The Missouri Department of Conservation sent out a press release last week announcing that frogging season officially starts on June 30. Whether hunting frogs -- bullfrogs and green frogs only, please -- for sport or for harvesting their tasty legs, there are rules that simply must be followed.
For one thing, the Missouri Department of Conservation permits only the hunting of frogs by hand net, gig, trotline, throw line, limb line, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing or pole and line with a fishing permit. With the proper hunting permits, frogs may also be shot with 22-caliber firearms, pellet guns, longbows or crossbows. What? You've never used a bow to capture a frog? Here's how to do it. But, for God's sake, kill the frog; don't injure it.
The MDC warns hunters:
"Once a frog is speared, it must be harvested. You should not release an injured frog, as the animal is not likely to recover. However, if a frog is not fatally injured by methods such as grabbing or pole and line ... it may be released."
The reason that bullfrogs and green frogs are the only acceptable frogs for hunting in Missouri, explains Jim Low of the Missouri Department of Conversation, is that they're the two biggest frogs in North America. The frogs on the "Do Not Hunt" list -- and there are dozens of them, according to Low -- include leopard frogs, gray tree frogs and the tiny spring peeper. "Most of these frogs are too small to hunt," Low says.
A couple of other frogging rules:
- Permits are required of all frog hunters unless they are children under the age of 16 or seniors over the age of 65.
- The daily limit is an eight-frog total of both species with a possession limit of 16. If you catch eight frogs before midnight, you can start frogging again at 12:01 a.m.and catch another day's limit.
The Missouri Department of Conservation's press release included a recipe for
battered, deep-fried frog legs, which is the most popular way in the United States to eat the delicacy, even though most frog legs served in the United States are imported from Indonesia.
I won't go frog hunting for any reason, but I do like frog legs -- fried or sauteed -- and I do think the meatier legs taste like chicken. But Jim Low doesn't think chicken is a very good comparison: "Maybe a fishier
chicken," he concedes. "I think frog legs have the taste of very good fish. I prefer them either blackened, Cajun-style or sauteed in a pan with freshly minced garlic."
If you prefer eating frog legs to actually going out and hunting them, there are local restaurants that do a very nice job with the dish, including chef Mano Rafael at Le Fou Frog.
"They're not always on the menu," says his wife, Barbara, the restaurant's co-owner, "but we offer them as a special every so often. Mano sautes the legs in a Provencal sauce. And, no, we do not use local frog legs. Mano likes the smaller frog legs, not the big jumbo ones."
Frog-hunting season ends, Jim Low says, on October 31.
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