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Time to Start Ruffling Feathers

The Joys of Ruffed Grouse Hunting

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Bullet proudly presents the bounty from our last hunt.

One of the joys of the fall season in the Great North Woods is hunting for grouse. These wily birds of the Galliforme Order inhabit the hills and forests of Northern Beartaria: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, parts of North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Washington state, as well as Alaska. All are replete with grouse, but do they taste good? Well, chickens are also from the order as grouse. As you can therefore imagine, they are quite tasty if properly prepared. Grouse have a wonderful flavor that will soon have your taste buds craving them each autumn.

The type of grouse that is most popular in much of Beartaria is the Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa Umbellus. Another tasty grouse is the Spruce Grouse, or Canada Grouse, Falcipennis Canadensis, which has a stronger, bawdier flavor that repels overly urbanized men. Such men, however, are better off going to the supermarket to purchase hormone-infused factory-farm-raised chicken, which will add to their feminine charms and their fat-to-body-weight ratio.

Both species of grouse live in the woods, although they prefer different types of habitat. Ruffed grouse prefer recently logged areas with young poplar trees, as they love to dine on the buds. Spruce grouse are denizens of coniferous forests, as their name suggests.

Grouse-hunting is a sport that doesn’t require much in the way of gear. In order to enjoy a good grouse hunt, you just put on your boots and perambulate with your gun down wooded country trails. The boots should preferably be vintage Red Wing Irish Setters made in the USA by hand before the year 1985, but any good hiking boot should suffice. A nice hunting jacket with built-in pouches to hold your game is a plus, but any old jacket will do. Just carry a backpack or shoulder-bag for your birds. Finally, a woolen hunting cap that is blaze orange for safety completes your hunting accoutrement. Check your local laws, as you may be required to wear blaze orange. Since grouse-hunting season can overlap deer hunting, it’s a good idea to avoid being mistaken for a deer.

Where to hunt?

It’s best to ask a local old-timer for the best areas for grouse hunting. Grouse go through multi-year cycles, and some years there will be large numbers of grouse. Other years, they can be hard to find. If you can’t find a local old-timer to interrogate (perhaps offer to take him out for coffee), just get a map of your county and find some old logging roads. Drive down a gravel road until you find a likely spot, or a side road that branches off from the main road. Park your car, get out, and load your shotgun. Amble down the road, enjoy the walk, and tune your senses to detect grouse that are standing on the road, or are sitting on the ground near the road. Here is what a ruffed grouse looks like:

Grouse have a big advantage over the hunter: their plumage has colors and patterns that enable them to blend into the foliage and leaf litter of the forest floors. If it snows, however, they can be easier to spot.

If you spot a grouse on the path ahead, you will have to make a few calculations and intuitive judgments on the spot. How close can you get to the grouse before it flushes and flies away? What is the maximum range of the shotgun and the type of load in your shotgun shells? Are you a competent enough shot to shoot a bird on the fly? One thing to note about grouse behavior: when flushed, they often settle back down just ten or twenty yards deeper into the woods. You can then make another attempt by stalking them stealthily, creeping towards the spot where you intuit they landed.

I personally use a 20 gauge with a modified choke, although a .410 would also be great for grouse. Twelve gauge shotguns are, in my opinion, just too much firepower. They are likely to maul the bird so badly that it will be unappetizing. As far as shot size, I would recommend #7 or #8. The higher the number, the smaller (and more numerous) the pellets. You will do less damage to the birds with the smaller shot sizes, and there are more pellets per load.

Try to get within at least thirty yards of the bird before taking a shot. Any further, and the pellets may just be too diffuse or lacking in power to kill the bird. You never want to wound a bird, and have it suffer or die unfound. If you do wound a bird, the best way to dispatch it quickly is by breaking its neck. This sounds a bit violent, but it is the quickest and most painless method.

Hunting Philosophy

I’ll end this article with a bit of hunting philosophy. It does not matter how many grouse you kill on your hunt. Form and technique are more important than numbers, and safety transcends all other concerns. Do not shoot the ear off your hunting party because you wildly shot at a bird (i.e. don’t pull a Dick Cheney).

