The brook that ran under the trestle near our grandparents in Raymondville was a great place for kids to roam and explore. It ran over rock ledges with shallow pools as it flowed to the Racquette River below the Raymondville dam. The pools had lots of minnows, water insects, salamanders, and frogs. If you followed the brook upstream it eventually flowed lazily through relatively flat fields and pastures. It was several feet deep and forty to fifty feet wide along the irregular muddy shorelines. There were abundant lily pads, turtles, wild waterfowl, and creek critters. In some areas you could catch fish, but not many suitable in size to eat. This creek with the slow moving deep water, muddy bottom, and lots of insects was bullfrog heaven.
Dad’s family members had hunted bullfrogs along this creek for years. It was too far from the house to take the younger children. I accompanied Dad or one of my uncles on many frog hunting trips and carried my own rifle. The banks of the brook were grown up with weeds and small shrubs which offered the frogs a certain sense of security. Any person or animal entering the water would make a considerable amount of noise getting through the weeds and low shrubs at the waters edge. The same growth along the shore also allowed us to keep out of site while peering over the top for frogs.
Bullfrogs love to float on the water with only their eyes and top of their heads exposed while soaking up the warmth of the sun. They often sleep or nap in this position also. Once you know what to look for it is very easy to sneak along the shore and spot them. The top of the head with the bulging eyes is very distinctive at a distance. When you get close enough it’s just a matter of shooting them in the head with your twenty two rifle. If you miss you don’t get a second shot, but you see your bullet hit the water. A missed frog will immediately dive to the bottom and burrow into the mud out of sight. The frog you hit will float on the water.
As the youngster hunting with Dad or my uncles it was my job to retrieve the frogs from the water. My shoes were normally an old pair of sneakers. The water would seldom be over waist high and usually just a couple feet deep. We would never shoot anything but full grown mature frogs. We never shot any frogs if we weren’t going to eat the legs. We would return home, remove and clean the frog legs, and cook them for supper that evening. They were very good and similar to eating small chicken wings.
We would hunt for many hours, clean frogs for a long time when we got home…………..then eat all the legs in a twenty minute meal.