Aug 06, 2023

Outdoors with Luke: tips on gigging frogs; attracting deer

It’s time to get ready for the upcoming deer season. Jeff Rice sets up a new Snap Lock Hunting Blind. Marc Mitchell gives a tip that might just increase your odds of harvesting a bruiser buck and Luke talks about gigging bullfrogs.

Gigging bullfrogs is not as popular today as when I was growing up in Northeast Texas but there are still those of us that relish the idea of collecting some of the best eating from the wild from the shallows of a farm pond on a warm summer evening with a gig or… boat paddle!

If there was a frog gigging tournament series back in the 1960s, my dad Fred Clayton of Red River County, Texas would have been the Bill Dance of the day! I remember vividly standing behind him on a remote pond bank shining that big four-cell silver flashlight into the eyes of a hapless bull frog. Dad with gigging pole in hand, poised like a great blue heron, ever so slowly eased the gig within striking range of what would soon become the centerpiece of some of the best eating in freshwater.

So many folks today have never eaten fresh frog legs dusted with flour and deep fried in hot lard until they were a golden brown and fork tender. I’ve eaten frog legs at some very fine seafood restaurants but the frozen legs they prepare are no comparison to those freshly caught and cooked!

There are several methods of procuring your fresh frog legs from the wild but the most popular is gigging or spearing them with a gig mounted on a lightweight but strong pole. There are two basic type gigs used; the grab gig which cocks open and is spring-loaded and the prong gig comprised of three or four sharp points. My dad used the grab gig and this is the only method I knew about until I was well into my teens. The position of the gig when striking the frog is very important. The trick is to strike the frog in the back so that the sides of the gig clamp tightly together and holds the frog.

It’s possible to catch the frog by the head but not nearly as efficient as a good body catch. A bit of knowledge of frog anatomy is necessary regardless the type gig one uses. When shining frogs at night, which is by far the best time to go after them, only their eyes and top of head are visible above waterline but after a bit of practice, it’s easy to determine the critter’s body position underwater by the angle of the head. This sounds a bit technical I know but it really isn’t. A bit of practice and most beginner froggers quickly become proficient.

The prong gig is basically a spear with several very sharp prongs. Body position of the frog is still important when plunging the spear but not as important as with a grab gig. Most gigging is done very close to the bank or sometimes on the bank close to the water. The trick with a prong gig is to pin the frog to the ground before attempting to remove him from the gig.

When gigging in water much over a foot deep, the grab gig is obviously more efficient, the tension of the spring-loaded jaws usually grip the frog tightly and he seldom gets away. Keeping the light focused on the frog is key to getting within gigging range. I remember my dad instructing me to “keep that light on the frog, boy!”

On the occasion when I moved the light from the frog to the ground, I was quickly reminded of the task at hand.

There was very little deviation from the way I was trained to gig frogs. Ole dad had a system that worked and he stuck to it. When I grew up and moved away from home, I carried my love of gigging and eating frogs with me. When I moved to the suburbs as a young man with a growing family, I found the ponds close to town loaded with uneducated frogs. My new friends were often reluctant to go out with me for an evening gig but they usually got caught up in the excitement and once I fed them some of the fruits of our harvest, they became serious froggers.

I later learned there was more than one way to put frogs in the croaker sack. While in my early 20s, one of my neighbors was from Arkansas and he grew up catching and eating frogs, just like me but using a far different method. He used a boat paddle instead of a gig.

When he first told me about his system, I thought he was joking but after our first outing, I learned there was more than one way to put frogs in the skillet. We used a jon boat and after shining a frog, paddled quietly within a few feet, raised the boat paddle and came down, hard on Mr. Froggie. Just as my friend had said, the frog simply sprawled out the water surface and was promptly put in the bag.

I later learned that frogs have a weakness for a Texas-rigged worm slowly twitched in front of their nose. My longtime friend Bob Hood who enjoyed a long career writing about the outdoors, and I were fishing a 10-acre pond near the Trinity River in Texas many years ago. Bass fishing was great on Texas-rigged worms and Bob spotted a bullfrog setting within inches of the water.

“Want some frog legs to go with our fish dinner, Luke?” Bob asked.

He tossed the worm up on the bank a few feet near the frog and as soon as the soft plastic was within pouncing distance, the jumbo-size frog made a leap, landing square on the worm and engulfed it. Bob was then solidly hooked to a critter that made catching a bass seem boring!

That frog jumped up on the bank then back into the water and made a couple of dives. My buddy soon had him in the boat and for the next couple hours, we both abandoned our quest for largemouth and proceeded to boat several big bullfrogs which were later the centerpiece for a frog leg/bass dinner fit for a couple of kings.

Outdoor tip: Veteran Lake Fork guide Marc Mitchell was my guest on the radio show this past week and he divulged one of his deer hunting tricks: using garlic to attract deer. Marc says regardless where he’s used this technique; deer always beat a path to his corn feeders.

“I just buy some powdered garlic at the Dollar Store and dust the corn as I put it into my feeders. I discovered garlic while guiding out in West Texas years ago. The super scent-sensitive deer out there dropped their defenses around the garlic smell and our bowhunting success instantly increased dramatically.”

Marc has taken some big bucks on his land situated on the upper end of Lake Fork using garlic as an attractant.

Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton by email. His website is

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