shot to the frog's spine would make it impossible for him to jump into the water. The rest of the frogs usually jumped in, but if you had the patience of Job, you could hide nearby and wait until some of them would come back.
If your aim was bad and you failed to hit the frog just right, he would usually crawl back out and give you another shot if you stayed still and quiet long enough. A boy with great patience could spend half a day on one pond and bag a sizable number of those amphibians, whose legs were absolutely delicious when fried.
Most froggers hunt at night. All required for hunting on foot is a good flashlight and a gig that used to be available in any hardware store. We used small carbide lights back in my youth, and we firmly believed that a frog would look at a carbide light better than he would a flashlight. Those little brass gems were easy to come by for $1. Although they were troublesome to fill and use, most of us swore by them. To improve the little light we often installed a shiny reflector from a junkyard car. The gig was fastened to a long cane pole.
To hunt frogs you simply walked or waded the bank of marshy habitat, usually wearing hip boots that enabled you to improve your range and to give some protection from cottonmouth snakes that love frog territory. A frog's eyes shine brightly in the beam of a light and the white coloring under his mouth makes him stand out. Then, all you had to do was gig him, using a golfer's follow through, and put him in the bag.
The easiest and best way to frog hunt was taught me by my chief aircraft mechanic, a genius named Paul Griffin. We hunted them at night from a small boat with a small motor. We hunted mostly in running streams like Coldwater River and Hopson's Bayou. The boat handler ran the boat very slowly while the frog taker knelt in the bow of the boat with the headlight. When a frog was spotted, the boat handler eased into position for the catcher to reach out the capture the frog with his bare hand. The outboard motor in neutral and idling seemed to hypnotize the frogs. They would sit and let you pick them up. On many good nights Paul and I would bag as many as 50 or more frogs.
My frogging days are over, but I love them on the table. I am happy that some supermarkets have them for sale. The frog crop seems to be very good in countries like Thailand, Korea and Argentina. They fly them in dressed and frozen. Although they are quite expensive, they are worth the price if you are a dedicated frog lover.