Logger Talk

Buck To saw a felled tree into short lengths.
Bull buck Supervisor of a felling and bucking crew.
Caulks Pronounced corks. Short spikes in the heel and toe of boots designed to give secure footing while walking on logs.
Choker Chain or wire rope (cable) looped around one or more logs while moving them.
Choker setter Person who places chokers on logs. Usually considered the hardest working and lowest paid job.
Cold deck Pile of logs left for later transportation.
Cruiser Person who conducts surveys of timberland.
Crummy Vehicle used to transport loggers in and out of the forest.
Donkey Machine used to haul logs, load logs at a landing, move equipment etc. Could be powered by steam, gas, diesel, or electrical power plants.
Gyppo Independent logger who runs a small-scale operation.
Haywire operation Contemptuous term for logging operation that has poor equipment.
High ball A fast moving operation.
Jack Early 1900’s term for a logger.
Lumberjack One who works in the forest. Also known as a logger.
Show A logging operation.


  1. Dale M. Edwards Says: October 12, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    recalled by Dale M. Edwards
    former Logger

    HOOKER: 2 men on the ‘landing’ who set the bell hooks on each end of the log to be hoisted onto the logging truck.

    LANDING: an enlarged area in the woods where the trucks are loaded with logs to be moved to the mill.

    TOP-LOADER: the person who organizes and directs the loading the the logs, he directs the HOOKERS, and the sequential placement of the logs onto the truck. All done with a series of unique hand signals.

    SIDE ROD: Is a supervisorary position above the BULL BUCK and below the SUPERINTENDENT. Many logging operations would have multiple SIDES operating, therefore there would be more than one SIDE ROD. Today’s middle-management.

    10 DAY JOHNNY: a transient logger who travelled from one logging operation to another. Usually collected his first paycheck and moved on.

    CAT-SKINNER: a caterpillar operator who drags the logs from where they are felled to the LANDING for shipment to the mill.

  2. I am wondering where the term ‘Bull Buck’ comes from.
    I have searched all over the internet and can hardly find anything on it .
    please let me know if you find anything, thanks

  3. Well, Andrew, I can tell you what I think. The term “Bull” was applied to the boss of any given level of operation. For example, the “Bull of the Woods” was the boss of the whole operation out in the woods.

    So, the Bull Buck was the boss of the guys who were falling and bucking up the trees.


  4. Paul Hohman Says: November 6, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Knot Bumper: Man that removed stray/hanging limbs and knots from the logs at the landing before they were loaded on the trucks or train. Made for more stable loads.

  5. Stacey L Carbine-Hill Says: October 1, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    I would like to add to Paul’s description of a Knot Bumper. On some jobs the knot bumper would un-hook the chokers that were used to drag the logs into the landing behind the cat, with or without an arch, help the log truck drivers line up the trailer hitch, keeping the landing clear of stray limbs and debris. Depending on the job, using a heavy hammer with a brand to mark the ends of the logs which indicated to the mill workers what site the log came from. And I want to make one correction. Knot Bumpers can be either male or female! I worked all over El Dorado County in the early 80’s as a Knot Bumper for the best logger in California. His name was Mike Carbine, and he was my father. He had three kids, all girls. I was the youngest and was always his tomboy. At the time we had not heard of another woman Knot Bumper. It is such a physically demanding job, but worth every moment.

  6. I like your post, Stacey. Thanks for the comment. Dave Turnboo’s kids say that he is/was the best logger in the country. Is there something special about girls and their dads?
    I know the answer to that question already. My daughter probably thinks I’m the best web master there is, which I am not.


  7. Roy From Placerville Says: March 14, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Hi Stacey

    It has been a long time since you posted your note.

    Thank You for that first hand definition of a Knot Bumper.

    All I knew about your dad is that he got his first truck about 1943 or 44. He logged until he couldn’t anymore in 2006. I have always wondered how did he manage to get a truck during the War? Who did he get his start with. I guess that he ran his own company most of his life? Can You tell me where he hauled to,

    There is the story about the lady truck driver who being an experienced logger from Oregon somewhere, her first job here in Placerville was driving a sorry tired dump truck. This general engineering contractor was building a road. After her first day on the job she stopped in to see the mechanic to complain about the steering being real real hard. The mechanic laughed at her and said “look lady if you can’t take it we will get someone who can.”
    so my friend Karen drove that thing for a month or so. Later the senior man with the company had a to get his truck in for repairs. You know what rolls down hill, Karen was out of work until the other truck got repaired. The other driver who got stuck in Karen’s sorry machine could hardly get the truck across the lot. So He pulls in to see the Mechanic. He told the top wrench “It takes three men and a boy to turn the wheel on that thing”. The mechanic replied “hell that new lady has been driving this ol’ beast by herself and I wouldn’t mess with her if I were you.”

    Last I saw karen many years later, She was driving A like new Interstate Batteries, 18 Wheeler long-haul.

    Had your dad ever told you the legendary way that Harvey West would save time while in his log truck. This happened while he was logging somewhere near Santa Cruz. Maybe some things are best left unsaid. I wouldn’t want the West family mad at me. My Source was a Long time mill worker (or Grader) at Smith Flat.

    I keep a list of El Dorado County Lumber Mill Workers, Loggers, Shake makers and such. on this list Women are far less than one percent. You are the only logger out in the woods that I ever heard of.

    Roy Van Sant

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