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Observation Analysis Notes

Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Assignment One
September 10, 2014
Big Missouri Bucks Deer Hunting - Backwoods Life 9.1 Full Episode

Note: This observation was a thirty-five minute video on YouTube called Big Missouri Bucks
Deer Hunting - Backwoods Life 9.1 Full Episode. The link can be found here:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRzbdZz0CQw). I have chosen to document my
observation in increments of time. The timing of different observations will be recorded as
4:54, which is 4 minutes and 54 seconds into the video from the start time.
Relevant Background Information: Michael Lee and Kevin Knighton started the Backwoods
Life television series back into 2004 to showcase different hunts around the world and allow
viewers to experience the adventures too. This specific episode takes place in the woods of
Lewistown, Missouri. The Backwoods Life crew takes a hunting trip in the heat of the season to
see what the state of Missouri has to offer. The episode contains different activities that take
place before the hunt, actual footage of the various hunts, as well as times of looking back and
talking about those hunts.
Figured World: an arrangement of regulations that specify fitting behaviors for different
situations. These regulations include proper ways of interacting with those around oneself and
communicating with them.
Rules and Conventions: Within the world of whitetail deer hunting, there are many rules one
must follow to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the field. The first of these safety rules
is to keep the muzzle of any firearm (or any other weapon) pointed in a safe direction. This will
prevent any accidental injuries in the case of the gun misfiring. Another rule to limit the chances
of an accidental injury is keeping the safety on your gun on until you are absolutely ready to
pull the trigger and knowing what is beyond your target that could potentially get hit when you
shoot. Never cross over ditches or fences while holding a firearm (or other weapon) because if
you were to fall, dropping the weapon and causing it to discharge is much more likely. Instead,
have a hunting buddy hold your weapon as you cross the obstacle and then take it from them
after youve successfully crossed to then give them an opportunity to cross. Knowing and
abiding by these safety tips will greatly decrease the opportunity for injury to occur while in the
field. In addition to these; local, state, and federal hunting laws should be observed. The local
laws differ by the region and county of the state where you are. They address the shooting hours
in a given day, where you can and cannot shoot in relation to buildings and roads, whether or not
you can hunt with dogs (a style of hunting that has sparked much controversy), whether or not
baiting is allowed; and if so, what type (corn feeder, salt block, etc.), and the regulations
concerning the proper tagging and documenting of harvesting a deer on state-owned game lands.
There are also some conventions for communication when hunting. Speaking softly and not
making any sudden or swift movements are the most common, and help to avoid any detection
by the game of the hunter(s) presence. If the deer sense the hunters, they will flee the area and
the hunt may be ruined. These are the basic rules and conventions for hunting whitetail deer.

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Actors: people who satisfy different aspects of a community of practice or figured world.
Within this specific episode, the actors are the members of the Backwoods Life crew (the
hunters). This list does not include all members, but specifically the ones who played the more
significant roles throughout the hunt.

Michael Lee: Michael was the first to harvest a deer on a bow hunt. He called it in only
12 yards from his stand and was able to land a vital shot. The deer didnt run far at all,
and he was able to track it very easily. She was a nice, big-bodied doe that had a small
buck on her trail. This early success gave him an edge over the other hunters making
the trip somewhat of a competition. He was able to brag a little about harvesting the first
deer. Michael is the quietest of the three characters, but when he speaks, he is wise and it
is apparent he loves the sport of whitetail deer hunting. He, along with the other two, has
a high level of expertise when it comes to hunting.
Woody Sullivan: Woody was able to go on the first hunt of the bunch on the opening
day of season in Missouri. He saw a nice nine point buck walk in, but was just too far out
of range to take the shot. Because of the wind working against him, he was unable to
successfully call the deer closer into shooting range. The wind prevented the sounds of
the call from traveling well enough to be heard by the deer. Woody seems to be a laid
back character overall, and uses his humor to engage viewers. He really came out when
he was sitting with the other two actors talking and reminiscing on the hunt.
Kevin Knighton: Kevin went on an early season bow hunt in another location in
Lewistown Missouri. He had a nice big-bodied doe walk right under his stand in very
close shooting range, but came up empty-handed when he chose to let the deer walk and
not take the shot. He chose to do so because behind the doe was a young fawn and the
hunter couldnt stand to take the mother from her young. Kevin is in many ways the
main actor of the episode, and the Backwoods Life crew as he started the show back in
2004. He normally relies on his knowledge of the sport and experience doing it to
establish his credibility and captivate the attention of viewers.

