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Vandenberg is smarter than the average bear

Susan Denk, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

James Vandenberg is a starting quarterback in the Big Ten. He is studying human physiology at the University of Iowa. He is taking summer school classes. And this season he is adjusting to a new offensive system with new coordinator Greg Davis.

The senior deserves a chance to relax.

Vandenberg, a Keokuk High School graduate, recently got away from it all, and brought back a monstrous reminder of his trip.

Vandenberg went on a hunting trip to northern Saskatchewan, a graduation trip for his sister, Olivia, who graduated from Iowa in May.

All five members of the party – Vandenberg, his dad Toby, Olivia, Hawkeyes wide receiver Nick Nielsen, and Great River Medical Center doctor Brandon Beauchanmp – harvested bears on the exursion. All but Olivia used bows – she used a muzzleloader.

“It was a fun trip,” said Toby Vandenberg. “We went five-for-five. James got the biggest.”

Hunting runs in the Vandenberg’s blood.

James Vandenberg’s great grandfather, Lewis James, killed a bear in the 1940s. He became famous for the feat as he was asked to speak about it by organizations throughout the area, earning the nickname ‘Bear.’ The elk mounted at the Elks Club in Burlington was killed by “Bear” Vandenberg, Toby said.

James and Olivia are not even the first of their siblings to come home with a bear. Brother Elliott killed a bear in another part of Saskatchewan when he was in middle school.

Like his great grandfather after whom he was named – Vandenberg’s full name is James Lewis – Vandenberg has earned some notoriety for his hunting prowess.

A photo of Vandenberg and his bear is circulating on the Internet. Iowa coach Brian Ferentz recently tweeted, “Another great day in Iowa City … just saw the resident bear hunter come into the building.”

Now back in Iowa, the Vandenberg clan is focusing on other feats.

Olivia, who earned a degree in 3D design, will decide her next move in life. She is considering going back to school for a Masters degree, but she might also take some time off for other pursuits.

“She wants to go to Australia and work on a ranch,” said Toby Vandenberg.

James Vandenberg is preparing for his senior season with the Hawkeyes.

“This spring he had a real heavy classload, and they have a new offense so he was real busy this spring,” his dad said. “He really likes the new offensive coordinator.”

Iowa opens its season Sept. 1, playing Northern Illinois at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

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