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Posted by Crome Doel
A chainsaw is a valuable tool when it comes to improving deer habitat and manipulating a landscape to enhance hunting strategies. It is also a tool that can severely injure or kill you, especially when used improperly.
One of the most common ways I see people mis-using a chainsaw is when they are cutting down large trees. Hinge-cutting is a popular technique for enhancing deer habitat, but this technique is best for small trees that you can easily handle. It’s not safe to attempt to hinge-cut large trees, for reasons I will explain. The trouble is, it’s tough to define “large” in terms of trunk diameter, because tree species vary in density and other characteristics that make them handle differently when cut, and even “small” trees can hurt you if you aren’t careful. Err on the side of caution: If in doubt when studying a particular tree, consider it “large.”
Here’s what people tend to do WRONG: They walk right up to these large trees and make a single felling cut, right into the trunk of the tree, and saw until the tree falls. Often this works, and no one gets hurt, and nothing valuable is destroyed. But these people should consider themselves lucky. They avoided several potentially bad outcomes of a cut like this.
First, when you cut a large tree like this, you have little control over the direction in which the tree will fall. Enough said.
Second, unless the tree has an obvious lean, you can sometimes end up with the weight of the tree squatting on the saw bar and pinching it. Now you’re in a mess. You’ll need wedges and an axe, or rope and a come-along, to open the cut and free your saw. Obviously, rescuing your saw when it’s pinched in a large tree is a risky operation on its own that is better avoided in the first place.
Third, and most significant, large trees cut down this way can perform a number of unexpected stunts as they fall, many of which can result in your being injured or even killed. One example is what’s known as a “barberchair.” Instead of leaning and falling as you saw through the trunk, the tree splits vertically until it snaps at some point above the ground, and the half-trunk and top of the tree fall straight to the ground. This often happens extremely fast, so fast that the chainsaw operator might still be standing at the base of the tree when it collapses.
"To see a classic barberchair, watch the video below. The saw operator was lucky that he heard the tree splitting and had removed his saw and backed away before the tree collapsed. He had time to get out of the way, but that is not always the case.."
- Crome Doel
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