Artifacts: something physical that is of great importance within a community of practice or


figured world. These objects have the power to alter the motivations, actions, and goals of the
members of that figured world.

Firearms (or other weapons): Weapons taken and utilized on hunting trips are the most
essential gear. This may seem very obvious, but is extremely important. The weapons
must be properly maintained and cared for to ensure accuracy and reliability in the field
when taking a shot. If malfunctions occur in the field, hunts can be ruined when the
problems are too extensive to fix immediately on-the-fly. This leads to many missed
opportunities and frustration with the sport.
The deer rack: To many hunters, the sport of whitetail deer hunting is more than just the
rush of adrenaline that comes with seeing a monster buck. They enjoy what may come
with killing that trophy deer- the rack that they can proudly hang on their wall and brag
about for years to come. This is why a deers rack is considered an artifact; it is
something physical that is important to the figured world.
The deer meat: Whitetail deer hunting (and the hunting of any game) has forever served
as a method of gaining a source of food. Even still today, the meat harvested in a hunt is

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

of great value to the hunter, their family, and whoever else they may feed with the game.
One successful hunt can stock a freezer with meat for months on end.
Community of Practice: gathering of individuals with similar ideas, beliefs, and objectives.
There are a couple of these within this specific figured world.

The hunters: Michael, Woody, and Kevin serve as a community of practice because they
come together with the same objective of capturing various hunts on film and giving
others the opportunity of experiencing the hunt too. They also have the hopes of being
successful and harvesting multiple nice, mature deer. They communicate, offer tips and
advice to each other, and practice quite a bit to accomplish this.
The deer population: The deer on this specific hunting ranch in Lewistown, Missouri,
have common objectives. Their main objective is survival. They communicate through
sound and behavior to warn other deer of threats that may be lurking. They often travel
together in small herds as another method of defense- having numbers.

Domain: The combined knowledge and expertise of individuals (actors) within a figured
world. The domain is also the goal of a community of practice. The domain allows the
individuals to learn from each other.

The hunters: Michael, Woody, and Kevin altogether have a better knowledge of the
sport of whitetail deer hunting than any one of them individually. Through telling stories
of their experiences, ways they couldve acted better in a situation, and general tips of
advice, they all benefit greatly and become better at what they do. Again, their
committed to the same objective, and that is to be successful by harvesting multiple nice,
mature deer.
The deer population: Many of the older, more mature deer are often followed by
younger, inexperienced deer. As the old hunting saying goes, Big deer dont get big by
being dumb. This means that the larger trophy bucks that have not been harvested have
been smart and not been in situations to where they could be shot. They know their
surroundings and quickly pick up on signals that let them know when to flee a certain
area. This expertise and the younger deer following the examples set for them makes this
a domain for the population of deer on this specific hunting ranch.

Practices of the Community: The practices are similar to habits, and kind of like the
communitys norms. They are completed to promote the success of the individuals.

Practicing calling techniques: Calling in whitetail deer from far ranges into ranges that
improve the chances of making an accurate shot is often a difficult task. It must be
practiced so that calls sound realistic and really entice the deer to come in and investigate
what is going on around them.
Shooting a lot: Hunters can never be too familiar with their firearms. They should
handle them regularly to get a good knowledge of them and where each of the functional
parts are located. Shooting quite a bit is a must as well. When practicing, shots should be
taken at various distances and angles of depression (from the tree stand to the ground) to
simulate different scenarios that may arise when hunting.

Literacy Practices: the methods/habits of communication throughout a community of practice.

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Low-Volume communicating: When youre in the field, talking may be a giveaway to


deer that there is a threat around them. If they hear hunters, they will flee the area where
they are and the hunt will be ruined. Instead, hand signals and a low whisper must be
implemented to communicate about a deer walking in or its position in relation to the
hunters. When hunting in group settings, communication between trucks and hunters
good distances apart from each other is done by way of CB radio.

