BULLFROGS START CALLING as soon as the poison ivy is about 4 inches tall and the carpenter bees are buzzing across the rafters of the barn. All of that indicators the actual begin to summer time, and it occurs in early Might round right here. However the authorized frog-hunting season doesn’t open till later within the month. I feel that’s for the most effective as a result of it forces nation youngsters to have to sit down and hearken to the barruummphs for a pair weeks earlier than getting after them. Delayed gratification is an efficient lesson to study.
That frogs stay within the mud, and looking for them takes place at night time and is greatest when it’s scorching, and the season opens simply as college is closing for the summer time, all appear virtually too excellent. Once I was 12 years outdated, my greatest pal, Dan, and I’d’ve camped on a sidewalk filled with hippies if it meant we’d get the primary jab at a great pond filled with frogs.
The most effective one we ever gigged was tiny, perhaps half an acre in dimension, and it was constructed for the only objective of storing canine shit. Dan’s aunt bred and bought Rottweilers, and while you’re within the 110-pound-dog enterprise, you’ve received to have a spot to place the poop. For Dan’s aunt, it was the little pond dug in a woodlot throughout the highway—and it was filled with frogs. Dan scouted it out one night time earlier than the season opened, within the waning days of the varsity yr. A great rule of thumb, while you go frog listening, is to imagine that for each one you may hear calling in a pond, there’s at the very least one other gigging-size frog sitting proper subsequent to it, holding quiet. Dan mentioned he heard at the very least a dozen and doubtless extra.
“You wait until you see the frogs in my aunt Tonya’s shit pond,” he mentioned. “You possibly can hear them hollering from the highway, and I walked in there the opposite night time with my flashlight for a glance. Man, they have been sitting shoulder to shoulder.”
On the night time of the opener, we stayed at his grandmother’s home, a mile down a gravel highway from the pond, and struck out simply after dusk. We had no cell telephones, no monitoring gadgets, nothing digital besides the D-cell batteries used to energy Dan’s Maglite. We have been two preteen boys entrusted to stroll into the woods after darkish, carrying spears, and are available house at any time when we have been completed killing frogs.
It was an extended, quiet stroll down the gravel highway at nighttime, however we might hear the male frogs beckoning us effectively earlier than we reached the woodlot. I carried an outdated frog gig, with two lacking tines, fixed to the top of a brush deal with. Dan was packing a spring-loaded contraption on the top of a collapsible aluminum pole that he referred to as a “snap gig.” We slipped by means of the woods, single file, after which Dan turned on his flashlight and the beam betrayed the glowing eyes of bullfrogs surrounding the shoreline. We began out strolling the financial institution, however we jumped 5 frogs for each one we killed.
Quickly we have been daring each other to wade into the water. Partly, we felt it offered a tactical benefit. Principally, we have been 12-year-old boys who’d discovered a shit pond filled with frogs, and there was by no means a lot doubt that we’d wind up wading in it. Earlier than lengthy, we have been each easing by means of water and muck as much as our chests—however the technique labored; we have been capable of shine Dan’s gentle on the frogs head-on and assault them from the water, like lurking gators.
Dan carried a giant survival knife, and we took turns with the gigs. One among us would jab a frog and dig into the mud with naked arms to understand it in regards to the waist. Then we’d current the frog to the opposite, who’d use the enormous knife to sever its legs on the pelvis, drop them right into a grocery sack, and shuck the entrance half of the frog off the gig. It was brutal work, however we gave the impression to be made for it.
We walked house at nighttime a pair hours later, tennis sneakers squishing, each of us soaked from the armpits down in canine crap and blood and frog slime. We had two grocery sacks full of massive frog legs too. I can’t bear in mind a extra excellent begin to the summer time.
I haven’t seen that little pond since, and for that matter, haven’t seen Dan in 20 years. However there are many different ponds round, together with the one throughout the highway from the place I stay now, which I’d be a lot happier to wade since, to my data, it hasn’t been used as a turd reservoir. There aren’t close to as many frogs in it, however on the nice and cozy evenings in early Might—precisely after I’m scripting this—you may hear a few them barruummphing from 1 / 4 mile away.
My 8-year-old son needs to sneak down there proper now together with his gig, and, let’s be sincere, so do I. However we’re going to carry off till the season is open and he’s out of college, as a result of kicking the summer time off good is one thing you need to have to attend for.