Cumberland Times-News

December 15, 2012

Atta baby, Jonathan! Good shot!

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— Use a musket to shoot one little bear and what do they call you?

We'll, if you are the West Virginia University mascot, the Mountaineer, they call you a bunch of things if they have no sense of humor, no hesitancy to be politically correct, no understanding of the hunting heritage of the Mountain State and no clue.

Here is what happened. Jonathan Kimble, a Pendleton County boy and the WVU Mountaineer mascot, used his musket, yep, the one you hear roar right after Tony Caridi proclaims "touchdown West Virginia," to shoot and kill a bear during the Mountain State's hunting season for that animal.

Well, as we all know, if you pass gas in the wrong place and get filmed tilting and grimacing it will go on YouTube. News gatherers such as Yahoo and Bing and MSN and others scour YouTube for these kinds of things and play them up on their web pages as if a lasting peace accord in the Middle East had taken place.

The National Enquirer must be highly PO’d. So-called cyber news sources such as these have usurped that publication's tawdry approach to news, planting it daily before computer users' eyeballs.

Now instead of NE being the source for “Dog takes kid for walk,” or “Missing grandmother found in freezer,” or “German shepherd drives pickup truck,” you can find those kinds of announcements every day on the “pitter” as my grandson called it when he was a little fellow.

Anyway, that's what happened to Jonathan. His hunt got on YouTube.

The mascot’s only mistake was in being true to tradition and wearing buckskins during the hunt. That brought a charge from the DNR for failing to wear blaze orange.

Might end up costing him $50 in magistrate court.

You know how you can't talk about Italians unless you are one? Well, I can because I'm half Italian.

You know how you can't talk about West Virginians unless you are one? Well I can.

Born in Weston, I have lived in Parkersburg, Morgantown and Short Gap. Sure, I’m a Maryland resident now, but everyone knows you can take the boy out of West Virginia but you can’t take West Virginia out of the boy.

Besides, I can see Knobley Mountain from my house.

My native son status allows me entrance to and mobility within the Kingdom of Kanawha without a passport.

My dad called it the Holy Land.

Our WVU mascots take their roles seriously. They live those roles. Nobody could have lived that role to the hilt any more than Jonathan.

In fact, to be the Mountaineer mascot, have a bear in a tree and the school’s smokepole in hand and not pull the trigger would be a sin.

My guess is that his next video will show Jonathan eating a snake smothered in sauteed ramps. Atta baby, JK.

Look, if Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish mascot got into fisticuffs would anybody even blink?

If LaSalle’s Explorer mascot went out and discovered a new river drainage there would probably be a reward.

If Washington State’s Cougar mascot started cavorting with younger men, who would care?

If Utah State’s Aggies mascot planted crops in a field... so what?

If Idaho’s Vandals mascot spray painted graffiti on a bridge, well?

If Wyoming’s Cowboys mascot herded a bunch of dogies to their new home there would be a pat on the back. Yipee ki-yay.

If Southern California’s Trojans mascot... better not go there.

Here is the statement about the incident from WVU’s John A. Bolt, director of university relations.

“Yes, the person in the video is Jonathan Kimble, the current Mountaineer, and the gun is the musket provided by the university.

“There are some provisions regarding the gun, but none that prohibit its use outside of university-sponsored functions or for hunting purposes. It is also worth noting that powder is used when the musket is discharged at public functions.

“While Jonathan’s actions broke no laws or regulations, the university has discussed this with him and he agrees that it would be appropriate to forego using the musket in this way in the future.”

Bullroar. During their reigns, Mountaineer mascots should be required to kill at least one deer using the school’s rifle. They should be instructed that any backstrap or jerky is not to be shared with Bob Costas.

I will say this. Bolt’s statement is an unapologetic one. Kimble’s scripted “I won't do it again” statement that followed was to be expected in this hypersensitive world in which we live.

I don’t anticipate that you’ll see many Don Rickles reruns nowadays.

You just can't get any more West Virginia than a guy named Kimble from the Potomac Highlands, dressed in buckskin, standing over a bear he just shot with a black powder musket.

In fact, I think it is kind of heavenly, almost.

Let’s gooooooo, Mountaineers.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at