By Travis Dotson
“. . . when that tree gets held up by some of its tree buddies anywhere shy of the dirt, the only thing damaged at that point is our ego.”
Yes, you read that title correctly.
I’m suggesting that if you are trying to put a tree on the ground and you end up with that soul-crushing situation of no BIG BOOM because the tree never hit the ground—don’t try to fix it yourself.
Give the saw to someone else and let them figure out if it’s worth it to mess with. If they think it is worth the risk, let them figure out how to go about it. No, I’m not suggesting this as punishment. I’m suggesting this as a simple check-and-balance.
Here’s the deal—and you already know this—when that tree gets held up by some of its tree buddies anywhere shy of the dirt, the only thing damaged at that point is our ego. We will go to great lengths to repair that damage. And by “great lengths” I mean we will take on more risk than normal and maybe not see things as clearly as someone else with less attachment to seeing that chunk of wood fully horizontal.
This Makes Sense on Prescribed Fires – Why Not With Tree Felling?
We do this on prescribed fires.
Surely, you’ve been at the briefing before the test fire where they talk about the “if we lose it” process. It goes like this: “If we’re down there pulling fire around the dogleg when it decides to get up and run over the hill and we can’t catch it, the Burn Boss will declare an escape and __________ will assume command as the IC.”
Why do we set it up that way? Why not keep the Burn Boss in charge? No brainer right?
That Burn Boss might have a bit more invested and unconsciously end up being a more aggressive dog catcher than the situation calls for. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s why we put a little check in the process there, to help ourselves out with some pre-planned protocol to override our humanness.
So why not do it with trees? Same deal. It happens. You’ve been there. Yeah, I know all about how we “clean up our own mess” and “finish the job.” I feel that – I really do because I’ve followed bad cuts with more bad cuts on more than one occasion. I’m just saying our judgement in that moment might not be as good as it normally is because our self-image as “proficient faller” just got punched in the eye and we often try to sooth it with some “watch-this” double-down action. Don’t lie to yourself.
If handing the saw over is just not an option—physically or emotionally—at least turn it off, set it down, take a deep breath and laugh a little. Reset. Then start a whole new size-up because this is an entirely new situation. You may not even be qualified to tackle it.
Why is it you keep flagging in your pack?