The Observation:
4:29 mins.- Kevin Knighton sees a big-bodied doe, but chooses to let her walk and not shoot
because she was followed by a small fawn that he didnt want to leave abandoned. This is a key
event from the episode because it shows attributes of a mature hunter. Hunters that are new to the
sport will often times shoot anything that walks out, regardless of the age or maturity of the deer.
This not responsible hunting because it can greatly affect the deer population if many immature
deer are taken which in-turn puts a damper on whitetail deer hunting for the future generations.
Choosing to let the doe walk and live another day to raise her fawn to become a deer that can
survive independently and flourish promotes hunting for the future generations. It does not have
a detrimental effect on the deer populations as overhunting would.

18:31 mins.- Michael Lee had a shot on a huge nine point buck, but missed twice. Before he
could shoot again, the deer had already walked past the tree line and was out of sight. The shot
was extremely difficult, reaching out to 342 yards. At that distance, margin of error becomes a
lot higher. With the differences in elevation of the shooter and game and the multiple crosswinds between them, there are many factors that can affect the shot that must be considered.
Misplaced shots outside of the vital areas on a deer can lead to harm for them and kills that are
not humane. The suffering that comes from this often brings a bad name for the hunting
community. Opinions and ideas are formed that hunters are cruel, dont like animals, and take
pleasure in killing things. This is far from the truth for responsible hunters. They respect
animals, enjoy the challenge of how elusive and intelligent the animals actually are, and the idea
of being outdoors and experiencing nature is far more rewarding than having a nice rack of
antlers to hang on the wall. Even the most skilled hunters that have done it for many years can
miss a shot and lose the opportunity of harvesting a really nice deer. That challenge is what
makes the sport so addicting.

27:09 mins.- Kevin Knighton delivered a vital shot on a buck with his muzzleloader.
Muzzleloaders, as their names imply, are loaded from the muzzle (end of the barrel). Hunters
stand the guns upright before pushing a patch with black powder and a projectile (lead ball or
something similar) with a ram rod. These are pushed down to the chamber of the firearm where
they are seated. A percussion cap placed in the breach of the gun is used to create a spark that
initiates the explosion when it is struck by the hammer of the gun. Muzzleloaders are more
primitive weapons in their simplicity of design and ease of use. However, they take a while to
reload, making follow-up shots inevitably impossible. This kill was a huge point in the hunt as it
was a confidence builder when early-on a few deer were left to walk and others were missed. In
the moments following the shot, Kevin was shaking. The rush of emotion he felt was in response

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

to getting excited from seeing the buck and knowing he had made a good shot. That is what the
sport of whitetail deer hunting is all about- its a chance to be outdoors and enjoy nature, and it
gets the emotions of the hunters going.

Assignment One
September 17, 2014
Deer Gear (Episode 6) 2014: Shed Hunting, Handguns, How-To Deer Tips and More

Note: This observation was a thirty minute video on YouTube called Deer Gear (Episode 6)
2014: Shed Hunting, Handguns, How-To Deer Tips and More. The link can be found here:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DcHRmp_Wp0). I have chosen to document my
observation in increments of time. The timing of different observations will be recorded as
4:54, which is 4 minutes and 54 seconds into the video from the start time.

Relevant Background Information: DeerGear TV began in 2008 after the vision of Rusty
Faulk and the signing with the Pursuit channel on DirecTV for basic coverage. In 2009, Steve
Smith and John Orrell joined the Pursuit channel management team and brought expertise and
financial resources to the table that helped the TV channel grow exponentially. In this episode
we learn about handgun hunting, how to rattle for deer (a method of calling), planting food plots,
and supplemental feeding programs as well as insight on how to be a better deer hunter.

Figured World: [Same as defined above]


Rules and Conventions: [Same as defined above]
Actors: [Same as defined above; HOWEVER, the characters themselves change, and will be
explored below.]

