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Spirit of the Outdoors: The Art of “Frog Gigging”

So many people think that “Frog Gigging” is a new sport invented by the cast of Duck Dynasty. Not so, the American Indians were connoisseurs of tasty frog legs way before the English crossed the ocean and stepped on American soil. Actually, a dish of frog legs can be found in some of the best restaurants across America. I know where the best one is, but we will get to that later.

Back in the day, my uncles, cousins and I were avid frog giggers. We were serious about our sport and on a good night we would come home with a bounty fit for a king!

I am not sure if it’s the sheer thrill of the stalk of that bullfrog or the fact that you’re enjoying the outdoors filled with snakes and bugs while the rest of your family asleep in the air-conditioned house. But there’s something about frog gigging that gets those true redneck juices flowing in your body.

Imagine this, its 10 o’clock in the evening on a hot summer June night in western Oklahoma, probably 90 degrees. When the rest of the family was getting ready for bed, my cousins and I were loading up our old 12 foot aluminum boat in the back of my granddad’s 1956 Ford truck, along with the trusty old smelly cooler we used to put the frogs in. We would toss our gear in the boat; you know the essentials needed for a night of frog gigging, snake boots, gigging sticks, duct tape, flash lights, spot lights and plenty of Pepsi’s iced down. Oh and that roll of toilet paper for, well you know. We would then go tell my uncle that we were ready to go.

The boat was to make a water attack possible; the snake boots were essential in western Oklahoma where water moccasins breed like rats, and the gigging sticks were our main weapons of choice that we said were custom made. Most people called them homemade; not so, they were custom made by expert giggers at the ripe age of 12 years old. A gigging stick was a broom handle with an 8-penny nail in the end of it. A 16-penny nail was way too big to use in the broom handle. It would split the handle every time. Now that nail had to have the head ground off of it to work. We would spend countless hours grinding the heads off of those nails on the concrete driveway, thus we “Customized” them. Now the smelly cooler is where we put the bullfrogs we caught. It stayed smelly so we could find it in the dark, believe me, at 3 am on a moonless night on the creek bank you could find that cooler. The duct tape was to bind the legs of the frogs up so they wouldn’t bang the sides of the cooler all night long. You get 25 bullfrogs in that cooler and it would sound like a marching band in there. You have to be quiet while frog gigging, so my cousin Chris came up with the tape idea.

We would hit all of our favorite creeks and ponds looking for our prey. The hot dry summer months were notorious for dropping water levels in the lakes and ponds, exposing more bank area for us to walk on. Bullfrogs were always on the edge of the banks, close enough to jump in the water if they detected danger.

Bullfrogs, like many amphibians, spend most of their lives thriving in the middle of the night. During the summer months, bullfrogs could always be found around the creeks, river and ponds. Most of the larger frogs were found in private ponds that normally were not visited by humans. I gigged some very large frogs in those ponds, some larger than 15 inches in length.

I can still remember that faithful frog hunt in July of 1966 that changed how we went frog hunting forever. Our uncle Tommy came home from the Viet Nam war. He had been in the Marines and we all thought he was quite the tough guy. We talked Tommy into going frog gigging with us one night. We were all excited about our chance to show Tommy just how good we had become at frog gigging. We loaded up the old Ford truck and got all ready to go. Then Uncle Tommy walks out of the house with a couple boxes of .22 shells in one hand and his .22 automatic rifle in the other. We all could see that our world of frog gigging was about to change! That night we took home 48 bullfrogs. We would spotlight the frogs while Tommy would shoot them. More frogs in the cooler, we thought that we hit the big times. I look back on it today and realize it wasn’t the smartest thing to be shooting a rifle in the dark, but those frog legs sure did taste good.

To tell you the truth, the best frog legs I know of are in West Monroe, Louisiana at “Willie’s Duck Diner”. They only serve frog legs using Miss K’s personal recipe, and they are lip smackin’ good. For those of you that can’t make it down there, I’ll give you that recipe; the Ingredients are as follows, 12 large or 16 medium frog legs, 3 cups buttermilk, 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup beer (1/2 bottle or can), 3 or 4 dashes of hot sauce, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp spicy mustard, Salt and black pepper, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) butter, 6 tbsp olive oil, 3 green onions or scallions, thinly sliced, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 8 to 12 whole garlic cloves, peeled, Duck Commander Cajun Seasoning (mild or zesty) or other Cajun seasoning.

Heat the oven to 300ºF. In a large bowl, cover frog legs with buttermilk. Marinate 1 hour, then drain. Return frog legs to the bowl.

Mix together the eggs, beer, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, spicy mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture over frog legs. Make sure they are coated completely.

One at a time, take out legs and roll each leg in flour. In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter in 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Cook frog legs, turning once, until golden brown on both sides (2 to 3 minutes per side). Remove from skillet and drain lightly, then enjoy!