On warm summer nights, Paul and cousin Mark would go down to the Canal by Hansen’s and Abe’s to go frog gigging. I only remember going frog gigging once–with Dad, Paul and Brother Danner down at Kings View Hospital Farm by the Kings River. There were lagoons there and an island in the river. Brother Danner had red hair and freckles that you could not see in the dark. He loved to go frogging. He built his own little boat out of plywood and boxes, and we went out on the river in the darkness. We each had a headlight strapped to our foreheads. With that light, you search the banks of the ditch or river for the big daddy bull frogs. We’d be very still and listen for the deep bass croaking. No talking. When we’d hear one croaking, the trick was to spot it in your headlight. Then you kept your light fixed on the big daddy, which blinded it. A blinded frog won’t jump or move. The gigs were barbed devil-like forks with four tines, on a very long pole. I never did the gigging. The night I went along, we took burlap sacks and my job was to hold the sack. In a couple of hours we gigged 40-50 frogs that were 12-18″ long. It was a grand adventure.
But the job was only half done. The sacks were full of wounded, jumping frogs that needed to be dealt with. We took them home, and in the late night, set up our butcher shop in the packing shed with bright lights and June Bugs buzzing overhead. Dad and Brother Danner worked fast to clean the frogs. We all helped. First the upper bodies were cut off, then the feet, then the paper-thin skin was pulled down over the hind legs, turning them inside out. The best meat is on those back legs. There’s a little meat on the back that we also saved. The meat is a translucent white, with thin black veins.
Once it was all cleaned, we divided our bounty with Brother Danner, and filled the fridge and freezer with the delicacy of frog meat. There’s nothing quite like tender, succulent frog legs fried in a little butter, with a little salt and pepper. What a treat!
Below is a picture of my Dad with the frog gigs we used.