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Davy Crockett never made it to YouTube

So, what happens when a Mountaineer shoots a bear?

Not just any Mountaineer, but The Mountaineer, the West Virginia University mascot - and he uses his iconic weapon, the muzzleloader, for the shot.

Well, the first thing that happens is that the bear falls from the tree, since Jonathan Kimble, who serves as WVU's buckskinned mascot, is a true outdoorsman and a pretty good shot.

The next thing is that a video of the kill gets posted on the Internet, complete with some editing to incorporate the WVU fight song.

As you might expect, there has been controversy.

Several news outlets asked WVU about the video, prompting university spokesman John Bolt to issue a statement: "While Jonathan's actions broke no laws or regulations, the university has discussed this with him and he agreed that it would be appropriate to forego using the musket in this way in the future."

I've heard comments on all sides.

Some stand firmly behind Jonathan. It was a legal kill, and what's more emblematic of a Mountaineer than to be out in the woods shooting prey? Must the mascot be reduced to simply bouncing around in his buckskins at sports events?

Jonathan is an enthusiastic and popular Mountaineer who actually spends time in the outdoors. It's refreshing to have someone fill the role who appears naturally comfortable in the woods with his muzzleloader.

"Perfect," wrote one e-mailer. "That's what the Mountaineer does."

A few didn't think it was appropriate for the university's mascot to kill a bear that had been treed by dogs, then engage in what some would call excessive celebration after the bear hit the ground.

"I think that it is inappropriate for him to use the school-supplied gun to hunt," one non-hunter told me in an email.

Then there was the howling celebration by Jonathan which, had he been on the football field, would have triggered a penalty flag.

One longtime hunter told me that he understands the euphoria at killing the bear, and admitted to letting out an occasional yee-haw when he hits a target, but says he would have tempered his enthusiasm on camera.

"The video editing with the fight song and 'Let's Go Mountaineers' was over the top," he told me.

Frankly, I cringed at the video. Seeing a fatally wounded bear fall out of a tree gives me no joy.

I support a person's right to hunt and have plenty of friends and family members who value their time in the woods. However, it's never much interested me, so I don't hunt.

But Jonathan is, in fact, a jerky-eating, woods-prowling, dead-eye shooting country boy.

He's going to shoot animals, whether or not he's using the muzzleloader, and that's certainly understandable. For the Mountaineer Mascot, even appropriate.

Next time, just don't make a video.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.


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