Adventurous couples in search of a memorable date night or single ladies on the prowl for a prince might want to try hunting bullfrogs at Marion County Park and Lake.
Taking a moment to stop and listen, one will likely hear the strident basso profundo mating call of indigenous male bullfrogs mixed with a nightly chorus echoing across the glassy water. It creates an ambient, if not regal, song to hunt by.
Marion resident Bart Peace has made many memories with his girlfriend, Dani Green, and her son, Jameson Looper, hunting bullfrogs at the county lake and on small private ponds where they have landowners’ permission.
“We go out at night when there is a full moon so we can see their eyes shining,” Peace said. “We wade in the water up to our waist sometimes and use a gig and a mesh bag to catch them.”
When they spy a bullfrog’s eyes glinting in the moonlight, one of them approaches very carefully and slowly before grabbing the frog barehanded.
“They get quiet when we’re in the water,” Peace said. “Some get away. We just keep the ones that are big enough to eat and don’t mess with the smaller ones.
Peace sporadically takes out-of-county friends to the lake to hunt during the season, which starts Friday and extends to Oct. 31.
When Peace and crew get home from a bullfrog hunt, they soak their catch in lemon juice overnight before cooking them.
“Sometimes they get out and hop around the shop before we can clean them,” Peace said. “Usually we are adding frogs to a fish fry. We bread them just like we do fish.”
Frying frog legs is a little less acrobatic than what urban legend portrays.
“The legs move a little when you fry them,” Peace said, “but they don’t jump that much.”
Lake superintendent Steve Hudson said people regularly hunt bullfrogs at the lake.
“There are a lot of bullfrogs along the tall grass on the shore near the cement slab at the north end of the lake,” Hudson said. “Frogs also like the flat muddy environment at the south end near the spillway.”
He has seen people catch bullfrogs using bamboo jig poles to dab bait in front of a frog.
“The frog eats it, then they just grab it with their hands,” he said. “I’ve caught some on my fly rod before, too.”
Some also use a gigging pole, which looks like a small trident or pitchfork.
“You hear them croaking and then you stab them,” he said. “Some people shine a flashlight on frogs, and it’s easy to get them because the light blinds them.”
There is no restriction on using flashlights to beam bullfrogs as there are on hunting some other animals, Hudson said.
In most cases, a valid fishing license is required to take, catch or kill bullfrogs, according to Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism. Daily limit is eight. Possession limit is 24 after the third day of the season.
Bullfrogs can be taken legally anytime day or night by dip net, gig, hook and line, and hand. Bows and crossbows may be used, but a line must attach to the arrow, and the arrow must have a barbed head.
“The worst thing that can happen is gigging your own foot,” Hudson said.