At a secluded Mississippi Delta deer camp in 1963, my grandmother, Florence Huffman, learned a hard lesson about history: That it could be a dubious ally. That year, a slate of federal flood control projects forced Mama Florence, as we called her, to abandon her home and beloved woods to the bulldozers, and transformed her collection of cherished snapshots, chronicling four decades in one of the South’s last great wilderness areas, into historic artifacts almost overnight.
Mama Florence had always loved history, and she was a devoted documentarian. But she was not ready, in 1963, to consign to the archives the evidence of happy times with my grandfather, Paul King Huffman, and their friends in the woods along remote Steele Bayou.
They had come to the Steele Bayou wilderness in Mississippi’s Issaquena County in 1927, on a squirrel hunting trip. The hunts soon became their preoccupation, and they began to spend more of the off-season there as well, fishing, camping and exploring the woods. In 1939, they founded the Ten Point Deer Club, and, in 1952, my grandparents moved to the club’s rustic camp house to live year-round.
Mama Florence had fashioned a novel life for herself there – as a female hunter in an exclusively male club, as a dogged photographer of every aspect of the club’s hunts, and as the wife of a man whose consuming interest was to spend as much time as possible in one of North America’s most fabled hunting grounds. Until the early 1960s, she was unaware that the way of life that had drawn them there was ultimately doomed. But from the beginning, for the sake of posterity, she carried alongside her shotgun a trusty Hollywood Reflect camera. In the end, her snapshots proved to be the greatest trophies that anyone took from the woods.
-- From Ten Point: Deer Camp in the Mississippi Delta, by Alan Huffman, with photographs by Florence West Huffman, ©1997, University of Mississippi Press