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The logging odyssey of David Hutsenpiller.

– Samantha Paul, marketing

Like many other logging contractors, David Hutsenpiller was preceded in the business by his father and grandfather. David’s father Clayton started in the industry firing a sawmill boiler barefoot at age twelve. David began by driving his father’s logging trucks and did so for over twenty years.

Steep terrain of Beckley, West Virginia: a river flows through a Valley

Steep terrain of Beckley, West Virginia.

Clayton retired after 50 years of successful logging and left the operation to David in 2000. David decided to name his company Against the Grain Logging and soon realized that trucking had been the easy part.

Best practices

David and his crew are currently located in Beckley, West Virginia and have a bit over 100 acres (40 hectares) of hilly terrain to clear-cut. If the weather stays cold and dry – allowing their skid road to hold up – they should complete the job just after

David Hutsenpiller, owner of Against the Grain Logging.

David Hutsenpiller, owner of Against the Grain Logging.


Pat Garrett, local sales specialist for Tigercat dealer, Ricer Equipment, comments on the steep terrain of David’s logging site, “I have never seen anything like it. It is one of the steepest operations in the area.” David can attest to this since the initial skid road was too steep and slick so they had to create a second road with a better grade.

David is well educated on harvesting management and meticulously follows best management practices (BMPs) by David Hutsenpiller, owner of installing water bars Against the Grain Logging. and seeding after a harvest to prevent erosion. A water bar is a combination of a mound and trench angling across the road to intercept and disperse water flowing down the road surface. By constructing a series of water bars at intervals along a road, the volume of water flowing down the road is reduced. Without water bars, flooding, washouts and accelerated road degradation can occur.

David also applies special grass seed to the access road, skid trails and landings to encourage the development of dense roots that bind the soil, holding it in place

 The 635E making its way down the steep skid road with a load of oak, maple and poplar.

The 635E making its way down the steep skid road with a load of oak, maple and poplar.

regardless of the weather. The idea behind seeding is to improve the absorbency of forest soils to prevent water erosion. The process requires liming to improve the pH level of the soil, fertilizing the soil, applying the seed and finally mulching the seed.

David likes that he is able to use his track feller buncher to pick merchantable trees out of streamside management zones (SMZ) without disrupting the stream or adjacent trees. Sometimes he will even leave a den of trees behind for wildlife and pile stumps or tops around residual trees in order to prevent skidding damage.


Against the grain gear

Not only does BTB admire David’s logging methods but he has also been a true pioneer for Tigercat machines. In 2006, David purchased the first Tigercat skidder to come into southern West Virginia, a 630C model. He also purchased the first LX822C leveling track cutter in the area.

The newest family member, a 635E six-wheel bogie skidder making its way down the steep skid trail (over 40% grade in some spots).

The newest family member, a 635E six-wheel bogie skidder making its way down the steep skid trail (over 40% grade in some spots).

David’s operation is all Tigercat machines with a 234 loader and a LX822C track feller buncher. The most recent member of the family is the 635E six-wheel bogie skidder, which replaced the Tigercat 630C.

David comments, “The larger 635E skidder has made a significant difference in our operation. The 635E handles twice the load of the old skidder, which means fewer trips, less fuel and more production.”

Blue skies and a LX822C on a slope equipped with a 5702 felling saw.

David operating the LX822C equipped with a 5702 felling saw.

David has had the LX822C feller buncher for just over fi ve years, accumulating 1,200 hours per year. “No machine is perfect but it is much better than the Timbco I previously had and it is much more stable in the woods.”

Cochrane brothers

David employs two brothers on his operation, Ronny and Matt Cochrane. Ronny has been operating the 234 loader for David since April of last year. The loader has 3,000 hours on it and is going strong. The crew usually trucks four or five loads a day with the majority of logs being shipped to Rainco Forest Resources, a lumber brokerage eight miles down the road. The poplar peelers are separated and sent to Craigsville in West Virginia to make plywood and the pulpwood is sent to a paper mill in Covington, Virginia.

Matthew Cochrane, Ronny’s younger brother, operated the older Tigercat 630C skidder and is now operating the 635E skidder. He loves the Turnaround® seat and he can’t believe how much wood the machine can pull. “I can fill a trailer in four loads rather than the eight loads I had to pull with the older Tigercat.” He has also noticed a tremendous improvement in fuel economy with the new machine. “The 635E burns approximately two gallons less per hour than the nine-year-old 630C machine.”

What’s next…. retirement?

David loves to log and it shows in his extracurricular activities. He writes the occasional letter to the editor on trucking and logging issues. He has spoken before the Charleston legislative committee considering issues related to the West Virginia timber industry. He was a member of the board of directors for the West Virginia Forestry Association. His company has participated in the Loggers Safety Initiative program and some of his crew members have participated in the Game of Logging program.

David’s painted yellow trucks and trailers being loaded by the Tigercat 234 loader.

David’s painted yellow trucks and trailers being loaded by the Tigercat 234 loader.

Anyone that has had the pleasure of meeting David can attest to his dry sense of humour. David sings in the church choir and does an occasional solo. He figures that with singing the blues on the job all day, he should be pretty good at it. David says that he is always puzzled when friends ask about his retirement. “I can’t retire,” he says with a smirk, “I owe way too much money.”

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