Frog Gigging- An Introduction to a Purely Backwoods Pastime

Frog Hunting

Yes ... this is cunning and elusive prey.
Yes ... this is cunning and elusive prey.

Intro

Frog gigging is an experience which I largely took for granted until I moved back to civilization after a long hiatus in backwoods Florida. Though I’ve heard the term used in a derogatory or negative fashion, most frog gigging aficionados I’ve known have borne the moniker of redneck with pride. And indeed, after living for more than ten years amongst them, I was happy to be considered an honorary redneck.

That being said, frog gigging is a hallmark of the redneck way of life: functional in getting one’s dinner, pleasantly barbaric, and including lots of engine noise and acceleration.

If you’re considering trying it out for yourself, allow me to educate on a few of the finer points and quirks of this sport.

 

A Frog Gig

Mount on pole, stick in frog while moving at high speed, repeat.
Mount on pole, stick in frog while moving at high speed, repeat.

Materials

 

            To start, you will need a few things. First off, it’s probably best to go with a friend or commission a guide who owns his own airboat. Obviously this presents a pretty large investment if you’re going to go out and buy your own airboat. But, boys and toys…

            Next you will need a gig. Such pronged heads can easily be mounted on a length of PVC or bamboo. The length is entirely up to you. I find about ten feet is appropriate, and I’ll tell you why later.

            A third man and a portable beam lamp is a must. The lamp should be as powerful as you can afford.

            Finally, the most important thing you can take with you on a frog gigging expedition is beer. Two cases should do it. If you luck out you might not even have to pay a guide at all.

The Experience

Imagine yourself out on the water of a river or lake in the middle of the night. There’s not a light around and you can’t see the shore, and the moonlight is broken up by the placid, rippling water. You can hear chirps and croaks surrounding you on all sides, and your friend picks out frogs with his beam lamp. They sit still on the water’s surface, their bulging eyes reflected in the lamplight.

What seems natural in this calm, serene scene? Blasting across the water at top speed while trying to spear the little croaking buggers, of course.

That is essentially what frog gigging is, a modern-day form of jousting against an opponent smaller than your hand. Once you spear a frog, you scrape its wriggling, impaled body into a bucket and start aiming for the next one. It may seem that the only challenge in all this is getting your aim right as you pass, but this is actually the least of your worries.

You know the guy who’s driving the boat, the one on his third beer of the hour in the seat behind you on the tiny little skiff with its big-ass engine and propeller? You realize that his seat is only about a foot higher than yours? You realize you can’t see jack as your blasting across the water at sixty miles an hour?

You realize the driver can’t see any more than you can … right?

Try not to let yourself think of what happens if a tree-trunk looms up out of the water suddenly or the shoreline rises up in what’s really more of a cliff than a bank.

And then there’s the issue of the other inhabitants of many southerly waterways. Sure there are snakes, insects, fish of all kind, but I’m thinking of something decidedly more … scaly.

Alligators tend to float near the top of the water at night as well. Their eyes reflect back the light from your lamp as well. See where I’m going with this?

Someone new to frog gigging may make the grievous error of mistaking an alligator for a frog. That’s exactly why your frog gigging pole should be as long as you can comfortably use, because if you spear a gator while shooting across the water faster than the interstate speed limit you want the gator to be as far from your body as possible.

There’s a tremendous jerk, aside from the guy driving the boat, which can jar the pole from your hands. Remember, it’s not that expensive of a tool, so let it go. Don’t feel sorry for the gator; they’re not the poor, misunderstood, endangered species that Animal Planet would lead you to believe. They have an incredible ability to ignore pain and heal from most wounds that don’t kill them outright. So imagine your predicament if you’ve just ticked off such a creature heavier and longer than the airboat. I’ve seen them actively attack and try to bite the side of the airboat. Though it’s very rare, there’s a chance they can overturn the airboat, leaving you in the middle of a lake or river with blood in the water from your frogs and speared gator.

There’s a certain feeling of the bottom of your stomach dropping out. In these situations, it may seem barbaric, but just go ahead and run the boat over the gator. It will only stun him, they’re pretty hard-headed.

You know, now that I look this over, is it any wonder that a lot of people from the rural south have a reputation for being a little crazy? This seems downright suicidal on paper, but it’s all good fun once you get out there. Just worry about the problem when it happens and not before.

 

Hmmm ... They were hopping just a minute ago.
Hmmm ... They were hopping just a minute ago.

The Mighty Hunter Returns

 

            Assuming you’ve survive your little outing, you come tromping home with a dirty gig, bucket full of amphibian corpses, and a triumphant smile.

