This is a book of short stories based on the experiences of the Henningson family and a group of friends who have worked, fished, skied, snow shoed and hunted together on the edge of the Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area in the Northwest Corner of Warren County, New York for over 50 years. The events took place between 1960 and 2009.
Although the stories are true, our memories have faded regarding some of the finer details. Events may have been embellished somewhat, which is common with camp stories passed down through oral history. We believe that these memories are too precious to forget or leave unrecorded. Therefore, collectively, we have compiled some of our favorites. Whenever possible we have illustrated the stories with hand-drawn sketches or annotated maps and pictures.
Many of these stories are about hunting white-tailed deer in the wilderness. To be successful, hunters under these conditions need to develop a broad array of skills and become comfortable with the habitat. Today, the number of hunters in New York State is rapidly declining; perhaps half what it was 50 years ago. Commonly urban activists decry hunting as a “blood sport”. However, for the main characters in these stories, the Henningson brothers Peter, Art and John, hunting wasn’t just sport. Rather it reflected a complex set of values developed over time and nurtured by our father, Arthur Senior. In fact, Art, John, Sister Judy and their “adopted” sibling, Jim all attended the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. There, we learned the ecological foundations of modern, science based, wildlife and forest management practices. Consequently, our ingrained values were further buttressed by our professional training. In addition, the camp and associated outdoor activities became a unifying factor in times of stress or family turmoil. The wilderness was a balm to sooth the angst of modern day life.
However, beneath all this, is a love story about our love of a wild unspoiled wilderness and those who share that affection with us. This book is dedicated to Art and Marjorie who gave us a set of values to support us in difficult and troubled times, a deep and abiding sense of family love that transcended sibling rivalry and a place in the wilderness.
I would like to express great appreciation to my siblings and friends who have shared their experiences and written portions of the book. Further, the book is greatly enhanced by Brother Arthur’s illustrations. Finally, I want to thank my sister Judith for taking on the tedious job of reformatting and editing this conglomeration of thoughts and memories.
We hope that you enjoy the stories as much as we, who actually experienced them. Perhaps they will inspire others to document their family history and pass it on as a valuable gift to the generations that follow.