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Get a jump on 'em! Frog-giggin' is a pastime not soon forgotten in our amphibian-laden state.

The state of Mississippi is covered with water. Powerful rivers flow through the landscape like veins, pumping sweet [H.sub.2]0 from the Rockies and all parts in between to the Gulf. Lakes, sloughs, creeks, swamps, marshes, and farm ponds dot the countryside, and numerous species of plants and animals flourish due to this fortunate and unique characteristic. After the sun sinks low and darkness falls on the Magnolia State, a chorus erupts. From the hyacinth and cattails of Mississippi's 9,800 square miles of wetlands, frogs own the night, and there are few places outside of the cities that their songs can't be heard.

More than 30 different species of frogs call our state home, ranging from the common American Toad to the endangered Mississippi Gopher Frog (Rana capito sevosa), with a population of only around 100 adults. But the frogs that get the most hype and attention are neither of these. Why? Because these aren't the ones that you're looking for when you load up the headlamps, Q-beams, canoe, kayak, or john boat, a couple of buddies, and--of course--frog gigs. Across the world from Slovenia to China, frogs have been getting the wrong end of the stick (the pointy end) for centuries, and right here in our own backyard we have some of the best frogging around.

Considered small game in the Mississippi state regulations, a 25-per-person, per night limit has been instated on the frogger's bounty. The season runs from April 1 to the end of September, with experienced frog hunters commonly saying the early summer is the best time. A strong flashlight or Q-beam is used to scan the water until frogs are located by their shining eyes. To add a little more excitement to the game (just in case being out in a swamp at night in a small boat doesn't get your heart beating), snake and alligator eyes also shine brightly when hit with light, so you have to be on your toes. Once located, the most common method to capture your limit of frogs is to harpoon them with a gig. Other tools commonly used are nets, .22-caliber rifles, and the old standby for a last-minute frogging expedition--the bare hand. Frogs are faster than you might think, and to capture 25 frogs is an exhausting endeavor, sometimes taking all night. The American Bullfrog, Pig Frog, and Southern Leopard Frog are the most sought after, due to their size, abundance, and--you guessed it--tastiness!

While some may turn their noses up at the thought of eating amphibians, frogs have been considered a delicacy around the world for centuries. In France, frogs have been harvested to near extinction. Now the 4,000 tonnes of frog legs they consume each year are imported from other countries, and France doesn't come close to the amount of frogs that are eaten in Asia. It seems the entire world is crazy for frogs, and we are surrounded by the croakers from Walnut to Gulfport.

I've never heard anyone say they had a bad time gigging frogs. Getting out on a boat in the dark is not something you do every day, and certainly throwing spears at frogs falls under the same category. Any time you have a chance to get outside and spend some time with friends, it's a pretty good idea to take advantage of it, and frog gigging is just another way for Mississippians to do just that. Put a new twist on getting together with your buddies or introduce your kids to an experience they will not soon forget. If you have any luck, you can enjoy a frog-leg feast, if you don't, you'll have a great story and plenty of memories. Make sure to be very careful, as most of us are not accustomed to boating at night in a swamp or gigging fast-moving amphibians. Have fun, be safe, and good luck out there!
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Title Annotation:ms adventures
Author:Shemper, Jacob R.
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Geographic Code:1U6MS
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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