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Hamilton County Outdoors -- 06/18/2014 Another hunting season is about to open: ribbit By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - Updated: 8:04 PM

It may only be a coincidence that Father's Day and the frog hunting season opener were the same day this year, not that a plate of frog legs could ever replace the traditional necktie. What is surprising is how many people are not aware frogs are a protected species in New York state, and can only be taken between June 15 and Sept. 30.

My first introduction to frogging occurred when I was a member of the Boy Scouts. I don't know if frogs were protected back then or if the scout leader would have been aware of it if they were, but all the kids in our "Pioneer" patrol sure had a great time hunting them down.

As I remember, it was sometime in late summer and we were paddling down the Delaware River not far from the Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camp in Narrowsburg. There were three of us in the canoe -- two scouts and the leader -- and as we slowly paddled about 10 feet away from the bank we searched the shore and giant lily pads for frogs. Our scout leader described the adventure as "frogging."

Using a Red Rider BB gun, my best school chum Marty Holliran and I took turns paddling and shooting at them, which I'm sure would be considered cruelty to animals by some today, if only because many of the frogs we shot had enough strength to leap into the water, where I'm equally as sure they became easy prey for fish. Still, by the time we reached the end of our journey we, along with two other patrols that were also frogging, had accumulated enough frogs for lunch.

Returning to camp, we cleaned the frogs, built a fire, cooked and ate the legs and, to eliminate any chance of getting hunger pains, topped it off with pretzels and chips, washing it down with Kool Aid.

Don't asked me what species of frogs we cooked up that afternoon, but considering leopard and pickerel frogs are the most abundant, I have to assume that's what they were. I also remember there wasn't much meat on those legs, which pretty much eliminates bullfrogs.

BULLFROGS ARE BIG

According to the DEC website, bullfrogs are mottled green and reach 6 to 8 inches in length. They are frequently seen along the banks, edges and shallows of warmer, permanent waters, especially those with floating or submerged vegetation. With their loud, bull-like resonant "rum-rum" noise they are a familiar sound on warm summer nights. Bullfrog legs are also considered a delicacy, not that any of the members of my old troop would have appreciated the difference.

I have eaten at fancier cookouts since that early campfire cookout, but none have been as memorable as that day at Ten Mile River.

With the exception of frogging the shores of Forked Lake in Hamilton County with my son Richie when he was 12 years old, I haven't been frog hunting in almost 40 years. If you have any thoughts of doing it yourself, the best time is during the early part of the season when they are most abundant.

The same can be said for catching them as bait, and with the opening of bass season just a week away you may want to begin now. Frogs are one of the easiest baits to keep alive, and while I generally use them the day they are caught, from what I've been told they will thrive for an extended period when kept cool and moist.

SOME FROGS PROTECTED

Under the law, northern cricket frogs and eastern spadefoot toads are protected year-round and, since the state Senate June 10 voted 53-4 to make the wood frog the state amphibian, I suspect that species will be protected as well. It's all spelled out on pages 42 and 43 in the small game section of the state hunting and trapping guide, which also describes the manner they may be taken. That includes spearing or with the use of a club or hook.

If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of people who wouldn't be able to tell the difference from a northern cricket frog and pickerel frog if your life depended on it, I suggest you visit www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/frogs.pdf before venturing out.

Just remember that when taken with gun or bow a small game hunting license is required. If any other means is used, any person who can legally fish may take them. They can also be caught by hand, so if your son, daughter or grandchild is quick you may want to bring them along. Besides, the kids will have just as much fun trying to catch them as they would hunting for them.

TRY A 'CAMPCATION'

The fragrance of fresh air, coupled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, are but two of the reasons that spur people to spend time outdoors. That, plus the fact a weekend stay in the woods is a lot more economical than a weekend in the Bahamas. The amenities may not be the same, but then again the Bahamas doesn't offer as much solitude as a forest does.

I mention this because this is the time of the year people start planning weekend trips. Kids will be getting out of school, dad is in line for vacation, and heaven knows mom could use the rest. And what better way than at one of the state-operated campgrounds? They're clean, they're close and they're economical.