Practice shooting clay pigeons in order to gain the skill necessary to shoot birds on the fly. Shoot cans or paper targets to gain accuracy with ground targets.

Hunting is a good excuse to hike and explore the territory in your neck of the woods. You’ll have fun no matter how many birds you get, as you explore old roads and trails. You may even encounter Bigfoot. I know someone who did.

Written By: Finnish Bear

https://www.instagram.com/finnish_bear_usa/



Lifestyle

Homesteading… Life in the Fast Lane

The Lessons Learned Through Failure and Loss…

Purely Living Papa Bear

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The Lessons Learned Through Failure and Loss…

A winter storm was rolling in, and that puts any homestead into high gear getting ready for the snow and freezing. The high anxiety and pressure gets everyone moving to prep the farm for the coming snow. It’s quickly checking fences, filling and covering feed, adding extra fluff, filling and moving water troughs all at double speed. There was so much to think about and do with storms, but with a team of six helping , we were able to settle down around dusk, just before the storm rolled in. 

A massive three feet of heavy snow fell quickly over the next twenty-four hours. The first night of the storm, our two puppy livestock guardian dogs, named Enoch and Eden, were barking relentlessly. Since we live in a community surrounded by other cabins, we have to be conscious of the non-stop barking that can naturally occur with LGDs. So, we have training crates for them to sleep in until fully trained. When they wouldn’t quit barking at 5 A.M., I turned their crates around so they’d be quiet and stop being stimulated by looking out over the animals. It worked, and I went back to bed. 

An hour later, it was time to get up and feed the animals. I let Enoch and Eden out, and they immediately went crazy barking and running towards the main chicken coop. I wasn’t sure if this was simply an act of adolescence, or was there a predator there needing my attention?

The phone rang pulling me away; a call from my work letting me know that it was a snow day and I wouldn’t be teaching students today. Yeah, extra sleep! Things were looking good. But, the loud barking brought me back to the situation at hand.

I hesitantly stepped out into the storm to take a look. I now had my “fancy pants” on, it was freezing outside, and I could actually sleep in another hour. So, I called the dogs back, locked them in their kennels, and went back inside where it was warm. All was well in the world. I fell back asleep.

My eldest son who is about thirteen took the liberty of checking on the birds for me when he noticed Mom and Dad were still sleeping past the usual time. That was when he ran inside into our room. With tears streaming down his face, barely able to speak, he said he thinks that all the birds froze to death. We couldn’t believe it was that cold, and we ran out to check. Upon further inspection, we found the roof caging had broke making it vulnerable to predators. That’s when, after closely looking at the birds, we knew it was a bobcat that had killed nineteen of our chickens and four of our ducks. 

My daughter, McKinley, devastated by the loss.

When I first looked at the massacre, I must admit, I didn’t handle it very well. Immediately, I knew they were dead because of my mistake. I let out a very loud curse in front of my children and wife, and blasted out the energy and shame I was feeling with emotion. It was not the right thing to do. It’s those moments in life, a family needs the father to be the strength. And, I failed them. 

Homesteading puts your learning on an exponential curve. The extreme highs and lows that come several times a year for most, come almost daily when you homestead. It’s God’s accelerated school for learning Truth. I had to humble myself, pray, and quickly return as the role of father.

We processed twenty-three chickens that day. We had all the equipment, for we planned to process some birds in the future, however God had other plans. The saving grace to the horror and death we all experienced was to not let the meat go to waste. Our meat fridge was low on beef, but after processing the entire day as a family, our meat fridge was full again. Every lesson in suffering and hardship, God can work towards His glory. 

God always provides.

The birds were dead because of me. If a homesteader gets weak, for even one night, they can lose nine months effort in the blink of an eye. In all honesty, I did not handle this test very well but took a great lesson with it. I apologized to my family, took responsibility for mistakes I made, burned my “fancy pants” and grew from the experience. For that was all I could do. The damage was done. 

