Josh Stevens, who operates a forestry management business in Fulton, has earned bragging rights as the state's top professional logger.
It was an honor he wasn't expecting. He was competing with professional loggers, mostly from the Ozarks.
The skill providing the most points in the competition was the Precision Tree Felling event.
"In my case, it was mostly luck," Stevens said. "I had no intentions of winning the event. In the other events, I was running only in the middle of the pack at best. I honestly figured I would finish in last place. I was just having a good time. But in the Precision Tree Felling event, I got lucky. When my friend and I arrived, we learned the chainsaws we had were not the correct size for the competition. We borrowed saws we have never run before. They were much bigger than the ones we were accustomed to using. We didn't have the correct gauge of equipment so we had to hand-file the chains to sharpen them. I had zero expectation of winning, but luck was with me."
Stevens operates Stevens Sustainable Forestry, a forestry management service in Fulton. He offers forestry thinning, forestry surveys and timber sales.
"Basically, I help farmers evaluate what they have and how to manage forests, how to make them better for wildlife, or how to approach timber sales if they are interested," Stevens said.
About 10 years ago, Stevens received a degree in forestry management from the University of Missouri. He recently completed a master's degree in forestry and soils management from the university.
This year, Stevens decided to compete for the first time in the 2013 Game of Logging Competition at Viburnum.
The Missouri Forest Products Association sponsors the professional training to advance the knowledge, skills and opportunities of Missouri loggers. Top loggers from around the state demonstrated their skills at various events such as Speed Cut, Bore Cut, Spring Pole, Bucking Cut and Precision Tree Felling.
Stevens said a bore cut takes more time but it allows a logger to control the precise direction the tree will fall, making it much safer than the traditional method of notching a tree and then starting the cut from the back side.
"With a bore cut, a back strap or a piece of wood is left in the back to hold the tree up. When the rest of the cut is complete, the two inches of backstrap is cut and the tree falls at that moment, making it much safer for the cutter and the people around him," Stevens said.
The Spring Pole competition involves smaller trees that have been bent when larger trees fall over them.
"Those spring pole trees have a lot of pressure built into them, making them very dangerous to work around. Loggers have to work around such trees all the time, and that was made part of the competition to learn where to cut such a tree to minimize the danger involved. The trick is to remove or minimize the energy in that tree by cutting it in the correct place. If someone tried to cut a spring pole tree at the stump area, they can be injured or killed," Stevens said.
The Bucking Cut event involved placing a piece of plywood below a log and concealing part of the log in sawdust on the ground.
"The basic test is to determine if we could cut through the log without cutting any of the plywood," Stevens said.
Stevens took home the $1,000 top prize money and a new chainsaw.
During the Precision Tree Felling event, Stevens hit the target in the center. He won the competition because that event had the most points awarded.
Professional Trained Harvester (PTH) loggers competed at the In Woods Logging Demo at Viburnum.
For the third consecutive year, Jason Jenson of Jefferson City took first place in the landowner division, earning $500 in prize money.
Jenson also placed first in the Big Stump event as well.
Stevens and Jenson will now advance to the national finals in logging competition.
To qualify for the competition, loggers must have completed the Professional Timber Harvester training prior to the event.
"Most of them were professional loggers from the Ozarks," Stevens said. Certification in the Professional Timber Harvester program requires successful completion of five classes. To maintain certification, professional loggers must complete annual continuing education. The training is offered to professional loggers, foresters, college students, forest landowners and utility workers.
This year the training was offered at seven locations in Missouri. The first one was in Callaway County at Williamsburg during February.