Recently I found out about an entirely new way to hunt with my bow in the offseason — and also get in some good practice in advance of deer season: Frogging with archery equipment during the day.
I was previously told that frogging with a bow was not allowed, but apparently I was misinformed. The warden that patrols some of the public lands I hunt told me that bows and arrows with practice tips or bow-fishing setups are legal for frogging — but crossbows are not.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries hunting pamphlet doesn’t even list using a frog net as a legal frogging method, and every warden I’ve asked said nets are legal. It’s only firearms that are listed as prohibited for catching frogs.
But remember, your best bet when you want to do something that isn’t clearly specified is to make a call to your LDWF regional office.
Now maybe there’s a reason why bows aren’t even listed — because catching frogs in the daytime with a bow without a boat is one of the toughest activities I’ve tried. But it’s also one of the most funthings I’ve ever done, too.
As with most of my adventures, I’m always interested in more challenging ways of hunting and fishing. Sure, catching frogs at night in a boat is effective, but it’s so easy that I lose interest after a trip or two each year. It’s the hunt, not the catch that interests me most.
On my first day with the bow and throwing a spear, I shot my first frog hopping off at 15 yards. Then, I proceeded to walk through a pond scaring two frogs into the picker bushes. Before long I had the two banked frogs on the end of my spear.
I finished the first evening with 13 frogs and got 38 the next day from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. It didn’t seem to matter what time of the day I went.
Arrowed frogs rarely die immediately, even with head shots, but they stay really well on the arrows for at least a few seconds. After the frog is shot, I usually took off sprinting and dove on the arrow before it got away.
The next week I couldn’t wait to go back. I tried all new spots and scouted for places to take my stepdad frogging at night since he came to fix my camp’s broken air conditioner and enjoys nighttime frogging.
I ended that weekendwith 37 daylight frogs in two days. I was trying new bow and arrow set-ups, so I had many misses as I learned which weapon combo worked best. Plus, my attempts to better film shots by setting up a camcorder scared off a few frogs.
Unfortunately, a twig snapped back into me and caused bad blurry vision in my shooting eye for 24 hours. Everything looked fogged up, but I didn’t give up and got a few more through the haze. Luckily, it was just a mild corneal abrasion.
All 89 frogs I’ve gotten in daylight in two weekends were filmed along with all the mud-diving in this video.
At night with my stepdad, I grabbed 38 giant frogs the first night in 90 minutes after dragging our flat boat through the woods — and I let many medium-sized legal frogs go.
However, the next day when driving on the way back from scouting, my front right caliper on my brakes blew up, causing brake fluid to pour out and leaving me speeding along with a useless brake pedal. It took hours to cover the 50-mile return trip to my camp going slow, downshifting and using the parking brake to get back.
That night — without my 4x4 truck to get us to the deep spots — we tried boat launches near common areas. And just as I expected, we saw hundreds of frogs — but nearly all of them were small.
The trick to finding big frogs is going where others don’t, so we drove to a small pond and I swam and dove on several frogs and picked up a few big ones that night.
That’s why most of the frogs I shot with the bow were huge — few people are willing to walk in the heat to get to the them. Some places were several miles from my truck, but the final tally for the weekend was 102.
But the worst part of that weekend didn’t hit me until the next morning back home. After several nights of little sleep, I woke from a deep rest Monday morning with terrible pain and near deafness in my left ear.
Every time I closed my mouth it sounded like a snare drum. I canceled work and rushed to the ear doctor, where they discovered some bug or spider had crawled in and bit my ear drum.
Luckily, after getting the ear drum blister popped and drained, the pain subsided and my hearing slowly came back after several days.
I guess the perils of bow-frogging can be many and unexpected. Sure, you can protect your ears if you wear ear plugs, but I believe hearing that rattlesnake alert you with its tail before you step on it is a bit more important.
Know this: If snakes and gators bother you, don’t go daytime frogging. Many times in small ponds, the gators hide on the bottom, and that’s where I walk to go look for frogs, so I’ve stepped on several of them.
Also, baby gators aren’t really scared of humans walking near them, but they like to squeak — leaving you watching your back for the big momma gator that might come your way.
Once I find a good daytime frogging spot, I won’t go there at night since that will really thin out the frogs. But since there are many frogs that jump off before you can shootwhiledaytime frogging, the spot will remain good on the next day trip with plenty left to catch.
The main thing for daytime frogging is finding the correct type of water. With open deep water, the frogs rarely let you get closer than 15 yards, and lining up shots is tough. They jump quickly, but in thicker grassy waters or water surrounded by thick briar, you can walk 5 yards in the water facing the bank, and they’ll typically let you get within 5 to 10 yards if you sneak slowly.
The frog is depending on its natural camouflage to keep it hidden when you cut it off from an easy escape to deep water. Walking into a cove helps cut off their water escape and close shots can be had, but swimming or going through chest deep soft muck is often required.
Sometimes the frogs will herd up and hop together in packs. Several times, I saw groups of almost two dozen frogs hopping away from me. When I corned the pack in a grassy cove, the action was nonstop.
Another way to get the frogs is to walk unnoticed 10 to15 yards away from the bank, then slowly creep to the water’s edge. Of course, if the frogs see you first they usually jump, but with careful footwork big toads can be spotted.
Walking right along the shore is one of the most ineffective ways to find them because they almost always jump into deeper water before you can get into shooting position.
When a frog is spotted you never know if it will jump with your next step, so being accurate with the bow is important. Also, it’s a great, fun practice for deer hunting.
If a frog jumps into the deep water, it usually goes too far for a shot. But if a frog is startled when you have it cut off by walking in the deep water facing the bank, the frog sometimes goes onto the bank or hops a short distance to the side and a quick shot can be taken.
A startled frog rarely stays put for long, but a frog that’s spotted before it moves will usually sit tight.
There are many pros and cons of bow-frogging and I’ve learned a lot by using bow fishing rigs versus regular arrows, because losing carbon arrows isn’t fun. (But neither is missing with an inaccurate 1,100-grain fishing arrow.)
My next frog article will discuss the most efficient setups to shoot more frogs. Until then, when you want to beat the heat in the summertime, grab a bow or spear and give chasing frogs through the mud a try.