A Few Tips on Cutting Down Your Own Christmas Tree
By OutdoorAly

Posted: December 13, 2013

Growing up in Montana I remember the first week of December being dedicated to heading out into the woods and selecting our own Christmas tree, cutting it down, and taking it home. Looking back I really didn’t appreciate all the effort my parents put into creating “quality family time”, but now I truly know how blessed we are to live in a state where we have enough open space and forested land that we can enjoy this tradition. The “quality family time” may have included minor frostbite, sap stains, and misjudgment of the height of our living room, so I put together some of the things I learned over the years to make your tree harvest easier:

  • Permit- To harvest trees on Forest Service or BLM land a $5 permit is required and can be purchased at any Forest Service office. Call 406-449-5201 for more information.
  • Gloves – this seems like a no brainer since its cold out, but thick work gloves are more useful than the skiing variety.
  • Measure your living room– nothing worse than not being able to top your tree with the angel because of poor planning.
  • Measure door – even worse is not being able to fit the thing into your house!
  • Rope – nylon paracord is always a good bet. Tie the branches down, and use it to tie to the roof of your vehicle.
  • A Good Saw -trusty bow saw should do the trick!
  • Hot Chocolate – this is the best cure for any whiners. It always shut me up for at least five minutes.
  • Camera– a camera phone will work fine, just a little something to prove your success, and document “quality family time”
  • Good Boots– mine are a classic pair of Sorels, but anything built for hiking in snow.

Be sure to check regulations, some public lands have restrictions, such as the Helena National Forest:

  • Do not cut trees in active timber sale units, developed campgrounds and other sites, wilderness areas or within 100 feet of main roads, creeks or streams;
  • Please do not leave any live branches on the stump and trim the stump to no more than six inches above the soil;
  •  Please select a tree shorter than 12 feet tall and do not cut off the tops of trees;
  •  Remember to securely attach the permit to your tree.

For more information, call 449-5201 or visit www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena.

Good luck and happy hunting!