            Throw your heard back and proclaim to the sky, “I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end! I am become death incarnate to all froggy kind! Bow down and ribit in mortal fear of my wrath!”

            All hail the might hunter indeed.

            Now what?

            Time to eat.

            The majority of the frog is, unfortunately, inedible, leaving just the legs. It’s important to give them a good washing first to get rid of any unsanitary detritus clinging to their skins. The last thing you want is to spend the rest of the night bowed over the porcelain lord shouting at Huey. “Huey! Huuuuuueeey!”

            A few quick snips with a pair or scissors or clean garden shears will cut the legs free. Try to get in between the femur and pelvis, else the femur will splinter. The bodies should be discarded … I wouldn’t want to be the poor homeless guy who opens the lid on that trash can. Imagine the look on his face at the sight of a dozen rotting frog bodies. I’ll bet he’ll keep clear of your place for quite a while; probably thinking an axe murderer lives there.

            In any case, the skin comes away easily. Just use a pair of pliers to take hold of it and pull it from the hip down, like removing a sock or glove.

            The meat can be pan-seared, but it’s really best breaded in cornmeal and fried. Try peanut oil for an added kick of flavor.

            The meat tastes like chicken breast (or does chicken just taste like everything else?) but is much juicier. Picking the last morsels from the toes can be a difficult task, and definitely something a child should be witness to just once in his life. Trauma, I find, is like chicken pox: best to get it over with early.

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Comments 34 comments

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Oooh! Pick me! Pick me! I wanna go!


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 7 years ago

This sounds like it makes a terrible mess of the frogs.

"A froggie would a-whooing go, hm-hmm, hm-hmm. Yes, a froggie would a-whooing go, he dressed himself from head to toe, hm-hmmm...hm-hm-hmmm. ... The first one there was Jarn -" Splat! splat! "hm-hmmm, hm-hmm. Yes, the first one there was Jarn -" [Look out! - Splat!] "He ate the frog, Miss Mouse and the rat, hm-hmm, hm-hm-hmmm..."

And the moral of the story is: Don't go to dinner at Jarn's house if you have allergies to cornmeal, or peanut oil.

Hmm-hmmm!


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

Love frog legs! We use a .22 rifle instead of a gig and our approach to the prey is a little more surreptitious than yours, but the results are the same. Yep, rasin' hell is the name of the game here in south Georgia too! Good read!


Jarn profile image

Jarn 7 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Well, it's been years since I went, so I doubt any of the people we used to bribe with a few cases of beer to take us out on their airboats are still in business. Else it would be fun to head out again sometime.

The gig usually goes right through the frog and they die pretty quickly, so it's not really that gruesome. The problem is if you catch one by the leg instead. Then you gotta stick the little bugger to put him out of his misery. I can't for the life of me remember why, but the gigs are barbed typically. I guess it's to keep the frog from coming off the gig and getting away, but getting the darn thing off the gig at all can be a problem. Sometimes they end up getting torn open, and that's when you've got a mess on your hands.

I've heard that there's a variation of frog gigging in which you use a bow and arrow instead. Apparently the arrow's got a line attached, so once you shoot the frog you can pull it aboard your boat. It's supposed to work for fish as well. I don't know that it will ever happen, but that might be fun to try sometime.


Jarn profile image

Jarn 7 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Thanks very much Randy. How's the fishing in your part of the state? I've fished in the Carolinas, but never in Georgia. I heard there was a bit of a drought problem this past year or two.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

We have five ponds stocked with bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish so for me the fishing is always great. No drought here but just up the road it was pretty bad.


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Hunting fish with bow ans arrows was a pass time of my husbands, when he was growing up... usually went for the sucker fish, as there are no laws regarding how many of those one can reel in.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States

I myself have never fished with a bow, but Hubby sometimes enjoys it. He usually goes for big carp...they're plentiful, and while they're not much good for the table (something about the quality of the water, I think), they make a fun passtime.


Sky's End profile image

Sky's End 7 years ago from Florida

Did you know that frogs scream like the cry of a small child when they get hurt?


Jarn profile image

Jarn 7 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Sky's End. Thanks for commenting. I get the impression you're a disturbed little minx, aren't you? :)


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 7 years ago

Jarn, how dare you talk to a girl that way? A "disturbed little *minx*"? Uhn!


Jarn profile image

Jarn 7 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Trust me, if you met her then you would be hard pressed to come up with a more positive thing to say about her.:)


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 7 years ago

Oh. Then maybe we should be friends. If she comes back and sees these comments, maybe we can strike up a conversation. That could be fun...or at least, interesting. I've checked her profile page and writing, but I obviously don't know her like you seem to.


