Tuesday 7 February 2023

Shooting Trees

    Going through my 1982 diary, I was reminded of one of the more unusual jobs I got while working for the BC Forest Service:

One of the things I always enjoyed about working for the Forest Service was that there were always days when I would be asked to join other co-workers to help them with their jobs.  In the middle of February, the weather was rather mild and I was diverted from my timber cruising  and the typing out of History Records (of cutblocks) jobs and was asked to help the Silviculture Section collect fir and spruce cones that were then send to the Research Branch in Victoria.

This assignment was certainly unexpected surprise because it involved the shooting off of branches laden with cones from high in the tree with a 22 rifle.  I had seen the rifles before in the Forestry warehouse and always wondered why they were there.   I had always hated and avoided guns, and had no experience with firearms.  Luckily, my friend John Bird was my co-worker in the job and he had firearm experience and did most of the shooting.  

It didn’t seem like a very efficient way to get cones, because a lot of shots had to be fired before a branch came down.  I guessed shooting a gun at branches was better than cutting the whole tree down just to collect a small bagful of cones.  

Once the shot-off branch had fallen to the ground, we collected them and stuffed them into bags and filled out tags that told where they were collected.  Beside shooting off branches, we also collected cones from branches left on the ground from areas that had been recently logged.

When we arrived at one cutblock in our Forestry truck, we came across a Mennonite boy collecting firewood and throwing the pieces into the back of a pickup.  Officially, that was illegal, but I always thought it was better to use the abandoned wood rather than just let it rot.  

We stopped to talk to him and to break the ice and to show him we didn’t mind him taking firewood, I joked to him that if his load got too heavy, he could drop some of the firewood off at my house.  I smiled at my cleverness and thought no more about it, but when I got home from work, there were some pieces of firewood beside my driveway.  I then felt bad, thinking that maybe the boy thought I was pressuring him. 

View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


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