Age / Condition of Oak Tree

Hi;
I have an oak tree in my back yard that is about 100 feet or more tall. Its circumference is 12 feet (measured three feet off of the ground). I am curious of the age and the health of the tree (I have seen them rot from the inside out.). I am thinking about boring a 1 inch hole about 12 inches into the tree, but I dont want to cause the tree any harm if it is otherwise healthy. How can I determine the overall health of the tree. I thought about calling someone out but I have no idea who to call. I also think that who ever I call would have a vested interest in having it cut down so they can make money off of me. Any idea how to tell the age and health of the tree?
Thanks Pat
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You can't be serious about boring a hole in what appears to be a perfectly fine tree. Do that, and soon there won't be any doubt that the tree is kaput. If you want an opinion, I'd call an arborist. A second choice would be a good tree service.
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komobu wrote:

A qualified arborist can safely core the tree and determine the age and assess the structure of the trunk. The coring operation is not the same as simply drilling a hole in the trunk and must be carried out correctly to avoid damage. Arborists are not the same as tree-fellers and every one that I've known has had preserving trees whenever possible has their highest priority.
Trees can actually survive for a very long time and be stable with a hollow core since the core provides almost no strength. The size of the trunk is not a very reliable predictor of the age of the tree. Some grow fast, some grow slow. I've seen a white oak that measured over six feet at the butt end and actually counted the rings on it showing it to be something over 200 years old (we were drinking beer at the time but with several of us counting that is pretty close). With a diameter approaching 4 feet my guess is that yours could be anything from 100 to 200 years old depending on the species and the local growing conditions.
As for someone "having it cut down so they can make money off of me" you don't have any obligation to listen to any single source. In fact with a tree of that size I'd be inclined to get multiple estimates if it does need to be dropped and I'd demand good proof if someone says that this is the only course of action possible. It is unlikely that a qualified arborist will be pushing to a takedown if it is not called for.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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Huge old trees like that are almost always rotten in the center and have little value as lumber. I know because I have remove many. If you are hoping to profit from this tree then you will likely be looking at firewood.
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Call an arborist. If you live in the USA locate your cooperative extension and they can help you. The closest university or library can help. Drilling holes into trees can cause a variety of diseases.
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Look at it. If it looks healthy, it probably is.

What difference would age make? It has reached its present age and size without your "help" and will probably outlive you, if you can refrain from drilling a huge hole in it to satisfy your momentary curiosity. -----
- gpsman
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