Jery profile image

Jery 7 years ago from Kennewick WA USA

I use to get frogs by using a canoe and have a guy in the back doing the paddling and a guy in the front leaning over and just hold a light on the frog (it's night of course)and just grab them with your bare hands. Works great and I hardly ever missed! I filled a gunny sack half full on more than one occasion. Bow fishing for carp is pretty popular out here in Washington. I've never done it but it looks like fun and even tho I'm not big on killing things for not good reason...there are just tooo many carp around here.

Frogs scream like a small child when hurt...pleasssse. Give me a break. Rabbits and a few other critters on the other hand will cry out when hurt (blow a predator call) and sound a lot like a little human baby crying.

Anyway you brought back memories of eating frog legs until I couldn't hold any more!


Dgenr8 profile image

Dgenr8 6 years ago

Sounds delicious, how many ways can frog be prepared?


Jarn profile image

Jarn 6 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

They can be prepared lots of different ways. The meat is similar to chicken breast but a little oilier, so it's tough to get it wrong; they don't dry out. I've heard some people use the meat in a gumbo to replace sausage, others run it on bamboo skewers like teriyaki beef... never tried to jerk frog meat though, that could be an interesting one. Double frying tends to be a Florida tradition, but I can't really think of any cooking method that would be a bad idea, except maybe boiling them.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

I have been considering going into the market for making frog-crutches, frog-wheelchairs etc., since I thought we only ate the legs.!!

COR! You learn something new everyday....


duffsmom profile image

duffsmom 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

Very interesting. The only thing I ever killed hunting-wise was a frog with a bow and arrow, and after killing it, it became very clear to me that i am a first class wimp and should not be hunting anything. I'll leave that to my husband. This hub was very interesting and I am looking forward to reading your other Hubs.


Billrrrr profile image

Billrrrr 5 years ago from Cape Cod

You craft your fiction and it lies there unread and lonely: but write a piece on impaling frogs from the side of a beer-fueled boat and it draws readers faster than the little frog corpses draw flies. It's okay Jarn, give 'em what they want.


Jarn profile image

Jarn 5 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Guess I'm gonna be relegated to recounting all the stupid stuff I've done that could've gotten me killed in the name of fun. Oh well, gotta go with what you're good at, right? Thanks for reading.


Mandy the cable guy 5 years ago

Marry me! lol.


Jarn profile image

Jarn 5 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Mandy, what did you do to deserve that kind of punishment? :)


Susan Starts Now profile image

Susan Starts Now 5 years ago from California

I used to go frog gigging as a kid in the backwoods. . . of California. My dad's friend, transplanted from somewhere in the south used to take us. Sure was fun. Of course, it was funnier to see how long it took dad's buddy to tumble out of the boat after one too many. Enjoyed your hub.


Shaddie profile image

Shaddie 4 years ago from Washington state

Never gone frog gigging and I've never eaten bullfrog, but I have considered it many a time. Up here they are an invasive species, and after I catch them with a fishing hook (they'll bite anything that moves) I typically just freeze them for lack of better ideas. I may just have to try this recipe sometime this summer though ;) Voted up!


Jarn profile image

Jarn 4 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Frogcicles huh? Not sure how that would taste on a warm day. :) Thanks for reading.


BigDaddy 4 years ago

Frogs do sound like babies cryin when there gigged and they all don't die right away it's a creepy sound but eatin em makes up for it


ashley 4 years ago

Hey i like you


Jarn profile image

Jarn 4 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

I like you too.


Q porter 4 years ago

I am an experienced gigger but I like to see what othe giggers are saying and I really like this post, especially the two cases of beer everyone be safe tho and happy gigging


Missouri 4 years ago

Me and my bud go out every night once the season opens here in MO but we just walk along the banks of a pOnd by a junkyard the MO river is to dangerous to gig at night


Steve Pleasant 4 years ago

I usually walk along the bank real slow and quiet at about 4am and gig 'em then. It's very...peaceful.

In regards to wounded frogs sounding like babies crying, that's completely false. The only time I have ever heard a hurt frog make a sound it was just slow croaks. Rabbits, on the other hand, make me shiver every time.


Jarn profile image

Jarn 4 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

I think you'll have to reconsider, Steve. Frogs being attacked by snakes will cry like babies. I've heard it plenty of times.


Russ 4 years ago

Great post man. I just got back from my first shot at it with my buddies. We were just creeping along the bank doing it. Whiffed a bunch of em, but brought some home too.


Riley 4 years ago

Me and some of my buddies went out and gigged and caught by hand about 70 of them all in one night.

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