By Stafford Shurden
Somewhere in my childhood I discovered that my Mom would let me ride my four wheeler around at night with a gun if I was frog hunting. Of course I was hooked right there. My friends and I would ride around drainage ditches out on the farm with a light in search of frogs. We shot most with a 22 rifle but we soon discovered frog gigs. We would buy the gigs and attach them to long sticks of conduit to reach the low water of the ditches we hunted.
I can remember like it was yesterday. The sound of six or seven four wheelers thundering off the county road to the muddy turn roads of Shurden Farms. I can still feel the night air on my face as I filled my lungs with the clean oxygen. I can see the sun set and remember how my vision would narrow and shorten to the view of the one headlight on my Honda four wheeler. I remember the comradery of the other young hunters as we would ride across the Delta night like soldiers on horseback patrolling without fear. In one word, it was freedom.
There is no doubt that frog hunting was an excuse for a teenage boy to get out at night with his friends. I can’t even explain to a city kid how freedom like that feels. It’s like the most politically incorrect thing I can think of. We were not even old enough for a driver’s license yet here we were out at all hours of the night shooting stuff. I bet some might even call that bad parenting.
I think that one of the reasons I could handle going off to college was because of the trust my parents bestowed upon me. Even as a young teenager it was not lost on me that I got to do things others didn’t. I would never want to lose that freedom.
Now I am not saying that freedom is frog hunting. What I am saying is I really believe that we as a nation have become too overprotective. We fear failure. We fear pain. Not just for our children but for ourselves. Our country is great because of people who took risks for a better tomorrow. I am thankful that I did not have overprotective parents. I think they understood that we as God’s children all have a greater self in us and it’s not something we can find sitting on the sidelines trying not to get hurt. Thank you Bubba and Ann Dow Shurden for trusting me and letting me find my own path.
They say frog legs taste like chicken. It really is true. Most people eat them fried. At 1933 we batter and fry them and toss them in our wing sauce. We call them “hop wings”. An idea we borrowed from Chef David Crews.
1 lbs Mississippi Frog Legs, you can buy farm raised
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup wing sauce, you can buy this or make your own
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a paper back. Put the frog legs in the bag and shake. Fry the legs in a countertop deep fryer or a skillet at 350 degrees. Legs are done when they begin to brown. Remove from oil. Place in a large mixing bowl, add sauce and toss together coating all legs. Serve immediately with ranch dressing.
Stafford Shurden is a lifelong resident of the Delta and owns 1933 Restaurant & Bar in Ruleville and Stafford’s Market and Deli in Drew. firstname.lastname@example.org