Justin Bryan: Justin speaks on the process of the shedding of antlers in deer and the
natural cycles, like photoperiod, that affect when this takes place. He tells of ways to
improve chances of finding these sheddings by explaining where to look and how to build
shedding traps that collect them. There is a rope trap that attaches to the bottom of
feeders and a fence trap composed of stakes and wire (with corn feed in the middle)
that stand about two feet high. He is highly skilled in this arena and uses his expertise to
help other hunters. You can tell he has a passion for the sport.
Paul Pluff: Paul serves as a guest on the TV show, and a representative for the gunmaker, Smith & Wesson. He shows off the line of handguns specific for deer hunting
made by Smith & Wesson before choosing his favorite and taking it on an actual hunt.
Paul was able to harvest a nice mature 8-point buck on his hunt. He is not just head-smart

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

when it comes to the handguns, he is able to apply his knowledge and use them
successfully in the field. This improves his credibility and gains the attention of viewers.
Artifacts: [Same as defined above]
Community of Practice: [Same as defined above; HOWEVER, the specific examples are more
generalized. The hunters also includes the actors from this episode and The deer
population is not limited to just those found on the hunting ranch in Lewistown, Missouri.]

Domain: [Same as defined above; HOWEVER, the specific examples are slightly different.
The hunters are Justin and Paul for this specific episode as opposed to Michael, Woody,
and Kevin, which were from the first observation.]

Practices of the Community: [Same as defined above]

Literacy Practices: [Same as defined above]

The Observation:
1:18 mins.- Justin Bryan explains the rope trap for improving chances of harvesting sheddings
of antlers in the field. The design is quite simple. All hunters have to do is place a rope around
the base of their corn feeders at about the height of the deers head when it is bent down to eat.
When the deer stand up, the antlers may catch on the rope which promotes the shedding. This
should only be done around the time of year during which the deer shed. Learning to properly
construct shedding traps is significant because having these sheddings allow hunters to observe
the health of deer on the plot of land they are hunting. If the health observed from the antlers is
poor, adjustments can be made and the hunters plant hearty crops for deer, like alfalfa or
soybean, to help the overall population of the deer. Doing so preserves hunting for future
generations by managing the deer to ensure they are not killed by different sicknesses or disease
they may contract. The racks shed also make for good dcor and conversation pieces in the
homes of hunters.

10:03mins.- Wade Middleton showcases one of the most popular corn feeders on the market. He
demonstrates how to set it up and use it to maximize the activity of deer around it. This is
significant so that hunters, outdoorsmen, and wildlife managers are efficient with how they hunt.
Setting the feeders on timers to feed too often or too much corn when they do feed will limit the
longevity of a bag of corn. More will have to be bought more often, and the hunters will be
spending large amounts of money that do not necessarily have to be spent. Hunting smarter and
using resources wisely will pay off huge in the long run. Local laws concerning feeding and
baiting and the different types of each (as mentioned in the Rules and Conventions section)

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

should be consulted before feeders are constructed. Tickets and citations from game wardens are
not cheap either. This gets back to hunting smarter; save yourself the trouble of getting a ticket.

28:27mins.- Paul Pluff took a successful shot on a nice 8-point buck that was quartering towards
his stand at a water hole. He was hunting with a handgun made by Smith & Wesson, the
company for which he works. His knowledge of handgun hunting for whitetail deer was
displayed when he was able to discuss the handgun and its features before successfully using it in
the field. This is significant because his expertise goes beyond facts about a firearm, he can
properly use it. As a result, he is more dynamic than someone who just remembers and recites
information about a product. He is more well-rounded and credible in his field of work. Using a
handgun is arguably more challenging than hunting with a rifle or bow. Typically they are shot
with one hand, making it more difficult to hold them steady. Also, only using one hand limits the
control one has of the firearm. The kick (or recoil of the gun when fired) is not as easily managed
with one hand, and staying on target can be a challenge. This often translates into follow-up
shots after the initial shot being delayed as the target must be re-acquired. Many hunters like this
challenge, and more and more each year are turning to handgun hunting to get away from the
familiarity and comfort of hunting with a long gun (shotgun/rifle) or bow.

