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Gary & Larry Clymer: Eying the Wild Prize

 Our Generation’s Magazine

January 2004

By Jennifer Keat-Beck


The sweat trickles down his back, heart racing, ears and eyes poised and ready for any inclination of movement….movement that could predicate a pending attack.  The wounded lion is out there….searching, smelling, hunting, but Gary Clymer is ready.  

Gary and his twin brother Larry are in Africa.  Nearly 50 years of hunting training are now culminated into one moment, as Gary slowly steps through the lion grass, tall grass that is the same color as a lion’s mane.  Gary has shot this lion twice, but has not yet killed him. Adrenaline rushes as Gary gets closer and closer…… 

This story could have had a tragic ending, but fortunately it didn’t.   It’s one of many stories that leave a person’s hair turned up and eyes wide in amazement…being out in the wilderness, just breaths away from the difference between life and death. Gary and Larry Clymer have experienced it many times.   

“We started hunting when we were 15 or 16 years old,” says Gary who, along with his brother, watched their dad and his hunting excursions as they grew.  The Clymers were raised in Putnam County, where, like in most of northwest Ohio, hunting is popular and typical for any young man.  But for the Clymer family, hunting meant more than just heading out to the woods in search of a pheasant to shoot and bring home to eat.  While that was done many times in the Clymer home, these boys were being prepared for the next level.  When they graduated from high school in 1956, their father planned a special trip.  He loaded up the guns and took his sons out West, to experience something new when it came to hunting.  They went to Wyoming.  

“See those five antelope right there?” Gary points to a neatly aligned group of mounted animals on a nearby wall.  “Two of those were shot during that trip.”  

The antelope were just a beginning.   

An old, two story brick building on Sycamore Street near downtown Columbus Grove is where one will find the antelope these days.  In 2001, after several years of renovations, the brothers opened the Clymer Wildlife Museum.    After the trip to Wyoming, Gary and Larry knew they’d found a hobby that would last a lifetime.    From Utah to Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, even Mexico, these brothers have spanned the North American continent with their guns.  They’ve returned home with their prizes…now mounted on display for anyone to enjoy.  

The entrance door is the passage to what many may consider another world.  Three full size bears, a grizzly bear, a polar bear, and a brown bear, are the welcoming crew.  With mouths wide open, sharp teeth flashing and claws in attack mode, these bears, shot by the Clymer’s good friend, Art Smith, look like they’re ready to greet visitors with a huge bear hug, however not the soft and fluffy kind.  

Gary and Larry recant memories of their own bear hunts.  A smaller grizzly bear is nearby in a poised position, protecting its prey.  “There’s certainly a difference if it’s a one shot kill, or if it’s coming after you, “ Gary says as Larry laughs.  Both men know what’s it’s like to be charged by a strong, angry, wild animal.   

“Whatever happens, happens to you.” Says Larry.   “You can’t jump in a vehicle or climb in a tree, a lot of times there are no trees around….It’s up to you.  You have to shoot him to live.  It’s survival….but it doesn’t bother me that much.   

Apparently not.  

Gary and Larry have been to Alaska nine times and Africa three times.  They can’t begin to tell you how many times their lives have been threatened, but aren’t scared about heading out again.  Like in many things, there is danger but the Clymer brothers have instead focused on success.  The Clymer Museum offers more then 70 examples of that success.  A mountain lion rests, poised in its cave.  A full sized lynx attacks a grouse.  A barracuda joins several fish on one wall…sharp teeth blazing.  In another corner, two arctic wolves playfully “run along.”  A full sized zebra pelt is displayed on the south side of the exhibit room.  A collection of animals from Africa claims the north: impala, waterbuck, eland, kudu, bushbuck.  These are just the beginning, both brothers say. 

In September (2003), they enjoyed their third trip to Africa and then spent time in British Colombia.  That means there are more animals currently at the taxidermist.  By mid year, the museum will be home to a hyena, leopard, giraffe, hippopotamus, lion and elephant and others yet to come.   

The Clymers hunt with professional guides and trackers.  Their expeditions are well planned and typically span for a few weeks.  They’re not out to hunt and kill just anything they can find.  At this point in their lives, they hunt for the “prize.”  There have been many times when they’ve let animals go by.  They only shoot what they plan to keep and then share all they can.  “In Africa, every part of the elephant gets used,” says Larry who shot an elephant on the same hunting trip where Gary shot a lion.  Now, they’re using their hobby as a way to educate others.  

The Clymer Wildlife Museum is open by appointment to groups, families, or even individuals who are interested in learning more about the animals that come from all around the world.  

For more information, call either (419) 659-2418 or (419) 659-2575.

  For more information on hunting, check into the Safari Club.  The Northwestern Ohio chapter of the Safari Club Foundation meets regularly and has about 95 members since its inception in 2000.  Contact chapter president George Diller at (419) 222-2424 or dillerg@nationwide.com for more information or log onto http://www.nwosci.com/ or www.safariclubfoundation.org  


Article by Jennifer Keat-Beck , Courtesy of Our Generation's Magazine & The Lima News


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