Murray prepares for night of frog gigging

Published 11:42 pm Sunday, June 8, 2008

NATCHEZ — When the sun goes down and the frogs start croaking, on a boat with his friends is where Joe Murray finds his greatest pleasure.

For 25 years, two or three times a month, Joe Murray loads up his boat with all gear necessary for a serious frog hunt.

When The Dart landed on St. Charles Avenue, Murray was outside hosing off his johnboat in preparation for his frog hunt.

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Murray and two of his friends were going to trek out into the dark bayous of Louisiana for that night’s kill.

Working together as a three-part-well oiled machine, one person mans the boat, the other snags the amphibians and the other one skins and cleans those captured on the spot.

“We skin them right there,” Murray said. “It’s just like cleaning fish.”

Murray said two things are uncertain when going out frogging.

First is the size of the haul.

“You may catch 100,” he said.

It is typical however to catch between 50 and 60.

The second uncertainty is the things that can be seen in the still murky waters or on the dark banks.

“You see a lot of neat things,” Murray said.

One time he and his friend scooped a baby alligator out of the water and took its picture before releasing it.

Another time they saw an alligator they didn’t want their hands anywhere near.

“Some you see out there are as big as this boat,” Murray said while pointing at his 14-foot boat.

He said when the big ones submerge right before the boat glides over he gets nervous, hoping they don’t pop out of the water as they go across.

Murray said they also see a lot of deer.

“Once we pulled up on an eight-point right on the bank,” he said.

Murray said he’s always ready with his camera and has a whole collection of photos from his hunts.

Murray usually just goes with his friends, his oldest son Cooper, 9, is not a big fan of frog hunting.

It’s more up his 7-year-old son Conner’s alley.

“This is my outdoorsmen,” he said referring Conner. “He’s the go-getter.”

When the hunt, which begins around 9 p.m. and lasts until around 2 a.m., is over, the frogs eventually find their way into many stomachs — not just Murray’s.

“To be honest, I’ll keep and cook some for myself but I give most of them away,” he said.

It’s the sport he enjoys the most.

“I just like getting out there and catching them,” he said.