If you ride much in the woods, sooner or later you’re going to end up with a fallen log blocking the trail. At that point, it’s either turn around and go back the way you came, or drag the log off to the side. That’s where a winch comes in handy.
An ATV or recovery winch is good for more than just getting you out when you’re stuck. You can also put it to work moving logs, firewood, and other heavy objects. The key is to rig it up properly so that your winch cable doesn’t get damaged in the process.
In order to rig up for the pull, you’ll need a few winch accessories, including a tree strap or chain and a shackle. Never wrap the winch cable around the log and hook it back on itself. That’s a sure way to ruin the cable. Instead, wrap a tree strap or chain (only use chain for deadwood—never for live trees!) around the log and connect the strap to the winch hook on the cable by using a shackle. You may need to dig underneath the log a bit to get the strap around the trunk.
You can change the angle of the pull by rigging up a pulley block and tree strap to a good, solid tree nearby that gives you the angle you need. Instead of dragging the log straight towards your vehicle, you can drag it at an angle off to the side of the trail.
If the fallen log is a long timber wedged between two trees, it may be impossible to move the log without cutting it. In addition, you’ll want to take into consideration the environmental impact (i.e. you don’t want to kill 20 saplings just to move a dead log) and the federal, state, or local rules that may apply to the trail you are riding. Take time to assess the situation before rigging up your winch. Safety is always your first priority.