Tough Lessons Learned

This heavy and terrible experience did not break our spirit though. That week, the fences and roofing were reinforced and repaired. We all stepped up to take better care of all the animals we still had in our care. When the dogs bark, I now head their warning. I get up several times a night now when the dogs bark. It’s tiring, but the alternative is dead animals and a deflated family that feels like there’s no point. Laziness is not an option with this much responsibility. 

Living on a homestead, it does seem that I’ve asked for some accelerated learning. When the people started closing their businesses, I knew this was the “Go Time”. I asked the Lord to allow me to finish strong and to teach me what I needed to know in order to finish the race worthy of Him. He said, “Build your homestead and control your mouth.” I thought that would be such an easy task, especially the mouth part. I actually felt insulted. Boy, was I wrong and massively humbled.  

For all you Bears out there that are already homesteading, you have my utmost honor and respect. If you’ve been doing it for some time successfully, I can guarantee you are a human of high character and quality. I hope to one day reach that level. For those of you with little garden experience or a few chickens or quails, God Bless you! You are pushing yourself and learning serious life lessons daily. If you are still waiting for the right opportunity to begin, that time is now. Life’s lessons speed up when you’re in charge of other’s lives.

When tragedy at the homestead hit. It taught me much more than how to fix fences, check for predators, and process meat. I learned that I have much to learn about character and leadership when life’s challenges come my way. As a Father, how I handle the situation, in what I say and do, matters when the inevitable lessons of homesteading come my way.

If you want to accelerate your learning, it’s time to take more responsibility for others, and in turn, you will get more responsibility over your own self. There is no hiding responsibility when homesteading. Yes, I failed. It was hard on the family. But, the rewards you get from overcoming challenges, learning from mistakes, and becoming better as a team is worth the struggle.

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Lifestyle

Tending the Mind Garden Part 1:

You can’t spell Winter without Win

Nighthawk Bear

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No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn”

Hal Borland

I have no idea who Hal Borland is but I’m sure he’d be proud his quote finally made it into The Beartaria Times.

I’m feeling very motivated and uplifted as winter comes to a close, and would like to share some of that with you. For context, I’ll get you caught up on just a little bit of what’s been going on in my life this last year. This is going to be a 2 maybe 3 part series about cultivating an anti-fragile mentality starting at the very ground level where all tricks begin: The mind. I’ll share some methods you can use to help get your thoughts and spirit in order. The journey may be difficult, but your attitude will turn that into a win every time. My intention is that you find at least one or two golden nuggets from this and can apply them immediately to your life.

The One Man Board Room

I have recently started a profitable local small business with no money in the middle of winter in Wyoming. It’s a handyman business and is something many handy Bears who require money or a different job could start. As my unemployment money ran out and my savings dwindled, the pucker factor was high. Without hesitating, I created a rough business plan on the fly, and began making a website and setting up the business back end. This included social media pages, logo design, payment processing, and so on.

The business launched in December 2020. I had done minimal market research but was certain my skills with home repairs and remodeling were in demand in my area. Almost immediately I felt the doubts and fears weighing heavily on me. As the last of my savings dwindled, I was considering how many squirrels I could convince my girlfriend to eat. Squirrels are free, organic, and have a largely vegan diet which I’m sure any health conscious homeless people can appreciate. Thankfully it hasn’t come to that yet. With this stress pushed to the back of my mind I kept leaning into the tasks I needed to get done. Just one step forward, and then the next. I am reminded of my time in some of the more difficult military schools I’ve attended. You must win in your mind first in order to survive the harsh training. Any negative thought that rises must be dealt with quickly.

Note: Negativity is the energy you put on a situation or problem that needs to be addressed. For example: If you’re feeling crushed or weighed down emotionally when you get a flat tire, YOU respond with that energy and YOU need to learn to shift out of feeling bad (i.e. afraid, worried, despair) when problems pop up. Instead, you must cultivate the ability to keep a good attitude when dealing with problems. Having a sense of humor about it, and making a decision carefully but QUICKLY to solve the problem are a must.

