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Shawn James - A Sustainable Lifestyle

Here is the second interview I've had with Shawn James. For those that do not know, Shawn is the creator of the huge YouTube channel, My Self Reliance. He has long promoted a more simple lifestyle, one that is created with your own two hands. I think the thing that is often lost in his message is the fact that we can all live more self-sustainably. We do not need to buy property and build a cabin. We can, even in a condo downtown, consume less and create more. Create our dinner, or useful tools, clothing, or decorations. Or whatever!


There is no such thing as being completely self-sufficient. We are social creatures. We need community. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Of course, mastering more of these skills ourselves works to our own benefit, but there is sustainability in bartering too. Less Amazon, more John is the message I get from Shawn and his channel. Here is part one and two of our most recent recordings from July 2023. Enjoy!


Part One:

Part Two:


  • 2 00:00 The thing that is dismaying to me though is that you will see the outcome of your efforts in your lifetime and I will not. So it's pretty, it's cool. It hasn't gone unnoticed that we're doing the same thing, hey?


  • It puts it in perspective. I was thinking about you this week too. Thinking exactly that, complete opposite plans. I guess, I mean, homesteading in the past meant that you went and hacked a homestead out of the woods. And my land was that 130 or 150 years ago, I guess. And I'm finding scars from that period. Like the kill shot, for example. I've watched enough now, and I'm fully convinced that kill shots should not be part of the media. I'd be free of concern. We want to protect our rights, our future, and to live a traditional life. Kill shots is an emotional thing. To me, hunting is very personal. Living a traditional life is very personal. It's between you and the animal that you harvest, and that should stay personal. It should be between you and that animal, and you should be showing reverence for that life and for all life.

  • 3 01:16 This is a Food to Field podcast, a show about wild food ingredients and how to collect them. And now, broadcasting from the wilds of Alberta, is your host, John David Schneider.

  • 2 01:31 You're looking good, you're looking spry, you feeling a little better?

  • 1 01:43 Yeah, not bad. I don't know what I told you.

  • 2 01:46 Well, I've just been following along on your channel and seeing that you weren't feeling very good and I think the last time we talked you were just in general malaise, you know, pain and tired and low energy.

  • 1 01:59 So I had the Giardia from the water there. I never really did I went to the doctor and they sent me for tests Which I didn't go for and I didn't take any medication. So Basically, they're gonna help on my own But yeah, that was like two months. It set me back good times good times

  • 2 02:16 How are you my friends it's it's been a while I've been I've been Dying to get you back on the show everybody you can join me in welcoming our friend Sean James. He's back again and since our last visit, Sean, I've been following along on your YouTube channel and been getting the odd message from you here and there about some of your successes. So I was dying to have you back on the show to talk about your spring and how your hunting went and you're on a fishing trip. And so welcome back to the show dude. Thanks

  • 1 02:51 thanks for having me back. It was great last time.

  • 2 02:55 It's been nice to stay in touch with a new friend. Yeah absolutely. It's one of the things I always have to put myself in check. I don't know if you're the same way but it's um well you're not the same way because you're you're doing so amazing on your channel but I always complain a little bit about you know how is costing me money and the general sort of feeling of I'm wasting my time doing this

  • 1 03:42 Yeah, I totally agree. When I listened to your last one, you were talking about going to the Yukon and how, of course, you could go and not film and not record and have just as good a time. But I've been consuming a lot of content, especially because I've been sick. I've been watching a lot of YouTube and podcast content from so many people in the traditional archery area, but also I'm really paying attention to land management right now. So just hearing from perspective, everybody around pretty much the continent on their experiences and that's, I don't know. I've kind of got a bit of an issue with the way a lot of people are creating content and sharing content on these platforms.

  • 2 04:33 What do you mean? Do you have an issue with the way I'm doing anything?

  • 1 04:37 Not at all, no. But it's a part of the frustration I think for a lot of us. And I'm kind of unique in that I have this platform that did well for me, but I think because I'm less niched, but I see the frustration of guys like yourself and a lot of these younger guys posting hunting content and not really quite understanding the market and the perception of the public about us, you know, us traditional life people, I want to call us. So I see that, I don't know, the images that they're portraying is not good. It's not good for our future. And I don't think people understand the existential crisis we're in as traditional livers, I guess.

  • 2 05:22 Like stylists. Yeah.

  • 1 05:24 Yeah, whatever you want to call us. Yeah, I just, I don't know. I see so much division. I see the division between the traditional archers and the compound shooters and the crossbow and the shotgunners and the rifle hunters. I don't think anybody truly understands that our entire way of life is threatened right now. It's accelerating. Putting the wrong thing on the wrong platform does a lot more damage than people realize.

  • 2 05:54 I know exactly what you mean. There's this sentiment, which I get. I understand most most people's position on anything. You know, um, I'm not overly critical of very many things, but I do understand what you mean, there's a sentiment out there in the hunting community about, I don't give a damn what anybody says or thinks I'm going to do what is legal and whatever I want to do, and I'm going to post it, whatever I want to post it. And so that's admirable in a way that you are dealing with your truth and you're putting it out there, you know, be damned. But there is such a thing as PR, isn't there? And you know, there's a perception and a, so I'm not saying go out and lie about your truth, but I am saying, you know, be gentle with the truth and be considerate of folks that don't quite maybe understand your truth, right? You're not going to go in and just blast away with blood and guts. I'm assuming that's what you're talking about, right?

