JEFFERSON CITY, Mo (MDC) - Deer hunters do it. So do turkey hunters. Even trout anglers spend time scouting the locations of their quarry. So why not frog hunters?
Missouri's frogging season opens at sunset June 30, but waiting until then to take flashlight and gig in hand surrenders an important advantage to the slippery amphibians. Frogs are intimately familiar with the approaches and escape routes to their favorite perches. Smart froggers level the playing field by checking the lay of the land- or swamp - beforehand.
Scouting can be as simple as sitting in a lawn chair at your favorite frogging spot, taking note of where big male frogs are calling. Obsessive froggers have been known to skulk through a 40-acre marsh mapping individual frogs' precise locations with GPS waypoints. Either way, scouting helps avoid wasted time and effort locating frogs and the best ways to reach them in the dark.
Getting your feet wet before the season opens offers distinct advantages. You can bring along pruning shears and remove low-hanging branches that block access to remote spots. You also can discover how close certain frogs will let you approach and which direction they habitually jump.
Beyond the obvious advantage of improving your chances of success, scouting out frogging spots a few days before the season is a pleasant excuse to spend time outdoors on early summer evenings. And your presence might keep the criminal element at bay.
Conservation agents know that a small number of poachers like to beat legitimate froggers to the punch by jumping the gun on the season, and more than one frogger has arrived at his or her chosen spot on opening night only to find it nearly empty of keeping-sized frogs. If you observe illegal frogging, you can report it using the toll-free Operation Game Thief Hotline, 800-392-1111. Reports can be made anonymously, or you can leave contact information to qualify for a cash reward if your report leads to a conviction.
The limit for frog hunters is eight bullfrogs or green frogs in the aggregate daily, and 16 in possession. The period for counting limits ends at midnight each day. Consequently, froggers can legally take a limit of frogs between sunset and midnight June 30 and then catch another limit after midnight on July 1. To do this legally, you must keep the first eight frogs separate from those taken after midnight. Also, remember that individual hunters must keep their frogs separate and identifiable from those of other froggers.
The Wildlife Code of Missouri permits taking frogs on either a hunting or a fishing permit. With a hunting permit, you can take frogs with a pellet gun, longbow, crossbow, hand net or with bare hands. With a fishing permit, froggers may use hands or a hand net, a gig, a longbow or hook and line. Frog hunting is legal - and most effective - at night with an artificial light.
The bullfrog is North America's biggest frog, measuring up to 8 inches all scrunched up and ready to jump. A good-sized bullfrog can weigh well over a pound, much of which is legs. Green frogs are more modest-sized, topping out at about 4 inches long when sitting. Though not as large, their legs taste just like those of bullfrogs.