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Published January 02 2012

Hunter pens book on trip of a lifetime

FARGO – The title of Michael P. Jones’ book may not be original, but it certainly is accurate.

For 30 years, the Fargo native and longtime bird hunter wanted to follow the migration of waterfowl from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It was No. 1 on his “bucket list” of things to do before he dies.

He achieved his dream last year, chronicling the journey in a book published in August, titled “Trip of a Life Time Notes.”

The 54-year-old had worked much of his adult life for his father’s construction company here.

After retiring for medical reasons, Jones started saving his money. He spent three months planning the trip and getting the necessary hunting licenses.

It began Oct. 3, 2010, in northwest Saskatchewan, where Jones, his brother and two friends bagged 72 geese in 28 minutes.

“Our limit was done real quick. That’s why I had time to write this book,” Jones chuckled.

He headed south from Canada, skipping North Dakota, South Dakota and Missouri, all of which he had hunted before.

In Arkansas, he got his first taste of the South – though the 12-degree temperature felt more like the North.

He reached his final destination, Louisiana, in January. The state yielded some of the trip’s more colorful tales, like running into “one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen in my life” in a motel parking lot in Monroe, only to learn she was a prostitute.

By Jones’ side on the trip was his 11-year-old German wirehaired pointer, Arnie, who has since died.

“Ugliest dog you’d ever want to see, but he’d just hunt like nobody’s tomorrow,” Jones said.

Jones met people from all over the world in Louisiana. A Syrian man who lived in Lake Charles paid him to use Arnie for hunting quail. At a restaurant in Breaux Bridge, “The Crawfish Capital of the World,” Jones, a former chef, savored the homemade biscuits and pork chops served up every morning by a French chef.

“The deal was I would bring her all of my quail and pheasants and she could have them, but she had to cook me a couple meals with them,” he said.

It wasn’t just his belly that felt good. Jones, who shed 52 pounds shaping up for the trip, had previously dealt with cancer, epilepsy, gland problems and a full knee replacement.

“But this whole trip was the best I’ve felt in years,” he said.

The 44-page book was published by Xlibris Corp. and is available at www.barnesandnoble.com.

Jones is already working on a second book. It’s also about hunting, but with at least one change that should make it more true to the sport.

“I’m going to make up a lot more lies,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528