Girl Powered Melissa McCaw Risky Business Logging Estacada, Oregon

You don’t see too many ladies in the woods hauling logs. But don’t tell Melissa McCaw she’d be better off doing something else where she’s not going to get dirty or risk breaking a nail.

“I don’t like guys telling me I can’t do something just because I’m a chick. The only difference between me and a guy is the anatomy. I can take care of myself,” says Melissa, who drives a 1995 Kenworth W900L for Risky Business Logging.

Melissa has been with Risky Business since just this past spring, but has been hauling logs for four years. When she first started, she was in a position where she felt that she had to prove she could do the job as well as any guy. Not only can Melissa talk the talk, she can walk the walk. She’s no Barbie, that’s for sure. She’s not going to be late for work because she was taking extra time to put on her makeup because she rarely wears any while she’s working. And she doesn’t have to worry about picking out an outfit; she goes to work in Carhartts and an old T-shirt.

“If you ever see me after work, I’m nasty filthy,” she says.

Unhappy with the extra-work-for-no-pay approach of her previous employer, not to mention being saddled with poor equipment, Melissa was actively looking to switch jobs when she saw a Craigslist posting by Risky Business Logging needing a log truck driver. She called up and the job was hers.

As Risky Business is headquartered in Stayton, and Melissa lives 50 miles north in Estacada, she is pretty much on her own when it comes to finding work. The majority of the time, she has steady hauls for Wayne Stone Logging and Jon Greenup Logging.

Now 30 years old, Melissa got her commercial drivers license when she was 25. A friend of hers was a logger and he showed her around and helped her get her start in the business. “He did a lot of pole jobs and he’d need help getting equipment, flagging and he’d also let me drive his old trucks,” she says. “We’d haul log length fire wood in the back of this old dump truck making deliveries to customer’s homes.”

Melissa was already accustomed to hard work. She’d previously worked doing demolition. “It was flat out physical work with a sledgehammer and crowbar,” she says.

When it came time to haul her first real load of logs, she was ready to go. “When I pulled away from the shovel I was so excited,” she recalls. “Maybe I should have been scared, but whatever . . . “

Melissa has the common sense to take it easy and just do the job to the best of her ability. One of her mantras is to trust her gut feeling whether it’s about driving a new truck or chaining up to haul safely in the snow.

She also knows how that the best way to get through the day is never to take the job too seriously. “When I hear guys complaining, I’ll get on the radio and tell them, ‘There ain’t no cryin’ in logging!’ I have a really good time; I do the same dang thing they do, but you won’t see me out here crying about it.

“The only way you’re going to get me out of the woods is if there’s no more trees to haul.”