Assignment One
September 17, 2014
Episode 8 - Nebraska White-Tail Hunt Part 1 - TripleMAG
Note: This observation was a thirty minute video on YouTube called Episode 8 - Nebraska
White-Tail Hunt Part 1 - TripleMAG. The link can be found here:
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stPEvrsogME). I have chosen to document my observation
in increments of time. The timing of different observations will be recorded as 4:54, which is 4
minutes and 54 seconds into the video from the start time.
Relevant Background Information: Triple MAG is the first hunting reality show starring all
family, all female hunters. The family comes from Pennsylvania. The show began and is still
aired to prove that whitetail deer hunting, notoriously a sport for men, is not gender-specific.
Women and girls can get out in the field and hunt just as well as men. Because of this, the show
gained much popularity and expanded its horizons of the types of viewers.

Figured World: [Same as defined above]


Rules and Conventions: [Same as defined above]
Actors: [Same as defined above; HOWEVER, the characters themselves change, and will be
explored below.]

Gina Fantaskey: Gina is a host of the show, and a mother to the other hunter, Alyssa
Fantaskey. On this episode, she was able to harvest the first deer of the hunting trip, a

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

huge Nebraska 9-point buck. This reinforces the idea that Alyssa learns from her mother
in many more ways than just one. Gina is sure to remind Alyssa of this too. The
relationship of the two is very significant because it shows that a parent-child relationship
doesnt always have to be serious and full of responsibility. They can do what they love
with the very people they love.
Alyssa Fantaskey: Alyssa had a shot on a nice deer fairly early in the hunt, but was
unable to connect at the long range, and missed. After getting over the initial
disappointment, she didnt let this ruin the rest of her hunt, but took it as a challenge to do
better the next time and land a kill shot. This is significant to most any situation in life,
even those much bigger than the sport of hunting. When a person faces something that
doesnt go the way they had wanted it to or planned for it to go, they must continue on
and not allow it to prevent them from being successful in the future.

Artifacts: [Same as defined above]


Community of Practice: [Same as defined above; HOWEVER, the specific examples are more
generalized. The hunters also includes the actors from this episode and The deer
population is not limited to just those found on the hunting ranch in Lewistown, Missouri.]

Domain: [Same as defined above; HOWEVER, the specific examples are slightly different.
The hunters are Gina and Alyssa for this specific episode as opposed to Justin and Paul,
which were from the second observation.]

Practices of the Community: [Same as defined above]

Literacy Practices: [Same as defined above]

The Observation:
4:20mins.- At this point in the episode, the girls are getting a little target practice in before the
Nebraska hunt to ensure that their rifles are properly sighted in. This is smart as rifles can get
knocked out of sight if they arent carefully packaged and stored for the travel to a distant
hunting spot. However, whether youre traveling from Pennsylvania to Nebraska (like the girls)
or not, all hunters should do the same at the beginning of each season and sight their rifles in.
This allows them to know exactly how the firearm shoots to make them most comfortable in the
field when the shot really counts. This principle is applicable in many areas of life too. We
should all practice at something until we feel totally comfortable doing it.
14:18mins.- At this time, Gina landed the vital shot on her 9-point buck. This is a significant
event to the hunt because it was the first kill, and got the morale of the hunters up and going. The
kill was almost a catalyst because it set the bar high early on for the other hunters to attain.

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Sometimes events similar to this in life (ones that spark motivation) are necessary to get thoughts
and ideas rolling and goals accomplished.

15:10mins.- At this time, Alyssa unfortunately missed the monster buck she was taking a shot at.
As I said earlier in this observation, this is significant to most any situation in life, even those
much bigger than the sport of hunting. When a person faces something that doesnt go the way
they had wanted it to or planned for it to go, they must continue on and not allow it to prevent
them from being successful in the future. Alyssa did just this and was able to drop a trophy of a
buck at 20:16 minutes into the episode.

