7.24.2009

The Bullfrog Invasion

When I was a kid about 12 or so we moved from the Atchafalaya river basin to a little town just north of Baton Rouge. Talk about culture shock for a young bayou boy. Well, what is a Cajun country boy to do in an urban environment? The answer was, to find places to do what he always did, and that's what gives rise to this tale.
It wasn't long before I made friends with the neighborhood boys. I was thrilled to have kids my age living so close and subdivision life was new and wonderful to me. I met a kindred spirit or 2 from the area and we became partners in mischief. One of our favorite summer night pastimes was to go frogging. The Southern bullfrog was very plentyful and easy to catch when I was a kid, and it didn't take long for a young Cajun boy to discover that the canal down the street and the golf course across the field were crawling with big ole bull frogs. The city folk didn't seem to mess with them and they were allowed to proliferate unchecked. It was froggy heaven for us young boys and we spent the summer happily frog hunting every Saturday night. On this particular night a friend and I started frogging by the bridge on the main street of our subdivision, walking the canal 'bout a mile 'til it came to this great big culvert . We crossed the street, ducked under a fence and kept walking along the canal, deep into a field. We were catching a big ole bullfrog every 100 yards or so, so we just kept walking and frogging and swatting skeeters and having fun. Frogs sit at night along the banks of waters, facing the water, watching for minnows and such to pounce on. A full grown bullfrog is a fierce preditor and will even eat small birds outa their nest. Catching the frogs on foot means slogging along muddy banks and that means tough walking. We followed the canal all the way to the big ole pond that fed it, walked around the pond and headed back. By the time we got back to the bridge where we could cross back to our side of the canal, we had a grass sack with maybe 4 or 5 dozen big bullfrogs. It was several miles and dang near dawn when we got home, thoroughly exhausted. After all this we were plumb whooped and in no mood to clean frogs. We were worried about leavin' them in the sack; scared that some cat or other varmint would get to them, so we decided to dump them into my dads huge ole aluminum ice chest. It was a great big thing, 'bout a 120 qt. affair with an aluminum outer shell and plastic lining. We poured the sack of frogs into the ice chest, slammed the lid and then got to thinking, "The ice chest was sealed tight; what if the frogs ran outa air?" We decided to prop the lid of the ice chest open with a small stick and then place a cinder block on top of the lid to weight it down. We were quite proud of our rig and figured the frogs couldn't get out the scant 1/4 inch crack we left; they would get plenty air, and the brick would keep any varmints out of the ice chest.
The sun was begining to cast its golden glow in the morning sky when we went to bed, planning to nap 'til 10 am or so, and then deal with the frogs.
Around 8 A.M. that morning, the door to my bedroom banged open. My Dad hollered at me by what I thought was my first name in them days. "*Damn-it-boy* get outa that bed and come see what a commotion you caused", he bellowed. I yawned stretched and hopped out of bed fully clothed. I had been too tired a few hours ago to remove the short pants and t-shirt I was wearing. I had just kicked my boots off at the door and dove in bed. I stepped out the back door to the biggest commotion my young eyes had ever beheld. Bullfrogs everywhere! Little boys chasing little girls with bullfrogs, dogs barking,cats pawing, moms screaming, all because of bullfrogs. I woulda never believed that a full growed 2 pound bullfrog could skinny through a 1/4" crack, but dang if the majority of them hadn't done just that! It took me for ever to round up all but 1 of those frogs. I got them home and Daddy cleaned them for me, as I chased around the neighborhood rescuing mothers and little sisters from frogs. I say I found all but 1 of them but I aint for sure. Several might have escaped or fell victim to any 1 of the several froggy horrors that they faced upon their escape. The one that did escape we got to know all too well though. He set up shop in a big concrete culvert that ran across the road. The 18" culvert stayed a third full of water most of the time, was full of minnows, tadpoles and crawfish; in short, it was froggy heaven. This frog plagued us all summer. For those of you who have never heard a bullfrog croak, I've included this clip from Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtAdhpTKmgg
Now imagine that sound magnified as if through a megaphone and you will get the idea what this frog sounded like when sounding off from this culvert. It took us all summer to finally root him out of there. Every time we would try to catch him he would hop back to safety into the middle of his own private shelter under the road. (I guess his past experiences had made him 'spooky'.)
All that summer we were sung asleep and awake by a gigantic low bellowing sound echoing from deep inside the culvert. It was one long hot croaky summer.
Post a Comment