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Wildlife on Display

 

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Brothers put wildlife on display
By AMY SEALTS
11.09.2003

Larry and Gary Clymer pose with some of their hunted animals.

   COLUMBUS GROVE — It looks unassuming. An old two-story brick building stands in the heart of downtown Columbus Grove marked only by a black and white paper sign on the door that reads “Clymer’s Wildlife Museum.” But pull open the door and visitors are greeted by towering grizzly bears, cougars in motion and a spectacular display of animals from around the world.


   Twin brothers Larry Clymer and Gary Clymer, both of Columbus Grove, created and own the museum which exhibits more than 70 species of fish and wildlife the pair has claimed on fishing and hunting excursions in four continents.

   The brothers have been hunting together 44 years. They got started as teenagers when their father, Bill, took them elk hunting out west.

   “It was the early 1950s and back in that era, no one traveled that far to go hunting. It was something else. The experience stuck with us,” Gary said.

   “Some people think hunting depletes the animal population when in fact it’s just the opposite,” Larry said. “For example, the deer population and pheasant population are larger now than when Christopher Columbus arrived.”

   They’ve hunted in Africa nine times, most recently in September, and last month hunted caribou and moose in British Columbia.

   In 1998, the Clymers decided to combine their collections of mounted animals and display them in a museum atmosphere. They spent three years remodeling a building on Columbus Grove’s Sycamore Street and opened Clymer’s Wildlife Museum in 2001. The museum doesn’t have regular hours but is open for free tours with an appointment. The first guest book the Clymers put out is already filled and guest names have filled nearly half of the second book. School classes, reunion groups, clubs and individuals are among those who have viewed the museum. The Clymers are on site when guests come to the museum and said they enjoy sharing the stories behind their animals.

   There’s the time they spent two hours reeling in a 12-foot blue marlin off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, or the time one caught a kangaroo in Australia. There’s the time a wounded lion hunted them in Africa and there’s Alaska, where they spent three days in a tent trying to outwait a storm.

   “I didn’t sleep for two and a half days in that tent. It was 12 degrees out but it felt like 20 below and I knew if the tent went down I’d die,” Larry said.

   Alaska hasn’t been kind to the Clymers. They’ve experienced brutal weather there with winds up to 100 miles an hour and quick-changing temperatures. It can be 60 degrees one minute and in three hours it’s zero degrees, they said. Getting to the hunting destinations in Alaska requires landing on water and on mountainsides in small airplanes. In the museum, Larry has a prop from an airplane that crashed while he was riding inside. On another occasion, he almost drowned in Alaska.

   “It takes me three or four years to forget about it and then I’m ready to go again,” Larry said. “If you go there, you know it’s going to be tough so you don’t want to come home without an animal.” On their most recent trip to Alaska one year ago, the Clymers claimed a 1,500-pound brown bear and are waiting its arrival to the museum.

   It can take two to four years to get a large animal mounted for display. The Clymers said the work of taxidermists is painstaking because they attempt to make the animal look as if it is still living. They are currently waiting on about 20 animals from taxidermists including a leopard, giraffe, hippopotamus, lion, hyena and the head and shoulders of an elephant Larry got last year. They plan to move all of their mounted fish to the second floor of the building to make room for the big cats and safari animals to come. They’ve been remodeling the second floor of the museum for about a year and are starting to mount some fish upstairs.

   The Clymers’ favorite place to hunt is Africa because it’s less expensive, they are treated well and said they rarely come home empty-handed. On these trips they use guides whose knowledge and experience earned them a professional hunter status. They said the professional hunter is with them at all times, helps them select hunting locations, find the largest animals and protects them from poachers.

   “The professional hunter carries an AK-47 with him. It’s very unnerving but you need them for protection,” Larry said.

   Africa is home to the largest animal either Clymer has caught, a 12,000 pound elephant, part of which they ate for dinner the same night as the hunt. Gary shot a lion but only wounded it and had to track it down in high grass.

   “You’d take one step, stop and listen, take one step, stop and listen. We were tracking him and he was tracking us, I was pretty nervous,” Gary said.

   The Clymers said they would recommend Africa to anyone, even for non-hunters. There are also safaris and wild animal photography trips to choose from.

   The pair is at a point in their hunting careers where they only take trophy animals, animals large enough to make it into record books. The guides and professional hunters they use on trips are able to help identify if animals are of trophy status. At $8,000 to $20,000 per trip, the Clymers want to bring home only the best.

   For others interested in big game hunting excursions, the Clymers recommend contacting the Safari Club which has groups in Lima, Toledo and Dayton. Contacts for the Lima Club are president George Diller, of Lima, or Mike Reynolds, of Westminster.

   Both men said their favorite thing about hunting is being in the wild with the animals.

   “You know you don’t always have to shoot. Sometimes it’s just about being there and seeing things most people never do,” Larry said.

   Next up for the brothers: bird hunting in Venezuela and fishing in the Amazon.

   For information about Clymer’s Wildlife Museum or to arrange a tour, please call 419-659-2418 or 419-659-2575.

 

Article by Amy Sealts, Courtesy of The Lima News

 

 

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