News Short Logging Fills Need in Southwest Alabama

Short Logging Fills Need in Southwest Alabama

Short Logging Fills Need in Southwest Alabama
July 2, 2024 |

By Marlee Jackson

John Deese was hauling a load of logs north on Highway 43 when his phone rang. 

“I had seen this truck next to me speeding up and slowing down,” Deese remembered. “Next thing I knew, that guy was calling and asked if I wanted to cut his tract in Jackson.”

That’s because Deese’s truck is a calling card of sorts. Simple black lettering on a white door advertises his bread and butter — John Deese Short Logging — and phone number. Thirty-foot logs stacked on a tri-axle truck and straight trailer reinforce the point.

Deese specializes in cutting small tracts of timber, generally single-digit acres, in his native Washington County and neighboring Clarke County. His small-scale approach is unusual, even in heavily forested southwest Alabama, said Jamestican Parham.

Parham is a landowner in Clarke and Wilcox counties. He’s also the driver who rang Deese that day on Highway 43. Since that call, Parham’s property has benefited from Deese’s niche technique.

As the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association president, Parham said he’s talked to countless landowners who need small tracts cut.

“A problem we have faced in the South is we don’t have small loggers like John to come in and do specialty logging,” Parham said. “He comes in and clears an area, and he makes it look good. It lessens the site prep, and it makes it more attractive to the landowner. He’s able to move from place to place helping people.”

Logging is expensive, Deese said. Moving higher volumes of timber has traditionally helped manage steep equipment, fuel and labor costs.

Deese’s approach is different.

He and his right-hand man, Johnny Allen, work in tandem in the woods. Allen has logged since 1990 and helps Deese fulfill his daily two-load goal.

“I started logging using a chainsaw and a farm tractor,” said Deese, who was raised in Yellow Pine near the Alabama-Mississippi line and started his short logging business in 2016. “I grew to having a bell cutter and a small loader and have slowly bought one piece at a time. It’s a tough row to hoe being small, but it’s also got its benefits of not so much worrying.”

Skills fine-tuned in previous jobs help Deese customize and repair equipment. (He was an offshore oil rig welder and mechanic for nearly two decades.) He’s got an eye for big-impact detail work, too, thanks to a stint traveling the country teaching chainsaw safety and felling techniques. 

While Deese will thin tracts of timber, he prefers to clear-cut an area. After felling the trees, Deese said it’s a balancing act to evenly distribute weight over the truck’s three axles, which are grouped together near the rear of the rig.

Since his machinery is small, Deese can maneuver in tight areas, like home sites, and leave limited ruts.

It’s hard but rewarding work to help members of his community, Deese said.

“You got to enjoy what you do or it won’t work,” he said. 

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