Fried frog legs are a delicacy in Southern Louisiana. Bullfrogs are fun to catch, have legs close to the size of chickens, and make dern good eatin’. The best time to catch them is after the sun goes down. A while back, I went frog hunting with my 18-year old distant cousin and his two friends. Equipped with a four wheeler, a large spot light, mosquito repellent and my camera, we left for the crawfish ponds after the sky turned black. The four of us sat on the four wheeler as it moved slowly through the water. Sounds of the bullfrogs were loud and sporadic as our spotlight scanned the landscape. We watched carefully for eye reflections and slight movements in the water or grass.
The technique goes something like this: When bright light hits a frog, it freezes. Slowly, you come up behind it and use your hand to grab its back bone, pressing the plump frog-body into the mud. Bullfrogs have strong legs so if you want to keep it, it’s best to hold on tight. Once you have a good grip, lift it out of the mud, toss it in the bag and proceed. It depends on what kind of crowd you’re feeding, but you might need to collect quite a few frogs to fill large appetites.
At one point in the evening, I got off the four-wheeler and tried to catch one with the verbal guidance of my fellow frog-catchers. We spotted the fat, burping frog that was to be mine. Sinking my legs into the muddy water, I followed the light beam…creeping slowly towards the frog. My hand moved closer and closer to its back. With each breathe, I watched its body inflate. and deflate. I stopped mid-motion. In this moment, it felt similar to the feeling I’ve had when standing next to an ice cold river waiting to jump in. My desire to jump in was just as strong as my desire to say put. I was frozen in the middle, turmoiled in decision-land. In those crucial seconds, my hand simply would not move. I had this irrational fear that the frog would turn around and bite me or its slippery skin would somehow feel completely unbearable. I’m adventurous, I love being outdoors, but my city-girl lifestyle started to gain immediate transparency. Snapping out of it, I decided to retreat from the frog. Following this decision, I looked up to see 5-6 foot snake slither into the same body of water that I stood…about 3 feet too close to me. Needless to say I turned around as fast as I could and hopped back on the four-wheeler. From then on, I stuck to my role as photographer. Below you’ll find a photographic journey of our evening, and into the next day of food preparation:
(fyi: contains graphic images)