Missouri frogging season underway

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bullfrogs and green frogs fair game for frying pan

Ponds, creeks and frying pans will be hopping for the next few months, as frogging season in the state officially began on Thursday.

According to a press release from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the season began June 30 and continues through Oct. 31.

To hunt frogs, state law requires residents must have a fishing or small-game permit, unless exempt. Children under the age of 16 and Missouri residents 65 years of age or older are not required to have a permit. Those with a fishing permit may take frogs by hand, hand net, atlatl, gig, bow, trotline, throw line, limb line, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing or pole and line. With a small game hunting permit, frogs can be harvested using a .22-caliber or smaller rimfire rifle or pistol, pellet gun, atlatl, bow, crossbow, or by hand or hand net. The use of an artificial light, such as headlights or flashlights, is permitted when frogging.

"The MDC has an app now, called MoHunt, that you can buy online from your smart phone," said Dan Vanderhoef, Missouri conservation agent. Since you are required to have your permit on you, and most people have their phones with them, that's one way to get your permits. Or, you can get them at Walmart in the sporting goods area. If you buy a paper copy from the store, be sure to put it in a Ziplock bag."

Missouri has two frog species that are legal game, the bullfrog and green frog. Bullfrogs are larger and more sought-after.

"Bullfrogs and green frogs are the two types you can hunt. The majority of people eat just the legs, which is very popular, and bullfrogs have more meat. They can get pretty big, when they're all stretched out. Some are probably a foot long. I've seen them jump a long ways," Vanderhoef said, who added that frog legs are good to eat, and have their own unique taste.

"It's kind of like chicken but different," he said. "And wild-caught frog tastes a lot better, and different, than those you would eat at a restaurant, just like commercially-raised fish do not have the same taste as a wild-caught ones."

Sometime during the season, Vanderhoef plans to get outdoors with his family and do some frog-catching himself.

"It's a lot of fun, if you've never done it," he said. "Most do it after dark when the frogs are easiest to catch. A lot will use headlights and frog gigs to catch them, or, you can use a fishing pole with a hook on it. You can do that more during the day, with some bright-colored red twine tied to the hook. You put it in front of the frog to attract them and sometimes you can hook them under the chin and get them that way."

Frogs are easiest to find and catch around ponds, Vanderhoef said.

"You can get permission from landowners to catch frogs in ponds," he said. "The frogs are around lakes or streams, but easier to get around ponds. There are lots of different types, but bullfrogs make a deep sound and that's how you know where they are."

The MDC puts hunting seasons into place to provide protection for wildlife and allow them time to grow, but also to help keep populations in check.

"Pretty much all of our hunting or fishing times or seasons are set that way, so they don't disturb reproductive time and protects the young ones and allows them to grow," he said. "The frogs lay their eggs in the spring and of course they turn into tadpoles then frogs, so there will be a lot of small frogs already hatched, but there are big ones out there, too."

For bait, Vanderhoef suggested insects, or something bright to attract the frogs.

"Frogs are mostly insect eaters, but they'll eat a minnow, too," he said. "But if you're using a hook, you just want something to attract them, like a piece of bright red yarn or cloth to get their attention. Sometimes, they will see that and try to grab it."

Frog legs are usually fried in batter.

"Most people will fry them like fish, in a batter," Vanderhoef said.

"Like anything else, if you take them home and clean them, and if you're not eating them right away, freeze them, but most people plan a day or two ahead and in a couple days they'll have frog legs for dinner."

But be prepared for a little "jumping."

"The legs jump when cooking them," Vanderhoef said, "especially if they're fairly fresh, they will twitch around a little bit."

According to MDC guidelines, the daily catch limit is eight frogs of both species combined, and the possession limit is 16 frogs of both species combined. Only the daily limit may be possessed on the waters or banks thereof, where limits apply. Daily limits end at midnight so froggers who catch their daily limits before midnight then want to return for more frogging after midnight must remove their daily limit of previously caught frogs from the waters or banks before returning for more.

For more information about frog hunting, including how-to's and recipes, people may visit huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/frog.

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