STONY CREEK WILDERNESS?

Protect the Adirondacks, another environmental group that has a much different view of state-owned land than those of us who hunt, fish and trap, has established an online petition calling for the creation of a new 12,850-acre West Stony Creek Wilderness Area, consisting of 3,925 acres of lands the state purchased earlier this year from The Nature Conservancy and some 8,925 acres of existing Adirondack Forest Preserve lands in the towns of Benson, Mayfield, Northampton and Bleecker.

As a point of information, a 'Wilderness' land use classification as defined by the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan is "... where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man -- where man himself is a visitor who does not remain... further defined to mean... having a primeval character, without significant improvement... which is protected and managed so as to preserve, enhance and restore, where necessary, its natural conditions..."

In contrast, land classified as 'Wild Forest' allows "a somewhat higher degree of human use than in wilderness, primitive or canoe areas, while retaining an essentially wild character. A wild forest area is further defined as an area that frequently lacks the sense of remoteness of wilderness, primitive or canoe areas and that permits a wide variety of outdoor recreation."

You can read the entire description of each of the classifications on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/7811.html.

As far as I'm concerned, with more than 1.3 million acres of Wilderness land the state has enough acreage that can only be used by people who are in top physical condition, which I might add is less than one-third of the population, half of whom live within steel and concrete and couldn't identify a white pine tree from a red maple if they bumped into it.

The group has already contacted state officials, urging them to support the proposal. You may want to voice your opinion as well.

REVOKING GUN PERMITS

Michael Vass, a little known political blogger, has exposed a bill (HR 4660) that recently passed the House of Representatives that will enabled New York state (and any other state contributing to the NICS database) to violate HIPAA laws and revoke gun permits without justification or cause.

It would also, Vass wrote, "Provide $19.5 million to States to update the National Instant Criminal Background Check system."

"HR 4660 and specifically H Amd 704, is the Amendment that is critical to gun owners across the nation and especially in New York State," wrote Vass. Adding, "It sounds too crazy to be true, and most would think that defenders of the 2nd Amendment would prevent such a violation of rights to occur, but that is not the case."

To read the full text on Vass' blog visit: www.mvass.com/2014/05/31/house-of-representatives-passes-bill-enables-restriction-of-2nd-amendment-right/.

In a related matter, a majority of the members of the state Senate Codes Committee on June 10 indicated their strong opposition to legislation (S.68A /A.3244A) requiring the microstamping of ammunition.

FEWER SPRING TURKEYS

If you were among the many hunters who didn't shoot a gobbler during the spring turkey-hunting season, you weren't alone. According to DEC Regional Citizen Participation Specialist Wendy Rosenbach, the 2014 statewide reported take of about 6,900 birds is down about 25 percent from last spring and 20 percent below the five-year average. In addition, Rosenbach said the reported take of 470 birds for the youth hunt was also down about 25 percent from last spring and 12 percent below the long-term reported take for the youth hunt.

In response to the population decline the DEC is considering reducing both the number of hunting days and the bag limit during the fall season and possibly reducing the 2015 spring season to one bird.

Dropping anchor 'til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson with an event or club news or to send a photograph email to dnelsonrecorder@aol.com.

CALENDAR

June 21 -- Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation 23rd Annual Summer Fishing Contest, Great Sacandaga Lake, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Headquartered at Sport Island Pub, Northville. Randy Gardinier at (518) 848-7248, Jack Smith at (518) 863-1062 or chairman@gslff.com.

July 5 -- Kid's Fishing Derby, Byron Park on Lake Adirondack, Rt. 28, Town of Indian Lake. 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Ages 15 and under. All children get free use of a fishing pole (if needed), free bait, free lunch and free prizes. Pre-registration not required.

July 5 -- Indian Lake / Blue Mountain Lake Fish and Game Association Kids .22 Rifle Shoot, club range on Chain Lakes Rd. 2:30 p.m. Ages 16 and under (must be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Shooting is in a safe and supervised environment. Club members will provide gun safety instruction. Hand Dobbin (518) 251-4063.

     

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