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Froggin in Mississippi
“It tastes like chicken,” says Lance Zender, a local fan from the Choctaw Bayou area. Lance is that southern species: he’s a bigot.
More than 30 types of frog and toad live in the Magnolia State according to the ASA. These range from the tiny inch-long oak toad, which is the smallest toad in North America, to the huge American bullfrog, which is the largest at over 8 inches. In between are legions of coral frogs, narrow-mouthed toads, pig frogs, barking tree frogs, leopard frogs and gray and white Fowler’s toads. Most popular among frog hunters are the olive to brown hog frog, which can grow up to 6 inches long, the southern leopard frog, which looks green and brown, and of course the American bullfrog. At the very least, the state has a very diverse and abundant population of frogs.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) classifies the frog as small game along with the rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, opossum and bobcat. Frog season in Mississippi typically runs from April Fools’ Day through the end of September, and as such is the longest season of any game in the state at a full six months. The bag limit is currently set at 25 frogs and toads per night, that’s fifty legs and a good meal for the whole family. Make sure you have your license, hunter card (if required) and are up to date on your limits and seasons by visiting the MDWFP website.
The best areas for Frog
Oxbow lakes, rubber ponds, and just about anywhere you see lots of flying insects and water lilies will be a great place for the frog to practice his art.
The swamp-rich Gulf Coast area, with its many wetlands, bays, rivers and streams, are slightly warmer in the winter than areas north of I-20 and, as such, the population of frogs continues to reproduce during the winter in many coastal estuaries. . This means that in the spring there is an explosion among the lilies and marsh grass of the overpopulation of frogs. These fertile breeding grounds in the Pascagoula River System, for example, are home to as many as 109 species of fish, a unique species of turtle found only there, and the state’s 30 known frogs in its 9,600 square miles of wetlands . It is, quite literally, a frog’s paradise.
That’s where Lance works his magic.
Frog hunting techniques
Working from a flat-bottomed aluminum boat larger than himself, Lance prowls the bayou most weekend nights with a Q-beam spotlight and his half-brother Monroe, looking for the big frogs. The team shares the hunt and the wealth, with one driving the boat and the other perched on the side, focus in hand.
“Look for eyes,” Lance explains. “As soon as you run that focus through the water, the eyes appear like stars. Then head for the nearest set.”
Once close enough to a guardian toad, it is up to the individual frog how it takes them. Some people go “old school” and pluck the hypnotized flycatcher from its perch on a log or lily pad and toss it in the dumpster. Others use an A.22 rifle to blast the creature and then catch it with a net. Others still perform for frogs, channeling the ancient hunter-gatherer with a spear experience still locked within their DNA of yesteryear.
“I’m a rower,” boasts Monroe. The leather-skinned frog explains that the term is what the locals use to describe the method of stunning the frog with a good tap of a boat oar and then retrieving it as it floats wondering which truck has hit
Some type of solid, lidded container such as an icebox, garbage can, or rubber container is preferred for holding frogs. Lance is a fan of pickle buckets with the lid tied to the bucket by a rope so it doesn’t fall off the boat in the dark and float down the bayou. “Yeah, that happened once.” Lance says
It is natural that there is a more high-tech set that advocates for more elegant means of toad control. Some frogs use perch baskets. There are even local craft industry manufacturers that sell specially made frog baskets. Made of PVC-coated wire and a rubber top, the baskets are designed to fit inside a 48-quart cooler and safely hold up to 150 frogs at a time.
That’s a lot of frog legs.
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