  • 1 07:00 That's definitely part of it. A lot of that sort of ego and immaturity that we all go through, that's just one of the phases of life. When we're young and competitive and trying to build up our self-image and work our way up through the hierarchy just like an animal does we do things that are brazen and Looking atistical, but also not really being in touch with the sort of the spiritual side and emotional side of You yeah, and so that but like the the kill shot for example Watched enough now, and I'm fully convinced that kill shots should not be part of media. If we are concerned, we want to protect our rights, our future, to live a traditional life, you know, kill shots is an emotional thing. To me, hunting is very personal. Living a traditional life is very personal. It's between you and the animal that you harvest. And that should stay personal. It should be between you and that animal and you should be showing reverence for that life and for all life. And when you don't do that, you're just harming the image. And it's not even just harming the image, just because you're posting it for a different reason, like to gain some followers or to gain some respect or something. So I'm not sure if it's just over you know overlooking that reverence in order to gain something else it follows so I got a real injuries in my mind it's just pure belligerence yes a lot of that and that's like I said and I think maybe all most men have been guilty of that at some point in their lives right but it's but just because of the the access we have now to be able to share our content To a much larger audience than what we would have, you know shared with our friends and our family in the past now we're just putting it out there and Almost like I'm on the last time last time we talked we talked a little bit about You know the size of your audience and such and it's almost like we are preaching to the choir when we're niching down to a food a field or or or a hunting channel or something like yeah watch these young guys trying to create a hunting channel or create a hunting following and it's only what 5% of the population are hunters maybe it's less than that now so you're already under 10 yeah so it's already small enough but then to you know ever working so many people are competing because they can create the same kind of content and distribute it much easier these days. Like even 30 years ago, if you wanted to build a hunting brand, at least you had to have a decent camera and actually distribute that through channels that weren't easy to do. So it kind of weeded out the competition just through inertia. That's gone. So now you've got so much competition. I see a guy talking about a successful channel and he has 2,000 followers. There's a couple of reasons for that. It's almost impossible to grow because it's already niche and there's a lot of competition in that, but it just does not appeal to a broad audience. Or my self-reliance, it's not to me, I said it in the last time, I believe this, like it's not me. It's the genre that I've chosen where I have a large, have a broad audience that is older and the nostalgia of my self-reliance, traditional lifestyle is appealing. But you'll never see a kill shot in my content. You'll never see me boasting. You don't see pictures of me with my animal. Like I did shoot a bear this spring. You didn't see a picture of that. The turkey, there was a picture I think on Instagram that I put up of the bull with the turkey, not myself with the turkey, because it wasn't about me and my ego, it was about the experience of taking a life with a traditional piece of equipment and that's what I'm trying to promote and show. You're good at having an audience. I have a broad that broad audience is mainly non hunters and and even anti hunters They're accepting my content because I'm doing it respectfully I'm not showing the kill shot. I'm not showing the blood in the core. It's not avoiding reality And that's that's the argument people make against what I'm saying You know in fate in order to justify them showing the kill shot or to show the blood and guts. They're saying, well, that's reality and people should see reality. I don't believe that's true. I think everybody knows what happens behind the scenes, but not everybody participates. And even in the past, not everybody was a hunter. Hundreds and thousands of years ago, not everybody in the community was a hunter. There were some specialist hunters, and then there was the foragers, the gatherers, the basket makers, the you know, you get the builders, you know, yeah, whatever. Yeah.

  • 2 12:08 You know, I couldn't agree more with you bud. Um, a couple of things that you said there. Number one, I'm gonna push back on you a little bit about your channel because it was an eye-opener for me when you and I collaborated on that post the last time that you were on my show. I was now privy to every single one of the comments that came in because most people saw that post on your feed and assumed it was coming from you. And so I was getting all these comments and the expression of love was just overwhelming. Like people just voicing their opinions about you and what, you know, so I don't know. I think it is about you. You present yourself in a way that you're doing cool shit, right? But you present yourself in a way that I don't know. You're very likable. So the other thing too that you mentioned about the whole showing the kill thing, the thought that goes through my mind is whenever you see an anti-meat or pro-animal rights activist, what video are they showing? Every single time, 100% of the time, they're showing a video of animals being slaughtered or killed in what we consider humane ways in an abattoir or whatnot, but that's the first thing they show. So I just never understood why we would participate in that exact same behavior. It doesn't really make sense to me. I'm with

  • 1 13:48 you. Yeah. I mean, see, for me, there's some value and I think that's what people can't look beyond. So there was some value for me to watch videos to see the reaction to a kill shot, for example. So as a hunter, I can learn from that. But a platform like YouTube that has a massive global audience, mostly non-hunters, so you can tune into that video and watch that is not the proper way to distribute that content. It was better in the past when you had to buy a DVD. Like I used to buy the Drury outdoors videos.

  • 2 14:26 Yeah, I remember that.

  • 1 14:28 Yeah, and some of the Chuck Adams and Larry D. Jones for bear hunting in Idaho. Those are the things I purchased, but no non-hunters going and purchasing that unless they're actually anti-hunters that are buying it specifically to use that as propaganda. So anyway, I think we can clean ourselves up and I think we can stop arguing amongst ourselves about which weapon is the right one. I agree. And align ourselves even with people that are about which weapon is the right one. I agree. And align ourselves even with people that are non-hunters that are looking out for nature as well. Absolutely.



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