Strange Tree Felling Strategy

Strange Tree Felling Strategy

By Keith Hawkins SW LA Area Extension Forester

     In my work for the LSU AgCenter as an Extension Forester, I cover several parishes in southwest Louisiana, including Jefferson Davis Parish. At a meeting a while back, I visited with Allen Hogan,  County Agent in Jeff Davis at that time, to ask about any tree and forestry issues. He had none at that time, but shared with me a strange question from a citizen.

This citizen was interested in “spiking” or killing a tree by chemical means. Allen shared with him how to do it.  During the course of their visit, Allen asked why he wanted to kill it. This gentleman wanted to kill it so that he could fell it.  This reason begs the question, “why not just cut the live tree down?”  Allen went to explain that felling a live tree is safer than felling a dead tree because tops and branches of a dead tree might break off during the sawing. The broken parts of the tree could cause blunt or penetrating traumas.

Allen advised this person correctly because the AgCenter, like other agencies, share a concern for public safety.  Dr. Niels de Hoop, an Extension Forestry Specialist, wrote a flyer entitled, “Operating a Chainsaw Safely” as part of a “Disaster Information Sources” series of publications after the evil twin sisters of Katrina and Rita. Still, this flyer has valuable information for regular chainsaw use.

One section of this flyer is devoted to “Personal Protective Equipment”, and describes the various items a sawyer should have to stay protected from chainsaw injuries. I can personally attest to the benefit of chaps, which protect the legs from violent lacerations. As a forestry student during a thinning exercise, the chaps effectively kept the saw off my left leg. I also have a negative example. I was merely cutting a few saplings with chaps and could not be troubled with the inconvenience of putting on a pair of chaps. As I was cutting, the saw got on my right thigh. Fortunately, I only had a flesh wound and holey jeans. Still, that incident was a wakeup call to always use chaps, even for those seemingly trivial tasks with a chainsaw.

Another item is a hard hat which Allen’ citizen would have definitely needed if he had tried to fell a snag, or a dead tree, would be a hardhat. Dead or live tree, a hard hat is vital. Other important safety equipment includes safety goggles, ear protection, gloves, and high top boots.

Other topics in this flyer address how to safely deal with kickback, fuel handling, and cutting.  This flyer is available from offices of the LSU AgCenter at no charge. This flyer is also available online at Enter “chainsaw safety” in the site’s search engine to find and then print this page. One use of this flyer is to make copies and use those copies to hand out at safety meetings for personnel who occasionally or regularly use chainsaws.

If you have questions about forestry or trees, feel free to contact Keith Hawkins at 337-463-7006 or email at  Finally, feel free to visit this website: for other articles relating to forestry and natural resources.

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