Interview 1: For this interview, I talked with a good buddy of mine named Robert Dillard.
Robert is from northern Virginia, and has hunted the land for years. He tells of men from his
family hunting for generations and how hunting is woven into what forms his heritage. He is a
responsible sportsman that enjoys the sport of whitetail deer hunting.
1. Tell me about your most memorable experience when you were out hunting in the field.
Definitely my first deer killed that was ran by my hunting dogs. It takes a lot of effort and hard
work to train a dog to run a deer, and when you get the chance to kill a deer in front of your
dogs it is a major reward for your hard work.
2. Explain to me how you were introduced to the sport of hunting. Every man for generations
in my family was a hunter. In the south it is more of a tradition thing than anything. So at a
young age I was brought into the sport by my dad who was taught by his dad.
3. How would describe your emotion in the moments before you take a shot (bow or gun)?
After watching a deer from a far come closer and closer to your stand your heart starts to pound
and you can feel the adrenaline rush through your body. When the deer finally steps in range to
take a shot everything seems still. As you draw back the bow or hold up a gun it seems as if time
stands still. Nothing in the world matters at that very moment except for taking the shot.
4. Describe your first trip hunting and how it went. My first trip hunting wasnt much of
success in the sense that nothing was shot at. I sat on stand with my pawpaw because daddy
knew I would talk too much and ruin his hunt. I sat there with an unloaded .410 and listened to
every word spoken by my pawpaw. It was more about life and being a man than hunting which
seemed too much for a six year old, but I still remember some of those lessons today. Nothing
mattered but being on that stand, I learned from that day on that I wanted to deer hunt in the
future just from listening and learning from my pawpaw.
5. How would you respond to individuals that are against the sport of hunting? Hunting is
strictly about heritage. Times are changing but there will always be hunters. People want to get
rid of it because it is the slaughter of innocent animals even though hunting is taught to young
men to learn to provide food for their family. In the south we learn a lot about life and living
from the deer stand and no one can take that from us. So in my opinion it is pointless for people
to be against a sport that teaches young men lessons that involve life, providing for your family,
and being a man.

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Interview 2: For this interview, I spoke with my roommate, Alan-Michael Hales. I havent
known him for very long, only since the beginning of this school year. Hunting is a hobby that
we both share though, and I knew after choosing my figured world of the sport of whitetail deer
hunting that I wanted to interview him as a part of this study.
1. Tell me about your most memorable experience when you were out hunting in the field. I
was sitting in the tree stand, and a buck walked out to the corn pile we had not long before left. I
felt a sensation come over my body & I knew that I was about to kill my first buck. I then lifted
my .30-06 and fired at the buck. The feeling it gave me was so powerful that I could barely walk
in the moments following the shot.
2. Explain to me how you were introduced to the sport of hunting. My cousin was really big
into hunting. He once took me on one of his hunting trips, and I really enjoyed it. From then on, I
hunted more and more, and now its a pastime of mine. I love the sport.
3. How would describe your emotion in the moments before you take a shot (bow or gun)?
Umm, I often have some worry that I may miss the buck. I use this as a challenge though, and
strive hard not to. My heart beats quickly, my breathing becomes heavy, and I can feel my palms
sweat. This description doesnt do the emotions justice though; you just have to experience it.
4. Describe your first trip hunting and how it went. The first trip I took was dry as could be.
Nothing at all was walking, I didnt even see a deer. Obviously the trip wasnt very successful
and it actually discouraged me a little. I viewed hunting as pretty boring and almost a waste of
time. I didnt let it be my last trip though. I stuck with it, and after experiencing much challenge
and eventual success, I really enjoy it.
5. How would you respond to individuals that are against the sport of hunting? To me, its
all about personal preference. The sport is a lot of fun, once you get behind the gun. The meat is
also quite tasteful. I understand that it isnt for everybody, and I respect that, but I enjoy the
sport and will hunt for many seasons and years to come.

Above and Beyond


One way I went above and beyond on Assignment One was by including a second interview. The
questions were the same, I just administered the interview to another hunter that is an active
participant in the figured world of whitetail deer hunting. I also applied Relevant Background
Information to each of the specific observations as opposed to just hunting in general. My
observations were YouTube videos, and the background information I provided were specific to
the characters in them. Finally, I went above and beyond by studying the websites of each of the
television series to learn about the characters in them, read the forums on the website, and try to
get a feel for what the specific show cast was all about.

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Visual Aids

Deer Feeder

Antler Sheds

Observation Analysis Notes


Assignment One

Marshall Thompson, 2014

Muzzleloader Diagram