A Writer's Playground

Monthly Activities for Kids by Linda Martin Andersen

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Timber Sports–Lumberjack Skills in Axe’tion

Posted by lindamartinandersen on July 27, 2013

“Timber Sports–Lumberjack Skills in Axe’tion” by Tim Livingston and posted by Linda Martin Andersen

“A Writer’s Playground”–A place to find wordplay, writing, and monthly calendar activities for kids and those young at heart.

July 25-27 is The Lumberjack World Championships.  To celebrate, Tim Livingston, a forester from California, is here to talk about timber sports.  I met Tim through his blog, the forester artist.  His combined interests intrigued me.  He is also a writer and photographer.  His wife, Mary, shares many similar interests. Together, they own a niche publishing company called Red Tail Publishing.   What a talented couple! 

To learn more about  the Livingstons check here: 




Readers, please welcome Tim Livingston.  In an earlier blog post, we gave Melissa Barr, our guest zookeeper, our best animal cry.  What if we give Tim our best forest cry:  TIM–BER.  I just realized we’ll be calling Tim’s name when we do that.  Must be meant to be.

Oops, did anyone besides me hear a tree fall?  Hopefully not.  Readers…here’s Tim.  You’re in for a treat!

As a Registered Professional Forester in California, I am often in the woods to meet with loggers. The loggers may have timber to show me that they are selling or I may be giving them instructions on log manufacturing for the mill.   When Linda asked me to write a guest blog about timber sports, she also posed the question, “What is a lumberjack, is that the same as a forester?”

A forester prepares the plans for how a forest will be managed.  Timber harvest planning, logging oversight, log procurement,  reforestation and general forest health are some aspects of a forester’s job.

The lumberjack, commonly referred to as logger, conducts the actual logging operations while following the harvest plans. They are the ones cutting trees and getting them to the mills.  Loggers need to be organized, understand basic physics and be good business people.  They have to be versatile, as some days they are road builders and other days they are preparing land for replanting.

Loggers are hardworking and hard playing people.  During the logging season they work long days in dirty and difficult conditions.  This kind of work environment breeds a strong camaraderie amongst fellow loggers.  It was this mindset that lead to the development of timber or lumberjack sports.

Timber sports are to loggers as rodeos are to cowboys.  Timber sports originated in the 19th century in logging camps and used the tools of the logging trade.  Logging camps began competing against each other, and eventually these local competitions grew into regional competitions.

The timber sporting events of today developed from the actual logging tools and jobs, both historic and modern.  These events test the skill and efficiency of using industry specific tools. Today, both men and women compete in the events.

Logrolling and boom running events originated from handling logs in ponds and on log drives in rivers.

Bucking and chopping events utilize crosscut saws (misery whips), chainsaws and axes.

Pole climbing tests the competitors’ ability to go up and down the trunk of a conifer tree. Even choker setting is a speed event.  A choker is the cable that hooks around a log to haul it in.

Choker Setting Event Copyright 2007 by Mary Livingston

Choker Setting Event
Copyright 2007 by Mary Livingston

Chocker Setting View Copyright by Mary Livingston 2007

Choker Setting View
Copyright by Mary Livingston 2007

The  axe throwing event is a test of skill and accuracy.

Axe Throwing Copyright by Mary Livingston 2007

Axe Throwing
Copyright by Mary Livingston 2007

Timber sports competitions are held in the United States, Canada, Norway, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.  Nearly all universities or colleges that offer forestry degrees also have a timber sports team.  Logging conferences are held throughout timber country for timber professionals.  These conferences usually hold timber sports competitions or demonstrations.  Most events are free to the public.  If you ever get a chance to attend a logging sports competition or demonstration I really encourage you to go.  Check online to see what is going on in your neck of the woods.