Keep Your Mind Fertile

Just as the height of my anxiety kicked in, I reached out to Heaven in gratitude and really began to relax and let go. This happened almost in a flash. I felt the fear fall away and then the phone started to ring and jobs started to come to me. I leaned further on my faith and became increasingly grateful for the abundance that God has already blessed me with and will continue to bless me with in the future. It was important for me to keep my mind “fertile” with gratitude and a winning attitude. I felt like God had realigned my spirit with the path he has laid out for me. You must seek the Creator and humble yourself to His will for this to work for you long term.

This spiritual “re-centering” came at the exact time it was supposed to. It always does.

I am always grateful for the times the Heavenly Father has graciously given me clear help and inspiration. The point I want to drive home is that for you to win, you have to be active on the field. It’s much like when your car breaks down in the middle of the road and a kind stranger shows up suddenly and starts pushing your car. When that happens, the right thing to do is get out and help push while taking the wheel and guiding the car to safety. Like the kind stranger, God will do His part, and you should do your best to help even if it’s just as a gesture of gratitude.

Two are better than One

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Psalm 31: 10-12

One key element that I know Creator God brought into my life exactly when He knew I would need it, was the calm, positive presence of my girlfriend (Blonde Genius Bear). Having a good partner who understands this battle of the mind is such a blessing.

When life throws hot oil at you, make fried chicken!

Nighthawk Bear (while attacking a castle, no doubt)

For those of you in relationships, it’s a good idea to really take this to heart and help coach one another when you’re undergoing a rigorous time of growth. Like a spotter in the gym, your significant other is there to help you shoulder the weight and keep moving. It’s really beautiful to experience. I wish this for all of you.

Healthy, Holy and Whole

The specific things I do to help “push my car” are a pretty standard part of treating my mind, body, and soul holistically.

The word Holistic comes from the Greek word holos or “whole.” Interestingly, I believe the word “Holy” also comes from this same root. To be Holy, is to be healthy and whole. If your mind or spirit is feeling downtrodden or you can’t shake some doubts and fears (or worse), you may have a “Soul Cold” and need to detox.

I won’t fully discuss every possible part of a good soul detox otherwise you’ll be reading this until NEXT winter. So, for the sake of time, I will list a quick checklist of the basics so you can self-assess that you’re at least not actively poisoning your own spirit with the following:

Soul Detox

In holistic healing, the first step is to STOP POISONING YOURSELF. This goes for your mind and soul as well. This is a super critical part of tending your mind garden.

  • Stop watching the news, and movies/shows (Stop wasting time. It’s ok to cut loose a little bit every now and then, but if you’re watching movies every weekend, and bingeing on TV shows, you’re doing yourself and your community a disservice).
  • Repent (meaning “turn away from”) any unhealthy or dishonorable or “bad” behavior (drunkenness, unfaithfulness, the “big 10”, etc)
  • Forgive any wrongs done to you (easier said than done but this is a MUST)
  • Monitor your “self talk” for anything overtly negative and even destructive
  • Focus on gratitude (more on this later)
  • Clean up your diet one item at a time (Clean eating is a must. You don’t have to do it all right away, but begin making progress, learning about this NOW)

Changing your life is a constant process. You’re either improving, or you are sliding down hill. You never stay the same. Don’t worry if you feel behind on making these changes. Make the commitment to start now. Don’t stare too long on the past. Remember that a small changes done consistently (this is KEY) over time, will lead to monumental progress when you look back even 2 years from now. There are volumes of examples I could write on this, but this will give you the building blocks to begin your personal lifestyle shift if you need one.

Recap

You are not on your own in making your life better or overcoming challenges, but you are responsible for taking action and doing the work of moving forward. If you stay in motion, and seek the path of the Creator, you will be fine. If you stop moving forward, or get too bogged down by unhealthy influences in your mind or body (most importantly the MIND) you will stumble. That’s ok, just work on stumbling less and cleaning up your life.

