Great State: The Frog commander was years too early for reality show

SPAULDING, OKLAHOMA — Feeding time on the Wingo ranch usually starts way before the sun comes up.

“How are you guys this morning,” he says to his cattle from atop his horse, Bob.

“What I do is convert grass into beef with a little bit of feed,” he adds.

The siren call of the feed truck is just that, a siren.

“We’re all too busy aren’t we?” he remarks.

Dave Wingo built this 1,700 acres of forest and pasture from next to nothing.

Most of the animals grazing on it are stocker calves.

The rest are candidates for steer roping, his newest hobby.

“I am the Steer Commander dude,” he states to a couple of roping calves.

He only started riding a few years ago, roping too.

“We put on a few ropings and had a lot of fun doing it,” he says.

Wingo has been a lot of things in his short life, school teacher, soil conservationist, and 20 years ago, a ‘moonlighting’ frog hunter.

“It’s frogging weather,” he said in August of 1993, “And I’m ready to get one of them.”

We tagged along on night to catch frogs in a gig and listened to Dave hold forth on this sport of kings.

“A guy needs to squeeze in just a little bit of time for frog hunting because it sure won’t be counted against him,” he said.

The story we produced had legs of its own.

Kids used to recognize ‘the frog gigger’ in the grocery store.

Looking back on it now, Wingo figures his short-lived fame came too early.

“Me and you. We should be famous Galen,” he says.

“We were cool way before the Duck Commander and the frog commander. We were out there showing them how it’s done.”

He’s settled down now, no longer working two jobs to grow his ranch holdings.

Dave Wingo still goes frog hunting from time to time but his favorite spot sits atop a hill overlooking the South Canadian River.

The frog hunter we knew 20 years ago is still the same guy, and still looking for adventure on his own terms.