Cletus and Zeke were in Flippin, Arkansas thinning a fifteen-year-old plantation of hardwoods that had been planted into played-out bottomlands.
The owner worked in Branson and was mostly an absentee owner.
He got them started. "You came highly recommended by David up in Illinois, so I know I don't have to tell you every little detail of the job."
He set them up with chainsaws, gas, files, spare chains and a gator for transportation.
"I want you to take out every third row but I want you to use your eyes and your brain. If the trees to either side of the row you are cutting will never make a good log, then cut one of them instead of the one in the row." the land owner said.
Driving around the property before they got started they saw that the landowner had the trees planted on ten-by-ten foot centers to make it easy to drive in the trees with the gator.
The trees had good growth. Weeds had been controlled the first couple of years with herbicide. Access lanes ran about every hundred yards.
As they cut, Zeke and Cletus topped out the thinnings that had a decent pole and tee-peed them in a convenient tree so they wouldn't rot. To minimize walk time they had a tee-pee every ten trees or so. They left the tops where they fell.
They cut the saplings at 4" so the gator could be driven over them without hanging up. Cutting at 4" minimized the risk of running the chain into the dirt.
Ultimately the owner wanted to manage for walnut and oak but the original planting was a blend with just about everything; gum, hickory, pecan, walnut, red oaks, white oaks, sycamore, locust, hackberry and cypress. He even had persimmon, cottonwoods and soft maples in the mix.
When they asked him about it, the land owner said that neither he or his children would live long enough to see the timber harvested but they would get enjoyment hunting the property and looking at the growing timber.
There was no drama. It was good work, good tools, good weather and a good boss. Afterward the landowner called his buddy in Illinois and thanked him for the recommendation.