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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

The Case for Suspenders

Built For Fancy Pants, Refined by the Working Man

Nighthawk Bear

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Before oversized children were buying fruity branded computers and expensive puffed-up coffees while thinking up names for their tiny imitation dogs, suspenders were what REAL men wore to their labor intensive jobs. This quick dive into the recent past of men’s utility/work accessories will present what the modern man can hope to gain by adding this one item to their work attire. 

While in the Army at Camp McCall, NC, I became friends with another combat medic from one of the Ranger battalions who had just gotten back from a deployment to Afghanistan. I noticed he always opted to wear suspenders instead of a belt when he was road marching. Now a road march (or “rucking” or “humping the tick” as its also called) in our “Small Unit Tactics” course was our way of carrying all our equipment on our backs as we stalked as a platoon through the woods. Sometimes it’s also done for speed in a “timed road march” event, kind of like a marathon, but for men.

Military Tested

Having done this activity for years, I had never seen anyone wear suspenders until then. Once you’re walking with the “tick” on your back, you’re kind of stuck with whatever you’ve got on, in exactly the manner  it wants to ride. There usually isn’t any time to adjust things when you’re on the move, so you need to be very certain about what you choose to wear.

I waited until we had finished a troop movement before I tried to gather intel on his setup. As I casually questioned the man about his over-the-shoulders method of commanding his pantaloons, I took mental notes and it all seemed to check out.

He explained:

 “I went to a Korean tailor on Bragg Blvd where I had them sew buttons on my pants. These buttons were strategically placed so they wouldn’t rub on my back when the frame from my rucksack lay against my torso.” 

God bless those tiny Asian hands.

Korean tailors are a form of “camp follower” around every Army base I’d been. They can customize any piece of gear or clothing for a good price. Additionally they give a mean hair cut and make some of the best BBQ you’ll ever have.

He continued:

“I bought the suspenders at Ranger Joe’s in Ft. Benning, Ga. They loop onto the buttons, and don’t rub sores on my back like the web belt normally does when you’re running through the woods or carrying a casualty on your shoulder.” 

I’d spent many days in the rain, walking and running with the “tick” on my back. When your pants are weighed down by water and mud, your belt isn’t much good. The pants just keep sagging until one day you kneel down to take a break and the crotch rips out on your pants. I’ve seen this happen more times than I care to count. This wouldn’t happen if you wore a sturdy pair of suspenders. 

You can, of course, wear both at the same time. A belt and suspenders may sound like overkill, but if you need the upward pressure on the belt line, but also desire the knife-wielding utility of a belt, I see no better way.

Suspenders in Civilian Life

If John Rambo had just worn suspenders, he would have been way more comfortable just building useful structures and being an asset to his community. Suspenders would have acted as an emotional anchor to the way of life that built the foundation of America. 

The closest civilian activity to “road marching” is your good ol hiking and backpacking. Some of you may even be familiar with the practice of “orienteering.” You can click the link to read all about this valuable skill at Info Galactic.

I recently became reacquainted with the usefulness of these nylon shoulder harnesses. I was walking back and forth to the garage while working on my greenhouse, and noticed I kept pulling up my britches. Working outdoors on my feet all summer had trimmed down my love handles and I am back to being old Mr. Hipless Board Sides. 

While at a farm and ranch supply store, I saw and instantly purchased a set of work suspenders. This, again, was a game changer for me. No longer hindered by saggy britches, I was free to run about and focus on crushing. 

A Brief History

Although suspenders likely originated at about the same time that pants came on the scene, the first patent to improve the modern suspender was in 1871 by Mr. Mark Twain himself (under his actual name Samuel Clemens, of course).

Clemens wasn’t a fan of the same garment accessory used by Napoleon. In that day, my understanding is that the common French application was a couple strips of ribbon attached to pants with buttons. These were clearly not for those in the blacksmith trade or the carpentry and masonry fields of labor. For those tasks, you need something a bit more sturdy than Red Riding Hood’s hair ribbon. 

It is likely that suspenders were also used by royalty because of their rotundness (being fat was a sign of wealth throughout antiquity). Large bellied individuals have trouble wearing a belt as any movement will send their knickers sliding. I sometimes wonder if comedian Chris Farley would have lived a few more years had he opted for a more definitive approach to trouser stabilization.

Farmers and ranchers have kept this tradition alive out of age old wisdom. I am very grateful for their longstanding wisdom. Nowadays, the stamped metal clamps that grip the belt line of the pants have improved slightly. You still have two basic designs, in case you were wondering. I opt for the clamps, but the button on ones are still widely available. With a needle and thread, you can place the buttons wherever you please. The design really hasn’t changed since my great grandfather was getting bucked off his first horse and Teddy Roosevelt was knocking teeth loose in university boxing matches. 

My grandfather used to get bucked off his wagon (yes, it’s possible to be bucked off an entire wagon), and once he even break his leg. However, he never needed to break a sweat trying to realign his trousers because he was a man of suspenders.

So if you’re a hard working man, and share the frustration with belts, try on a sturdy pair of suspenders. You can thank me later by sending us a short description of something useful you’ve built or fixed! Send your completed article (aim for less than 1,000 words) with pictures to the appropriate section editor. I look forward to reading about your accomplishments. Until next time.

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Farming

Building Beartaria Book Review

Need a great book to cozy up with during this coming chilly season? A book you will reach for again and again? Find yourself a copy of this hulk of a resource, “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery!

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“The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery

Need a great book to cozy up with during this coming chilly season? A book you will reach for again and again? Find yourself a copy of this hulk of a resource, “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery! A 900+ page collection of how-to’s, diagrams, anecdotes and good old country wisdom on just about anything you can think of in relation to living like a pioneer. The ultimate guide for living off of, and in harmony with the land. 