Remember this (you have no excuse to feel “surprised” once you know this): Even after you feel like you’ve mastered basics, you will still reach incredibly difficult times in your life where you’ll wonder “what did I get myself into.” That’s ok, that part is called Growth. Lean into it, and focus on being grateful for your life and the blessings in it. I will write more on the actual practical application of gratitude in the near future. It’s almost as if it’s a jet fuel of sorts that will fuel your ability to recover from punches that life throws at you.

Until next time, turn that hat backwards, turn into the wind, and slap a huge grin on your face. The wind brings change. For those who have the courage to go and see what’s out there, may the change ever be in your favor.

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Just Crushing

How Dare You

Runnerbear shares his experience and intent behind his new book “How Dare You”.

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Fear. Anxiety. Depression. Much of the world is in the throes of despair… but not me! I’m fired up and ready to crush, how about you? For many of us, Big Bear’s influence has been what’s made the difference. Looking back, Owen’s livestream has been a blessing. Ferocious rhetoric, turbulent humor, and restorative insights? Best stream on the internet. And it’s been the best for a while. Years ago, when I first felt compelled to start writing down quotes from the great bard of a bear, it certainly wasn’t rooted in anything so ambitious as publishing a book. Something just resonated with me, so I wrote it down. Though meager in its origin, the quote document that I started didn’t stay small for long; like Owen, I’m a man of amplitude. Once upon a time I went to a track and field practice. I liked it, so obviously I dropped everything else I was doing and spent the next ten years obsessively trying to get to the Olympics. I didn’t want to party, I didn’t want to make money, and I didn’t want to study. I just wanted to run fast. Like most things, it didn’t work out exactly the way I had planned, but somewhere along this obsessive, goal-oriented path, I begrudgingly learned to appreciate the process for its own sake. Man makes plans and God laughs; the trick is learning to laugh along, letting the good path, rather than the ego, dictate where to go. Several months after I first began mining quotes, still a blood-hound, clattering away on my keyboard, I noticed that the unassuming little indicator of my quote document was suddenly boasting 10,000 words. I finally felt the abrupt weight of it. An idea that had been steadily concentrating in my mind became cemented: I should write a book about Big Bear. 

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

So goes the origin story of How Dare You. It took about a year of diligent work to go from raw quotes and a rough concept to a refined physical paperback. Today, with the delay in data from my publishing company, I’m not sure what the sales look like exactly. I don’t know who’s buying, how many are buying, or any of that. Interestingly enough, the obligation of patience has proved insightful; I’ve realized that sales aren’t my top priority. If cash was my main concern, I would have quit running, and I definitely would have quit writing, a long time ago. Ultimately, whether this metric of money leads to rags or riches doesn’t change a different, more blissful kind of dividend that I’ve had the honor of receiving since publishing How Dare You: the bright, lively response from the bears who have read it. To hear that I’ve provided a good service brings me joy. With living legends like Rachel Fulton Brown, Jean Troy-Smith, and Owen Benjamin offering such staggering high praise as calling How Dare You a “brilliant … handbook in virtue”, comparing it to the great work of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, or an enthusiastic affirmation of “excellent, excellent writing”, I can’t help but be a little bewildered.  I mean, I’ve never been great at accepting compliments to begin with, so to put such self-congratulatory things down in written words makes me a tad fidgety. 

    Whether brilliant or not, How Dare You owes much of its layout to the combination of my upbringing and Owen’s streams. Growing up, honor culture was foreign to me. Since I started from a place of ignorance, only learning about the values of honor culture as an adult (through the Big Bear), I was able to turn around and explain it with clarity and logic. It’s like the old saying goes, “those who can’t do, teach”. It’s the most brilliant savants that make the worst teachers, because they operate on instinct, not explicit understanding. Ask the very best artist, mathematician, or soccer player how they manage such brilliant feats, and there’s a good chance they’ll give you advice that’s about as unhelpful as three cheap words under one overpriced swoosh. Stepping away from the half-truths of forced corporate resonance, the act of effective teaching, requires real understanding. The act of doing, however, requires only doing. For me, upholding the paradigm of honor culture did not begin as an obvious instinct, it had to be learned. Looking back, what a valuable lesson it has been. 

