'Louisiana Pastimes' - a great read

Louisiana Pastimes, authored by Dr. Terry Jones, is a great read covering our history and how life was in our state’s outdoors centuries ago. (Photo by Glynn Harris)

When I pick up a book to read, I want to be informed, inspired as well as entertained. Frankly, I have no time for long boring page after page of stuff that might be good but I’m just not put together that way.

This is why “Louisiana Pastimes” was able to hold my attention from page one to page 160. There no way this book, written by retired ULM history professor Dr. Terry L. Jones, is boring. Sure, it contains a lot of historical stories about Louisiana, things I never knew about our state but I have been enlightened by reading them.

For example, I was intrigued by the chapter on our state’s early game laws, the first deer hunters and how they operated, the great Red River raft and how this hundred mile long tangle of fallen trees and logs blocked the river but was responsible for the creation of our so-called “raft lakes”, including Lake Bistineau, Black Lake, Saline Lake and others. Fascinating stuff.

Just who is this guy, Dr. Terry L. Jones? I have known him for years as he and I share membership in the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association and the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. Last year, I accompanied him to one of his favorite hangouts, the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge to observe and photograph the plethora of wildlife making the Tensas their home.

He was born in Mississippi but grew up in Winn Parish, graduating from Dodson High School with degrees in social studies and American history from LA Tech and from Texas A&M where he received his PhD. Jones had a teaching career in high schools and eventually retired from ULM as a professor emeritus of history. “Louisiana Pastimes” is the tenth book he has authored.

In addition to his work in academia, growing up as a country boy in rural Winn Parish, Jones spent untold hours in the woods surrounding his beloved Dugdemona bayou after deer, squirrels and ducks. He doesn’t brag about the mounts he has on his wall in his W. Monroe home but he doesn’t have to; I know him as a fellow who doesn’t hesitate to hit the woods before daylight often coming out after dark dragging out a big buck he has shot.  

Five years ago, he decided to put a collection of 50 of his most popular columns he has written for magazines and newspapers into a book, and as a result, “Louisiana Pastimes” was born.

All the stories in the book have Louisiana roots and you’ll read some pretty off-the-wall accounts in chapters with such titles as Hippos in the Heartland; Squirrel Stampede; Is Bigfoot in Louisiana?; Panther Tales; Louisiana’s Wild Men; The Wild Girl of Catahoula and more.

On the historical side, Jones writes stories of the first mound builders in Louisiana at Poverty Point with carbon dating going back to several hundred years BC, the state’s only fatal alligator attack which was documented and reported in 1734, and the origin of Louisiana’s state seal.

Jones adds some of his personal accounts, mostly mishaps that have befallen him during his outdoors ventures. His wife, Carol, calls these “Terry Moments”.

With our population being “sheltered in-place” because of the Coronavirus, sitting down and reading a good book can be just the ticket to take minds off the dangers lurking all around us.   

For an inscribed copy, order “Louisiana Pastimes” directly by sending your check for $25 to Terry L. Jones, P.O. Box 1581, W. Monroe, LA 71294.

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