I am relatively new to this hobby but have made some great tasting pork in a cheap little smoker I have using lump hardwood charcoal and Jack Daniels wood chips. I'm currently looking into a really nice smoker and trying to learn more about fuels.
First of all, I have a rookie question: when someone says a "wood" smoker, does that mean they are using only real wood? Does lump hardwood charcoal count as "wood" or "charcoal?" Do some people using only real wood (ie-no sort of charcoal whatsoever) in their smokers? I assume you can probably burn down chunks of real wood to make charcoal and it may be the best fuel, although I've never done this or seen it done.
Secondly, is there any consensus on what is the "best" fuel? I am sure everyone has their opinion but I was wondering what the professional competition guys use to smoke pork. If you go to a competition, do you find some guys using charcoal, some using charcoal with wood chips, and some using only wood for smoking? Or, is there something that is generally considered the "best" for serious pork smoking?
Lastly, I want to make my own wood chunks/chips to add to the smoker. I have access to just about every tree you could want. How do you prepare wood for use in a smoker? I assume you don't want green wood so after you cut a tree you want to dry it out. How long do you dry it? After that, is it as simple as cutting or chipping the wood and using it?