Carla began writing this book in 1969 as a helpful guide to hold in your hands and be able to pass on. In her words: “The ‘Back to the land’ movement had started happening then – a tremendous out-migration from cities to country. I was living in a tiny town in Northern Idaho, and the newcomers were everywhere, full of urgent questions about growing plants and raising animals.” Her original book from that time has grown and changed over the ensuing decades, with many contributions from others. The honest goal of helping generations of her fellow man and woman reclaim that oh so important knowledge is felt throughout. Knowledge that reads just as if it were being told to you by a loving grandparent on your front porch, or over a batch of slow cooking apple butter with a friend, or while helping to square the posts on a much needed fence line for a neighbor. 

I turn to this book often, and never close it without learning something new and adding a new bookmark. Even after having owned it for a number of years. It’s got a little bit of everything! From finding your land, to working it, to making it a Home full of family. To raising all manner of livestock from baby to butcher. To growing and harvesting then cooking and preserving almost everything, from seed to pantry to table. Including foraging and hunting! It’s a fantastic resource, for anyone, no matter what stage of homesteading you find yourself in. Crack it open on just about any page, and you’re sure to gain insight into the kind of true self-sufficiency you’d never even thought yourself capable of. 

Take it from another wise Beartarian, on the Eastern side of our great land, Mohawk Farmer Bear: 

“That’s a great book. Tons of practical info. Every homesteader should have one…It’s a book the Bears should know about.” 

Mohawk Farmer Bear

Our Western Beartarian homestead wholeheartedly agrees.

Enjoy, and Onward!

– Breanna

@ameliaameliorate on IG

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Farming

Medieval Greenhouse On The Prairie

Nighthawk Bear takes us through his geothermal timber frame greenhouse build.

Nighthawk Bear

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Timber Frame Greenhouse

Building a Wyoming Geothermal Timber Frame Greenhouse

Welcome to the MOST difficult building project I’ve ever done. This is the beginning of what will soon be a Geothermal Timber Frame Greenhouse. Once it’s completed, I will be able to grow citrus and jungle plants in Wyoming. Who knows, I may even breed jungle panthers! All that’s needed is a stabile temperature around 50 degrees in the winter, and the right soil conditions (also maybe kevlar clothing if the panthers get frisky). I am currently focused on the structure and the temperature systems. I’ll try to explain why I’m doing this crazy thing, and how it will be accomplished.

I enjoy drinking lemon water in the morning, as it’s a great way to keep my body alkaline. It occurred to me that I could get citrus with far better quality if I grew it myself. Also, I want to help my family become less dependent upon grocery stores and long supply chains. In order to grow food year round, I would need a strong, climate controlled structure. I’ve held a fascination with medieval timber construction, and have also been inspired to build something like an old English garden greenhouse. It has been a grueling learning process, but my purpose is what keeps me motivated. A geothermal greenhouse will provide a well appreciated stable food supply even in the cold months.

Inspiration Precedes Perspiration

 So how did I learn growing citrus in Wyoming was even theoretically possible? Once I heard of a man who inherited some land about 5,000 feet above sea level in the Austrian Alps named Sepp Holzer. He used permaculture in such a way that he was able to grow citrus trees in the mountains. Holzer, developed an understanding of the ecosystem and learned to mimic nature to help the land produce fruit. Unlike the Alps, nothing much grows on the plains. Grass doesn’t even grow here very well. It’s very dry where I live. When the clouds do bring moisture, it’s in the form of snow and -15degree temperatures. However, we do have a lot of sunshine. This is the number one ingredient in Florida oranges, if the commercials are correct. So instead of complaining about not being able to grow things easily, I took an extreme right turn and decided to create a way to grow just about anything. 

Prepare the Battlefield

The first obstacle to building the greenhouse was the terrain. We live on a hill and needed to dig into the side of it in order to create a level area for the greenhouse. In doing this, we create about a 10ft earth wall at one end of the greenhouse. The earth will be lined with black rubber sheeting that will absorb the heat from the sun and warm the earth behind it. The stored heat will warm the greenhouse during the cold nights. 

Additionally, I dug a 175ft long trench at a depth of 8ft. In the bottom of the trench I buried three corrugated plastic tubes that will be used to circulate air. The air at 8ft below the surface has a stable temperature at about 54 degrees Fahrenheit. This air will help warm the greenhouse in the winter, and cool it in the summer. For good measure, I also plan to circulate air between two layers of plastic sheeting. The constant airflow will warm the walls facing the freezing outside temperatures. With these systems combined, I hope to keep the temperature inside the greenhouse at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit even when the windchill outside is -20degrees F.  

Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

Normally, when you build a timber frame structure, you get the correct size timber from a mill. However, I don’t have such a timber mill nearby. From day one, I was inventing ways to combine found materials to fulfill my timber needs. By the grace of God, my neighbor never throws away anything. I literally used a baby boomer’s scraps to build this project. Working day and night, I glued, bolted, and strapped boards together. Then, after the glue dried, I fired up the chainsaw and carefully rip-cut the new beams down to make my own 6×8’s. 

There is still much work to do. I have finally finished measuring, cutting, and assembling the timber structure. This was the bulk of the heavy labor. 

The video linked in this article will describe a little more in detail what I have done so far. I hope this will inspire you to grow and build your way out of Babylon. You don’t need to go to the extreme lengths that I have. Just build your families and communities. Shorten your supply chains every chance you get. Work to get out of debt. These are all primary goals I hope we all will accomplish and make a reality in our lives. If we continue to focus on these, we will begin to see a level of prosperity outside the system that will bless those around us for generations. 

This is OUR new age. We’re not talking yoga mats, man buns, and trying to channel Elvis. Our new age is full of family, friends, love, faith, and hope. Onward. 

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