Building Tip - Harvesting Bark
by John Lindman

Now is the time to harvest bark in most places. I just got a report it is popping in Minnesota. Here are a few tips that might make things a bit easier.

1. Scout your area. Locate the trees that look good. Don't waste trees by testing ones that obviously don't look good. Only test good trees - no dead limbs on top indicating disease; straight; no limbs in the desired area; etc.
2. Test above the snow line. Don't test down super low where the bark is scarred from the snow. It will most likely test bad. Don't girdle unless you plan to take the bark. Get a big enough piece to do your test and that is all.
3. Get permission. If you have a good area then get a permit.
4. Things to make harvest easier -
a. If you plan to take the tree down you will need a saw or axe of course and if you plan on climbing the tree bring a ladder or tree climbers (steps that bow hunters use to climb to their tree stand) or bring materials needed to make a ladder in the bush.
b. Big sharp pointed knife.
c. Utility knife.
d. Duct tape. (Of course duct tape. Because you can use it for everything. Like when you cut yourself or when you fall out of the tree and break your leg and need to tape up a splint, or as rope by folding it in half sticky side to sticky side and using it to tie your bark rolls together)
e. A stick that is straight and the length of the bark you will be harvesting (like a piece of lath).
f. 3 ro 4 spring clamps.
g. Safety belt to hold you while removing bark.

5. Once you have your trees marked -I would either use flagging tape or stick the sample piece that I took back into the tree between the bark and the cambium (inner bark) so that it sticks out like a flag - start harvesting:
a. If you plan to take the tree down plan your fall not only as to how it will fall clear, but also where you want to make your vertical cut. For example there may be a bird or small branch so make your cut in that area.
b. Prior to cutting you need to create a "cradle" near the tree that will support the trunk off the ground to allow for the removal of the bark. (I did this one time in New Hampshire and the tree "hopped" and went right over the cradle. It was raining and I had to dig under the tree - the entire length of the bark I was removing - in order to pull it free.) c.If you plan to take pieces use your tree climbers and safety belt. If you have all your tools in a pouch or held in some other fashion you will be able to use them with ease.
d. Make your horizontal cut at the base. Then make your horizontal cut at the top. Then make your vertical cut and you come down the tree. Make it deep enought so that it doesn't hang up anywhere. When the bark is "popping" if the cut doesn't go all the way through somewhere, the rest of it can pull away from the tree fast and cause a tear. When making your horizontal cuts it's best to just girdle the tree in those places with a 3 inch or so piece. Now it won't get hung up there either.
e. a. If a crack along the grain starts to develop, use the tip of your utility knife to make a perpendicular cut just beyond the crack so that when there is stress on the crack it will only open up as far as you cut and will be stopped at that point.
b. After you have pryed the bark away from the tree a few inches, clamp your stick to the edge. This will prevent the bark from cracking or tearing during the process of removal.
c. Always roll your bark as if from the bottom (widest part) of the tree upwards. This will minimize edge curl. Press any small birds out prior to rolling.
d. Stash the bark that is harvested in the bushes so as to keep it out of the sunlight.

This is not a complete lesson on how to harvest bark. That has been covered earlier in previous newsletters.

These are just a few tips on points that might make the process easier. Good luck and happy hunting.

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