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Wigglin’ in the woods


95% of our clients are not true ranchers or land managers. They have generally made their fortunes elsewhere and the rural land they buy is for the enjoyment of them and their families.

So try this scenario — you just purchased 800 acres of pine and hardwood forest 2 hours from where you live. You purchased it pretty much blind…. there was an aerial photo 10 years old and you were able to drive down a rough, washed out logging road that covered about 1/20th of the property. There is no water, electricity, septic or buildings on the property. No fences, no gates…. just raw property. What do you do?

This client called us. We followed a logical series of steps. Push out a substantial right of way for a hard gravel road and electric easement. Install a septic tank and RV parking area.

Impenetrable woods of East Texas

Impenetrable woods of East Texas

Then based on topo maps we start “exploring”. Now you may think exploring means taking the Mule or walking but that is not possible on most of the property. The underbrush is too thick

So we do what we do best. The property has to be opened up so the land owner can decide where he would like his lake and his house. If you don’t explore all of it, what happens a year later when you find THE place for your house that was previously unknown? It pays off to be thorough and patient and discover all the assets before you commit.

John Deere 750C with the forestry package

John Deere 750C with the forestry package

The John Deere 750C bulldozer is made to work in the woods. The 750 is the next to smallest out of the 4 tractors we have but its’ compact size is deceptive. It has a powerful 6 cylinder diesel normally found in tractors a size or two larger. For those interested, it weighs almost 40,000 lbs of which almost 5,000lbs is the blade. It is 12 feet tall and 18ft long. The blade is 11′ wide and is a 6 way blade which means it pivots up and down and back and forth. For the RV weight police (and you know who you are 🙂 ), its’  tow rating at the hitch is 50,000 lbs. Our 750 also has the Forestry package which is evident in the photo. Heavy screens on the doors and windows. A cover over the air intake and heavy shields over the hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic lines that operate the blade. It also has a heavy steel belly pan that completely encloses the bottom of the tractor. Even with all that it still is vulnerable. The front windshield is not screened and the radiator opening is not armored. The 750 is joystick controlled with a variable speed hydrostatic drive. It is extremely nimble in the woods and will actually counter-rotate on the tracks and reverse direction in its’ own length. These are the reasons we prefer it for dense clearing work like this project north of Newton, Tx.

I cannot really describe how difficult this process is.

A new trail after a hard nights rain

A new trail after a hard nights rain

You start into the woods and you wiggle a little to the right and you wiggle a little to the left — 5 or 6 feet at a time.  You cannot push the brush straight head because it quickly grows so large it will block your way.  So you wiggle and wiggle and push the brush and trees to the side making an 11 or 12 foot tunnel through the woods as you go.  I say tunnel because you cannot really see anything except for where you have opened it up.  You can’t walk forward to look because it is just too thick.  Sometimes I crawl up on top of the cab and that puts me 20 feet above the forest floor.  We also use hand held GPS systems to aid navigation and they are invaluable when your are a half mile into the woods with no idea where your “break out” point on the other end is.

The Mule on a trail in the hardwoods.

The Mule on a trail in the hardwoods.

The trails when completed are just that  -narrow and twisty and they are most suited for a 4 wheeler or Mule.  Any other vehicle except for perhaps a small jeep just could not negotiate them. Some of the trails into the more desirable areas will be improved into forest roads. The picture on the left is a perfect example of discovering something new. This is an area of mature hardwoods with white oak trees soaring over 150 feet. They have canopied over and the underbrush is much lighter as a result. This area of several acres is completely encircled by pine trees and heavy underbrush. It would have remained unexplored for who knows how long if we had not opened it up.

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