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Austin Jones, a 16 year old first-time bear hunter from Mayville and representative to the Michigan Natural Resource Commission Youth Conservation Council, is one very happy young hunter. The skilled outdoorsman harvested a 140 pound black bear with a crossbow on the second day of the 2013 Bear Season while hunting in the Upper Peninsula’s Newberry Unit. The hunt took place on State-owned land, making Austin’s hunt an authentic outdoor experience in the wilderness of northern Luce County.
Although he is confined to a wheelchair and breathes with the aid of a respirator, Austin’s success did not come easy to him. He watched the terrain and hunted the bruin for a solid four hours. When the bear finally came to his bait, the youngest Jones killed the animal quickly and cleanly with a single, well-placed shot from his crossbow at a distance of about 20 yards.
When asked what he was thinking after firing the crossbow and seeing the bear disappear over a nearby rise, Austin replied, “I knew I hit him good and knew he was dead on the other side of the hill.” Dad Jason was able to carry his son to the area where the bear fell, about 80 yards from the blind and into the thick U.P. cover.

His father, Jason, and a brother, Jason, both were in the blind during the hunt. Brother Jason video-taped the hunt while his father tended to any health-care needs that might arise for Austin. The Jones’ enjoy hunting as a trio and deer hunt together annually, so the move into bear hunting was a natural next-step for this outdoor family.
Austin’s bear hunt was made possible by a number of contributors and supporters including Operation Injured Soldiers, North Branch’s American Legion Post “Wheel In Team 457” and the benefit 4 kids foundation of Michigan. Kip Cameron, a registered guide from Newberry and owner of Cameron’s Little Two Heart Bear Guide Service, donated guide services for the hunt. Austin’s kill tag was donated by Joe Westlake of Lapeer, Michigan, through a transfer-permit process available from the MDNR.
One final note: Austin, a senior at Millington High School and honor roll student, bagged the 140 pound bruin during the afternoon hunt on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, the eve of his 17th birthday. What an incredible birthday experience for this very determined and dedicated young hunter.
 

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