Working in the Woods: Iowa Contractor Puts His Own Spin on the Family Tradition

Fecon Bull Hog BH74SS

Chad Kemper remembers cutting wood at his grandparent’s farm for heat during the winter. Later he and his father used their skid steer loader to help neighbors with some land improvement projects. So, it’s not a big surprise that after his father passed away and he found himself with some spare time and a desire to use it productively that Kemper returned to the woods. Today he’s still cutting down trees and brush, but now it’s for his company, Kemper Brush and Skidder, taking up the family mantle of helping people along the Iowa and Illinois border with their land improvement needs.

Kemper has seen firsthand how properties in the area are handed down or bought from auction without being cleared. The resulting land becomes overgrown, rife with invasive species and unusable. That’s where Kemper and his 2018 T770 Bobcat track loader and forestry mulching attachment come in.
“They owned another 2 or 3 acres behind them, but it was just impassable back there … We made their yard bigger and gave their kids a place to run back in the woods,” Kemper said, recalling one such reclamation project.

This particular piece of land was located in a subdivision on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River across from Muscatine, Iowa. The property owners built their house on the accessible land with their lawn going up to the edge of the woods, but they didn’t have a plan for tackling the woods, so those 2 to 3 acres went unused. Then the owner contacted Kemper with his vision for what the land could be, and Kemper got to work.

The Right Tools for the Job

Going up against cedar trees that are up to 5 to 8 in. in diameter, poison ivy, briar patches and more in dense rolling woods, Kemper had his work cut out for him. Thankfully, he did his homework and came prepared.

“I researched everything as well as I could on what to buy and from which brands. Fecon was the name that kept coming up,” Kemper said. So, attached to his 2018 T770 Bobcat track loader (95 hp with 54-gal of aux. flow) is a 2019 Fecon Bull Hog BH74SS forestry mulching attachment.

The Bull Hog’s variable speed motor automatically adjusts to maximize its 2,000-rpm rotor speed and torque to changing material loads. For Kemper, this meant he could seamlessly work his way through trees and underbrush with the same attachment.

2018 T770 95-hp Bobcat track loader with a 2019 Fecon Bull Hog BH74SS forestry mulching attachment

Kemper Brush and Skidder utilizes a 2018 T770 95-hp Bobcat track loader with a 2019 Fecon Bull Hog BH74SS forestry mulching attachment.

“That Bull Hog will chew right through cedar trees, right down to the root. Sometimes it’ll pull the roots right out of the ground a little bit when you get down in there too,” he explained. Kemper’s work gave his client two extra acres of wooded passable area for walking and camping. By partnering with a friend, Kemper also sprayed a chemical cocktail to kill the weeds and poison ivy along the edge of his work to prevent them from creeping back in.

Kemper’s brush cutter is a versatile tool for shredding a wide range of materials. Recently, Kemper switched over to the Viking Sword teeth for a finer cut and a more aesthetic end-product for a project cleaning up the out-of-bounds areas around the Geneva Country Club. This storied course near Muscatine, Iowa, has one section that is over 60 years old and another that is closer to 100 years old. The out-of-bounds rough was exactly that — rough. At least until Kemper arrived with his Viking Sword-equipped Bull Hog. Now the formerly impassable out-of-bounds looks more park-like, so duffers can more easily traverse the area in search of errant shots.

On another project in Agency, Iowa, Kemper was up against cedar, briar and mulberry trees, which are notoriously hard to kill. His client originally owned a 70-acre hunting property and then purchased another 160 acres that came up for sale next to them. In the middle of their additional acreage sat a row crop field that grew in so tight that larger equipment couldn’t navigate the terrain. So, it became overgrown, and the only time deer could be seen were through mounted cameras. With trees ranging from 2 to 6 in. thick, Kemper systematically worked his way through the 8-acre patch over the course of 20 hours.

“What I’ll do with the trees is I’ll go in at the bottom and chew at the bottom to knock them down. Then I’ll come back in from the other side and chew up whatever I can with the head. Then I’ll leave that thicker part down there because it’ll take me all day to sit around and chew that stuff up,” Kemper said.

By the end of his two days onsite, Kemper cleared enough paths for the space to be used as hunting ground. After the job was over, he received photos from his clients showing the once lost deer congregating in the clearing Kemper had cleared. In between jobs Kemper is fastidious about his maintenance routine for his Bull Hog. Every time he comes home, Kemper sprays his track loader and Bull Hog down with a 75-gal auxiliary tank in his truck to remove the lingering tree sap and other foreign objects from his equipment. Additionally, every 200 to 250 hours of run time, he goes through a full oil change and cleans the hydraulic lines. This combined with frequent checks on his Bobcat track ensures that whenever Kemper gets a call his gear is ready to roll.

How It Works

Fecon offers a full line of hydraulic Bull Hog mulchers for high-flow track loaders and skid steers that are ideal for clearing brush, trees and stumps down to ground level. These can quickly mulch standing trees 4 to 6 in. in diameter and intermittently process 6- to 8-in. trees. Bull Hog mulchers range from 75 to 120 hp to meet the needs of any machine and application. Available in working widths of 50, 61 and 72 in., these attachments and their two rotor systems are versatile enough to be configured for regional or specific jobsite conditions. Industry leading severe-duty body construction also make Bull Hog forestry mulchers durable for any job, with heavy steel materials and a quality welding process.

The Bull Hog’s variable speed motor automatically adjusts to maximize rotor speed depending on the material load. For example, in lighter material loads, higher rpm means more bites per second and finer material sizing, but with heavier material the Bull Hog delivers more rotor torque to keep turning while other equipment may stall. For Kemper, his work is more than a job, it’s honoring his father’s legacy by continuing to help his community get the most out of their land. Having the right equipment enables him to contour client yards to meet their dreams.

Mike Kucharski is the VP of dealer development for Fecon.