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West Virginia bars Mountaineers mascot from hunting with his musket

By Matt Hinton | Blogger

On the field, West Virginia's Mountaineer mascot looks like a real mountaineer in head-to-foot buckskin, topped by a coonskin cap. Off the field, he can shoot like one, too, as current mascot John Kimble proved this week when he used the university-issued musket that comes with the getup to take down a first black bear on a hunting trip with friends and family in Pendleton County, W.Va. Just a little truth in advertising, right?

Maybe. But when proof of the kill showed up on YouTube and Kimble's Twitter feed, the university didn't exactly appreciate such a deadly display of authenticity with school-owned property. According to the Associated Press:

"While Jonathan Kimble'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," said WVU spokesman John Bolt.

Kimble said Friday that he's been hunting all his life and this was the first black bear he's ever killed. He said all his friends have congratulated him for that.

"Hunting can be a controversial topic," Kimble said. "I apologize to any of those who took offense to the video. It definitely wasn't my intent to offend anybody."

Not that some people aren't put off by the sport, but it's more likely the school is more worried about potential liability issues if Kimble, 24, or a future mascot were ever to open fire in a fashion that does violate laws or regulations than offending anyone.

For his part, Kimble told the AP that taking the musket along on hunting trips has become something of a tradition among WVU mascots, one he has enthusiastically embraced before: "Other Mountaineers have gone and shot multiple deer with it before. I've taken it with me deer hunting before, also."

At games and other university-sanctioned events, the musket is loaded with black powder to create a realistic bang without live ammunition. The Mountaineer is chosen annually from a handful of student applicants.

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