Our granddaughter was presented this chainsaw carved chair at a festival, after watching it be made. Copyright 2007 Mary Livingston

Our granddaughter was presented this chainsaw carved chair at a festival, after watching it be made.
Copyright 2007 Mary Livingston

The Lumberjack World Championships are July 25, 26 and 27 in Hayward, Wisconsin.  Competitors converge on Hayward from all over the world.  Check out their website at http://www.lumberjackworldchampionships.com/index.php.

Here are some other websites with information on timber sports events.

http://www.starinfo.com/ljguide/  This site is a clearing house of timber sports information.

https://www.facebook.com/STIHLTIMBERSPORTS  Stihl sponsors many timber sports events.

Back when I was in forestry school at Humboldt State University, I didn’t compete in timber sports.  It is something I wish I had done, but I didn’t think I had the time.  However, twenty-seven years after I was first at HSU, my youngest son also attended and he participated on the school timber sports team.  Incidentally, the school mascot is the Lumberjacks.

Our son in a log rolling contest Copyright 2007 Mary Livingston

Our son in a log rolling contest
Copyright 2007
Mary Livingston

Our son in a log rolling contest Copyright 2007 by Mary Livingston

Our son in a log rolling contest
Copyright 2007 by Mary Livingston

This weekend my wife, Mary (www.thebackdoorartist.com) and I will be attending the 66th Annual Lumberjack Fiesta in McCloud, CA.  McCloud is a small timber town in Northern California and the fiesta celebrates that heritage.  We will be representing Red Tail Publishing, and autographing books along with another author, Ivy Smith. Come down and say hello if you’re around.  If you can’t come down there will be a 15% off sale on all Red Tail Publishing books at www.redtail.com starting July 26th through August 4th .  Did I mention, there will be timber sports happening there!



Readers, if you get a chance, visit Tim and or Mary’s blog after the weekend and see if they post more about their adventures at the festival.  Once again, let’s thank Tim Livingston for sharing about forestry and lumberjack skills. 


Readers, please leave a question or a comment.  I encourage you to visit a timber sport in your area when you can.  And be sure to visit “A Writer’s Playground” again soon.  Bring a friend.

Copyright © 2013 Linda Martin Andersen

20 Responses to “Timber Sports–Lumberjack Skills in Axe’tion”

  1. Reblogged this on THE FORESTER ARTIST and commented:
    Thank you Linda Martin Andersen for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog!

  2. Well, thanks for something new and different for me. I’m sure those are wonderful sports to involve teens, and what better way to make a living than to preserve our forests. Kudos to Tim and Mary Livingston for what they do, and for sharing there story with all of us. Thanks Linda for such a great spotlight on a forester and his family.

    • Susan,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post so much. Tim does have a very special and important job. I have been looking forward to posting this one and your reaction made my day. Tim and Mary are a delightful couple. Did you notice that they also have their own niche publishing company?

  3. I remember writing an essay on lumberjacks when I was in the 8th grade.. the essay won first prize (and money!) in a school contest. So lumberjacks and logrolling have a special place in my heart. Thank you for the post, Linda!

  4. Hey, Tim, interesting meeting up with you and Mary here too. I enjoyed the blog. Have you ever thought of doing a book on timber sports?

    Thanks for an interesting blog topic, Linda.

    • Laurie,
      Thanks for stopping in and for leaving a comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog topic. Tim and Mary are a terrific team. I hope Tim responds to your question about creating a book on timber sports. I’d like to hear the answer to that one too.


    • Honestly Laurie, I had not although it is a great idea. I did take a quit a few pictures this year of timbersports. It’s great reference material. You make me think…..hmmm!

  5. Kathleen said

    What a great and interesting guest to have on your blog! Wonderful job Linda!

  6. Dear Linda,
    Thanks for having Tim on your blog. Paul Bunyan has nothing on Tim and the others who love Timber Sports!

  7. […] special thank you to Linda Martin Andersen for having me as her guest blogger last week on A Writer’s Playground.  Go check out her awesome […]

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