Other than my recliner, I do not know of anything I find as comfortable as the warm glow and quiet hiss of a Coleman Lantern. When I think back, some of my best memories involve the warming glow of a Coleman lantern somewhere on the bank of the Gasconade River. I remember the bugs buzzing round the lantern globe and the faint smell of lantern fuel as it burns off into the night.
Other times I remember making campsites in the Mark Twain National Forest with little more than a tarp and a blanket. The Coleman lantern was always my beacon in the dark and a silent sentry through the night keeping the shadows and night sounds at bay.
I have at least a dozen lanterns scattered around the farm, the house and the garage. Some I have picked up at garage sales like stray puppies and others have been passed down through my family. Most are green, but my favorite is red, or as I like to call it “Little Red.“ Little Red has been dragged along with my friends and I on adventures and mis-adventures alike for more than 40 years. I have taken that little single burner lantern coon-hunting, camping, fishing, and caving. I have fed chickens, pigs and calves with it and have milked our old cow by it’s light. But I have used it the most for frog-gigging.
I didn’t have waders when I was young, just a “broom handle” frog gig and my little red Coleman Lantern. Light enough to carry all night, “Little Red” has been with me to hundreds of farm ponds, miles of the Gasconade River and most of Bryant Creek. Lantern held high, I scan the edge of the bank for those tell-tale shiny eyes. Wading slowly forward, so I don’t spook the croaking frog, I display my amazing dexterity by holding the lantern with one hand and striking with the frog gig from the other.
Frog gigging is a sport done best with friends and without planning for maximum fun. No expensive equipment, just a couple of burlap sacks, a few flashlights or lanterns and a three dollar frog gig mounted on an old broken broomstick. Your reward will be mud covered clothes, tears of laughter and hopefully a burlap sack with frogs kicking the sides.
Winter is ending and the weather is just starting to warm. Sitting outside the other night, I heard the distinct, “Bahruuuummmp!” of a rather large Missouri bullfrog among the usual “pond peepers.” Just a couple of more months and I am sure “Little Red” and I will be stuck in the mud, trying to get that bullfrog into my burlap sack.