Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tall timber n.

also tall pines, tall timbers

1. (US, also timber) the rural areas, the backwoods, lit. and fig.

implied in take to the tall timber(s)
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ John Henry 20: Me! — off to the woods! Me! — to the tall timber till she wakes up!
[US]‘Sleepy’ Burke Prison Gates Ajar 9: I went to the ‘timber’ (country) and ‘floated’ to Chicago.
[US](con. 1875) Jocknick Early Days on the Western Slope of Colorado 91: It was miles to tall timber.
[UK]‘Leslie Charteris’ Enter the Saint 125: While he takes possession, disinters the loot, and slithers off in the general direction of the tall timber.

2. (US) the gallows.

[US]J. Tully Jarnegan (1928) 223: If she bumps off in my house it’s me for the tall timber without an axe.

In phrases

take to the tall timber(s) (v.) (also beat it for the tall timber(s), break for tall timber, hit for the tall pines, … the tall timber, make for the tall timber, put for..., pull for..., strike (out) for tall timber, take for the tall timbers, take to the timber, tear to the tall timbers)

to run off.

Atkinson’s Casket (PA) Aug. 371/1: Wait till Whiteside comes up with his battalion of spies, and the way that you’ll see them break for tall timber is a sin to Moses.
[US]J.S. Robb Streaks of Squatter Life 36: The editor of the Eagle was well aware, that after this outbreak he must ‘break for tall timber’.
[US]Knickerbocker (N.Y.) XXVIII 311: I calculate [...] that he’ll put for tall timber one of these days and our folks’ll find they've been barking up the wrong tree.
T. Ford Hist. Illinois 121: Upon hearing this, I followed the example of my companions in arms, and broke for tall timber, and the way I run was not a little.
[US]Columbia Phoenix (SC) 20 Apr. 4/2: I’m jest breaking for tall timber. Good-by Lucy — I’m bound to quit, got to go.
[US]Ford County Globe 10 Dec. in Miller & Snell Why the West was Wild 367: They immediately ‘struck out for tall timber.’.
[US]C.A. Siringo Texas Cow Boy (1950) 133: Jim Greathouse [...] gave his guards the slip and pulled for ‘tall timber’ up in the mountains.
[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 35: I took to the tall timbers.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ John Henry 29: I’m hoping the conductor will come in and give us a tip to take to the timber because the cops are going to pinch the room.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 223: Don’t you try to sick any girls on me, or I’ll take to the tall timber.
[US]F.H. Tillotson How I Became a Detective 89: In making a quick getaway the ‘grafter’ will tell you he ‘tore to the tall timbers.’.
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 571: break for tall timber, phr. To run away.
[US]D.W. Roberts Rangers and Sovereignty 128: The ‘bad men’ [...] began to strike for ‘tall timber’ [DA].
[US]A. Stringer Door of Dread 114: After bein’ pounded round by a couple o’ crooks yuh made for the tall timber without a sign of a come-back!
[UK]Wipers Times 20 Mar. (2006) 42/1: Buzzing Bill [...] shouts in stentorian terms ‘beat it for the tall timbers.’.
[UK]B.E.F. Times 15 Aug. (2006) 208/1: [It] tickled the Bosche to taking for the tall timbers off Pilkem Ridge.
[US]‘Max Brand’ Seventh Man 176: He’ll hit for the tall pines.
[UK]P. Marks Plastic Age 102: [He] beats it for the tall timber.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: take to the tall timber. To abscond.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 20 Aug. 11/2: Eventually the model ‘S.M. Herald’ leader will read like this [...] Some one will go ’im scone ’ot and then it’ll be ’im for the tall timber.
[US]R.F. Adams Cowboy Lingo 221: A person ‘takin’ to the tall timbers’ was ‘pullin’ his freight for the tules.’.
[US]O. Strange Sudden Takes the Trail 127: Jim’s a good scout, but if he was after my ha’r, I’d take to the tall timber.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Ridge and River (1966) 190: What the hell would you do if a mob of Japanese attacked now? Hit for the tall timber in your skirt?