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

Of course, there are always savants that take the time to excel at both doing and understanding. These are the people that you want on your team. When Owen got booted out of Hollywood and his whole world was turned upside down, suddenly, the doing part wasn’t enough by itself. He needed to take the time to get an explicit understanding of his instincts. He needed to revisit why choosing truth over money was the right decision despite popular Hollywood opinion. Thus, the Why Didn’t They Laugh (WDTL) podcast pivoted, and the course of its new insightful direction was set. Instead of focusing on the niche of differentiating between a joke that roars and a joke that flops, WDTL began focusing on values. As much for himself as it was for the audience, Big Bear needed to explain the importance of maintaining his core mantra: “I might be wrong but I’m not lying”. What followed was a long, drawn out articulation of honor culture fundamentals, paired with the dramatization of what happens when such a brash ethic is forthrightly upheld in the modern dainty public square. 

    This turn of events took place in the days of double-digit streams. I was lucky enough to get on-board early, when I began listening around number 95. Today, we’re well past 1000 and I haven’t missed one since. Between then and now, much has been unlearned, many have been banned, and more has been built. Infrastructure like Unauthorized.tv, Unbearables Media, and The Beartaria Times, did not exist back when I first wrote down a quick jab of rhetoric from a roaring comedian named Owen Benjamin. And that’s the beauty of this whole story. The Beartarian ethic is about pursuing honor culture: we build, rather than complain, we’re defined by our light, rather than our shadows, and we aim for the good, the true, and the beautiful, rather than the wicked, the false, and the ugly. We make every effort to do our best, in pursuit of God’s moral law. 

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

One of Big Bear’s great assets has been his dismissal of prioritizing a secular authority, the primary driver behind the mainstream ethic: civility culture. This opened up the authentic freedom to travel down any conceptual road, regardless of any ruffled feathers in the secular space. As a consequence, a whole world of insights has been brought forward. Encountering an enormous conceptual mass, I made the choice to break up my writing project about Owen into three sensible parts. With that decision, one book became a trilogy, with a narrative that follows the same logical arc that Owen worked through live. How Dare You is focused on the first phase of the journey: upholding the values of honor culture.

Altogether, writing How Dare You has been a wonderful project to put together. I was able to take the scattered lessons in my mind about Honor culture and distill them down into one cohesive bundle. Every part of this process has been a joy. My hope is to build a career as a professional author, spending my mornings writing from a little office in a homestead, but I’ve realized that if I had to, I’d do this for free. For the bears yet to read How Dare You, I hope it resonates with you just as much as it did with me, and just as much as it did with those who have already closed the back cover and offered such generous and rewarding feedback. It’s been my honor to make something that good people enjoy. First and foremost, this novel was always meant to be a cathartic revisit to where this whole process started. It was written by a bear, for the bears. In terms of tone, How Dare You is stern and masculine. Like Owen, I was tough with some of my words, because I know you can handle it. Bears aren’t snowflakes; we’re comfortable with the thermal kinetics that often comes when wrestling with ideas. Think of it like a coach at half-time, whose crassness and intensity are rooted in love, knowing that we can do better. But How Dare You isn’t an exercise in brow-beating either. In addition to a deliberately stern take on the hedonic side of modernity, How Dare You also bounces around between high ground abstractions and low ground goofiness, just like Owen is apt to do. Stylistically, How Dare You is for the bears.

Artwork By HandDrawnBear

Finally, I just want to take a step back and offer a sincere thank you to everyone here. Since the start, this has been a wonderful grass roots movement to be a part of. Seeds have been sown and much has been grown. We will all be known by our fruits. With what has already developed, I’m convinced that the bears are the best people on earth. Looking forward to whatever comes next.
   

Much love everybody, 

Jacob 

Runnerbear

Website: JacobTelling.com

Beartaria Times handle: @Runnerbear

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