CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In today's YouTube and Facebook generation, anyone can become famous or infamous. All it takes is one viral video.
Jonathan Kimble found that out the hard way.
Kimble, West Virginia University's buckskin-wearing, rifle-toting Mountaineer mascot, lit up the Internet recently with a YouTube video that showed him killing a bear with the same muzzle-loading rifle he uses to rally WVU football fans.
Some viewers applauded Kimble's accomplishment. Others were horrified.
One of this newspaper's editors asked my opinion about the controversy. Here it is:
The moment Kimble purchased a hunting license, the state of West Virginia bestowed upon him the privilege to shoot a bear. In Pendleton County, where Kimble grew up, it's perfectly legal to use dogs to track and tree bears, and to shoot them out of the trees if necessary.
So when Kimble pulled the trigger on the university-issued .45-caliber caplock and dropped a not-very-large bear to the forest floor, he was engaging in a time-honored Mountain State pastime, a pastime fully sanctioned by the state.
However, to paraphrase former WVU football coach Bobby Bowden, Kimble was "clean, but not lily-white."
The videotape shows Kimble, dressed in camouflage, resting the rifle against a sapling for a steadier shot. A heartbeat or three after Kimble pulls the trigger, the camera pans to a nearby tree just in time to see the bear tumble from the tree and plummet to the leaf-covered ground.
Notice I wrote, "Kimble, dressed in camouflage." Bear hunters who use firearms must wear at least 400 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing - the equivalent of a jacket and a hat.
Someone in the West Virginia Natural Resources Police saw the YouTube video. Shortly afterward, an officer cited Kimble for failing to wear orange.