By Dan Zarlenga
ST. CHARLES — Florida orange growers could never imagine the cause for which the fruits of their labors were being sacrificed on a warm July evening in St. Charles County — to teach kids how to spear frogs.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) held a Discover Nature Youth Frog Gigging Clinic July 8 at the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area.
A total of 16 boys and girls participated, ranging in ages from 11-15. They gigged a total 74 frogs and every kid who took part managed to bag at least one.
“The clinic was a huge success,” proclaimed Lincoln County Conservation Agent Kevin Eulinger. “Everyone gigged frogs and had a great time doing it.” Eulinger organized the event with the assistance of fellow conservation agents from around MDC’s St. Louis region.
“Many of the St. Louis Region agents and I have a personal interest in frog gigging,” Eulinger said, “and I wanted to share our interest with young kids, who probably would not get the opportunity to learn how to frog gig anywhere else.”
The clinic was free and began with classroom instruction covering Missouri Wildlife Code regulations governing frog hunting, as well as how to positively identify the creatures.
Next, the kids were given an introduction on frog gigging gear and techniques.
In order to hone their skills, each kid had a chance to “gig” oranges outside for practice until they perfected their technique.
Leaving a grassy field smelling of freshly squeezed orange juice, they next watched a demonstration on how to properly skin out a frog and prepare it for cooking.
The kids were then treated to a light dinner courtesy of the Muddy Waters Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited, which included a sampling of fried frog legs, before they set out on the conservation area at sunset to gig their own.
The young frog giggers split into five groups—each guided by MDC conservation agents, staff and volunteers—and dispersed into the night, bound for several lakes on the Busch Area. They were accompanied by their parents and guardians, and were equipped with headlamps, gigs and bags supplied by the clinic.
For a few hours the beams of flashlights and headlamps pierced the darkness of the wildlife area to the careful sloshing sounds of first-time frog hunters as they waded along the lake banks.
Now and again, the waters were broken by plunging gigs that were often lifted up with a bullfrog on their tips.
A number of the young frog hunters were able to get their limit of eight frogs. The guides helped all the kids clean the frogs at the end of the event and they got to take home their harvested frogs.
“I hope this experience helped the kids discover what a really cool part of nature frog gigging is, and will stimulate them to go on their own in the future,” said Eulinger.
Sponsors of the clinic included the Cuivre River Wildlife Management Association, Whitetails Unlimited, the American Rod and Gun Club, and Bass Pro Shops.
Frogging season opened officially in Missouri on June 30, and runs until Oct. 31. Both bullfrogs and green frogs are legal game. The daily limit is eight frogs, with a total possession limit of 16. They may be taken with either a valid hunting or fishing permit by a variety of methods.