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home : columns : columns June 28, 2016


9/11/2013 1:21:00 PM
More than you might want to know about frogs

Ron Kuecker
Outdoors Columnist


It's pretty funny when you first see it. An 80-pound chocolate lab with a pair of frog legs sticking out the side of his mouth would probably make even the most avid wildlife protectionist smile.
Well, I've been seeing a lot of that lately while lakeside mowing near Lake Augusta in Cottonwood County and Lake Amelia in Pope County with the brown dog nearby. The frogs by the dozens have been leaping out ahead of the mower only to find they've attracted a big dog that hasn't lost its ancestral urging to feed itself.
I can honestly say that I am sure he grabbed up eight to ten frogs following a chase in the short grass after the fleeing leapers. I watched him closely for abdominal distress and seeing none didn't try to restrain him. Also, realizing how many were present, he probably only caught one in a hundred.
What a change from a couple of decades ago when people thought frogs were bordering on extinction. A Minnesota science teacher and his class had found a bunch of deformed frogs missing legs. The story raced around the world in a few weeks and was written up in scientific journals for years. Causal suspects included most pesticides, global warming, and fungal and viral infections. But the real problem was simply that fogs are quite prone to mutations and they can occur in closely related colonies of frogs on occasion.
Well, I've seen no deformities among the hundreds of green and brown frogs I've watched this summer and believe you me, the law of survival of the fittest is working well around my lawn mower this summer.
Frogs as fish bait
My two old lakeside buddies, Bud and Dick Phillips taught me a lot about old time fishing techniques. They were accumulated pre-electronics and even pre-modern bait shops.
One of their favorite fall techniques was to catch frogs and use them near the cattails for catching big bass. In fact, they would save the big fish they caught during the week in a live box just to taunt me on the weekends. Four to five pounders were not uncommon.
Well I caught a nice frog and tried it last week. I cast it out from shore and it immediately began hopping back to shore. Then the dog, that I'm trying to teach the difference between casting bait and throwing retrieving dummies, went after the returning frog. The line got tangled in the protruding end of his collar but luckily no lip, hook incident.
Then I thought a bit, Bud and Dick fished their frogs from a boat. Their line and bobber kept the frog from reaching shore, created lots of action and the big black bass bit, not the big brown dog.
Tree frogs too
The Marshall grandkids, seven and 11, have been having great fun watching tree frogs recently. The little green or brown frogs with suction cups on their feet have been crawling up on the outside of the picture window in their house after dark. Inside lights attract a myriad of bugs to the outer pane and watching the small insectivores gobble them up from inside the house is something few have a chance to see.
Over Labor Day at our cabin one of the brightest green little fellows even found its way inside. It was probably picking up bugs at the base of the door and just hopped in without an invitation. Wife found it, calmly caught it, set it back outside, no problem; she's been a cabin gal all her life.
Our pheasant's plight
The Minnesota roadside pheasant count is due out this week after I've written this column. Only a few expect it to be good. That's true especially after the No. 1 pheasant state in the world, South Dakota, reported a 76% drop from their 10-year average.
Brother lives just northwest of Watertown and recently commented to me that after his retirement "I moved to South Dakota for the pheasants and now we don't have any."
Last week's release of information gathered from South Dakota's annual pheasant count showed an average of 1.52 pheasants per mile across the state. That is down from 4.19 per mile in 2012.
Chamberlain was high at 2.66 pheasants per mile but was down 75% from last year and 83% over 10. Aberdeen and Mitchell had 1.7 per mile but Brookings and Watertown had only .77 per mile. The Sisseton area, near where my brother lives in Florence, had only .47 pheasants per mile.
When this week's Minnesota count comes out watch not only for the percentage change but the number of pheasants per mile. It will be pretty sad I expect and the big question in my mind is, will it ever come back?
Great day for youth
This Saturday, September 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. should be a great day for young people to learn about hunting. A Youth Hunting Rendezvous will be held at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters one mile east of McDonald's. Dogs, decoys, game calling, a free noon lunch. Get a free goose call and other prizes. Sounds like a really good event to me!










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