BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Connor Morse was six years old when he decided he wanted to be a woodsman. He got involved at the 4-H level and is currently the captain of the Dal AC Men’s A team, which will be trying to finish first at the Rick Russell Woodsmen Competition on Feb. 10.
The team placed first overall in the Rick Russell competition and earned first place in the Canadian Intercollegiate Lumberjacking Association (CILA) standings the last two years.
“We’ve been working hard in practice and hope to pull it off again this year,” said Morse. “It’s nice to win in front of a hometown crowd.”
Morse, who grew up in Kingston, had joining the woodsmen in mind when he applied to attend Dal AC. He tried out his first year and made it, and is now a four-year member of the team, and serving his second year as captain. Last summer he also competed in the pro league Maritime Lumberjack Association.
“One of the things I like about this sport is that you get to try different things,” he said. “I also like having both the team aspect and some events you do by yourself. I like to try to beat my own personal best.”
Team events include swede sawing, crosscut sawing, log decking and pulp throw. Doubles events include vertical chop, underhand chop and quarter split. Singles events include pole climb, chain saw, water boil, single buck, super swede and axe throw.
Dal AC has two men’s and two women’s teams, and the local event will see them compete against teams from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and Maine.
The competition is named in honour of Rick Russell, who coached the woodsmen for 24 years, but died in 2004 after a battle with cancer.
“People often mention him when I’m out trying to get sponsors for the competition,” said Morse. “A lot of people were coached by him, and hearing about the dedication and effort he put into the team is awesome.”
Morse hopes members of the public will come out and support the Dal AC teams.
“Having supporters there is huge; it’s like being in the home rink for hockey. A crowd cheering you on helps get team spirit up. It’s a great show, all day long. A lot of people who attend tell me they found it more exciting than they expected.”
This is Morse’s last year at Dal AC, but he’s expected to return as alumni to judge and volunteer at the event in the future.
Rick Russell Woodsmen Competition
Date: Feb. 10
Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: MacMillan Show Centre, NSPE grounds in Bible Hill
Dress: Wear warm clothing. The event is inside but the building isn’t heated.
Seating: There is lots of seating in the stands, but bring a blanket or cushion if you want something warmer than wood.