July 1 is the opening day of Kansas Bull Frog Season, a hunting season that gets little fanfare, and frankly a season that’s as underutilized here in Kansas as is squirrel or rabbit season. Nonetheless, hunting bull frogs can be an action-packed way to spend a hot summer night, and will reward you with a feast of sweet tasty frog legs.
My introduction to frog hunting came when I was in third or fourth grade. Across the road from the neighbors house was a deep drainage ditch that always harbored a few frogs. The three neighbor kids had a BB gun, and when we weren’t behind their barn trying to shoot their big boar hog in the butt with it, we were at the ditch tryin’ to shoot frogs. We were such poor shots with that old BB gun that the frog population always kept ahead of us, so there were always plenty to chase. When we did kill one, it was retrieved and cut open to get our BB back (the ultimate in recycling!)
I can think of no other hunting sport where there are so many legal ways to harvest your quarry, even though shooting them with a BB gun is NOT among them. For starters, you can don old sneakers or waders and walk, or you can hunt from a canoe, kayak or any kind of boat. Frogs can legally be caught by hand, with a dip net, by hook and line, speared with a gig, or shot with a bow or a crossbow outfitted with a bow fishing rig that uses a barbed arrow attached to the bow or crossbow with a reel or string, and even though most frog hunting is done at night, any of these methods can also be employed during daylight hours to harvest frogs.
Nighttime bull frog hunting has additional challenges, but after dark is the standard tried-and-true time to hunt them. A bright flashlight or headlamp is perhaps the most important tool for nighttime frog hunts no matter the method you choose. Most ponds, lakes, rivers, streams (and yes, even drainage ditches) contain bull frogs; you’ll hear their deep, soothing “harumm, harumm, harumm” nighttime calls piercing the darkness. The trick is to creep silently up on them, whether by boat or by boot, then shine the flashlight or headlamp into their glowing eyes, which temporarily blinds and stuns them, allowing the hunter to capture them by whatever method.
Perhaps my most memorable frog hunt was an ill-conceived safari I took with a coworker when I was a kid. I worked with this guy named Frank who was at least 15 or 20 years my senior and the strange thing was I didn’t even like the guy! To say Frank was eccentric was like calling Chernobyl a small hazardous waste spill. The guy had built a huge box kite that he launched from the back of his old flat bed truck by driving like a maniac through a field, then hoisting it into the sky with a winch! Anyway, for whatever reason, I agreed to take him frog hunting that particular night. It was well past 10 as we drove along a dirt road to a creek where I had never hunted frogs before. I seem to remember that I drove, and somehow in the process of getting off the road far enough to park, I slid my old pickup into the ditch. We decided to hunt frogs then worry about that predicament latter. The fact that my truck was in the ditch kinda soured the whole experience for me, and after wading the unknown creek for awhile, we returned to the “stuck-truck” empty-handed and proceeded to try wresting our transportation from said ditch. After a time of “nothing working,” we trekked up the road to the nearest house and knocked on the door. By then it was past midnight, and as we waited for the owner to stumble to the door, or to shoot at us, whichever came first, some kids heard the commotion and stuck their heads out a couple upstairs windows right above us. As they stared down at the two wet, stinking absolute strangers below, their brief conversation I’ll take with me to the grave. “Who is it?” asked one kid. “I don’t know” answered a second. Then a third kid chimed in “Looks like a couple bums to me!”
So here are my tips for a fun and successful frog hunting experience. First of all, go with someone you actually like. Secondly, don’t put your truck in the ditch. Thirdly, find yourselves a farm pond, lake or stream full of bull frogs and have at it with whatever method of harvest you choose. When you get home, butcher the frogs by cutting off the big, white, meaty hind legs, skin them with a pair of pliers, rinse them, pat them dry, dredge them in a milk/egg mixture, roll them in flour or cornmeal and fry them just a short time until they’re golden brown. Their sweet taste will amaze you and you’ll be hooked on Kansas Froggin’. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]