March 11, 1926 - June 18, 2017
This special issue of World Conservation Force Bulletin
, expanded from four to six pages, is wholly devoted to Bert Klineburger, Founding Board Member of Conservation Force, who passed away on June 18, 2017 at the age of 91.
Bert had no equal in the hunting world. He is described as a mentor, amazing pioneer, giant among giants, icon, a true legend, adventurer, explorer, hunter, but also as a gentleman, humble, and good soul. "A life like his is no longer remotely possible," wrote one admirer. He was the Father of International Hunting, and he died on Father's Day.
Bert was the foremost pioneer (a credit shared with his brothers) of the tourist safari hunting industry that exists today. He opened hunting in countless countries east and west and remained the biggest broker in many of those countries for decades. He was also a champion of Conservation Force. For the last 20 years he made no bones about stating that "Conservation Force is the most important organization for us (international) hunters."
After opening destinations across the globe, Bert witnessed the legislative and regulatory burdens on import of trophies grow from the first required export and import permits to an extreme proof of enhancement requirement for those permits and for a growing number of species. There was no ESA or CITES when he opened hunting destinations. He voluntarily assisted Conservation Force to laboriously establish or reestablish trophy import permits after trade became prohibited for game species ranging from argali to black rhino. (Export and import of listed species without a permit became prohibited/illegal; the underlying requirements for those permits grew exponentially; and the number of listed species and subspecies has become phenomenal.)
Like putting and then keeping sheep on the mountain (the Wild Sheep Foundation mission), Bert went from opening hunting across the globe to keeping it open for the past few decades. We loved him dearly. As well as "A GIANT in the international safari industry" he "was such a humble, good soul." (Fiona Capstick).
When Bert learned that his cancer was terminal he called me and said Conservation Force would need a new director of the board. I told him we were at his service if he needed anything at all, that we loved him and nothing was more important to us in the world if he needed us for anything. He would have none of it. He would not impose on us or distract from what we do for hunters. Shortly afterwards, he nominated Renee Snider as a board member, while continuing his own membership to the end. I have since learned that Renee called Bert twice a week. She was supposed to call him on 18 June, the date of his death. Instead, Bert called her the evening before. He sounded alert and strong as he always did. Bert told her there was no need for her to call him on Father's Day as she had planned for the next day. Renee was the first to make a conservation donation in Bert's honor upon his death.
Here at Conservation Force, we are so very proud to have known and worked with Bert, a pioneer in hunting, a pathfinder in conservation, a cornerstone at Conservation Force and a dear friend. Ooga Ooga mooskwa
, BERT. - John J. Jackson, III.
Postscript: For more about Bert's life and amazing accomplishments to the hunting industry and wildlife conservation, visit the following URLS: http://www.historylink.org/File/8306
Honoring a Legacy
In April, more than 15 members of Shikar Safari Club International (Shikar) traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas, to honor their friend, mentor and fellow member and to present him with a very special award. Though Bert had received numerous awards, such as the SCI Hall of Fame Award and Weatherby Lifetime Achievement Award, he had declined awards for over a decade when nominated. Nevertheless, the Board of Directors and Past Presidents of Shikar by unanimous resolution awarded Bert the LEGACY AWARD for his 54 years of professional membership, outstanding contributions to the club, outstanding contributions to conservation and the hunting world, outstanding contributions to education in the hunting traditions, outstanding contributions to the protection of the outdoors and for outstanding hunting achievements. This is only the second time the award has been given out in the 65-year history of Shikar, the oldest safari club in the world.
VIP Shikar group that delivered Bert his LEGACY AWARD in April.
In Celebration of a Life Unequaled(John J. Jackson, III, Note: Fiona Capstick was so taken with Bert's passage I asked her to write this special eulogy:)
The international hunter/conservationist community recently took leave of the legendary Bert Klineburger, who passed away in Washington State on 18 June after a battle with cancer.
I first had the privilege of meeting Bert through my late husband, Peter Capstick, well over 30 years ago at a major hunting convention in the States. This friendship deepened when I married Adelino Serras Pires, one of the great and courageous personalities of the African safari industry, who died in August 2015.
He and Bert were like brothers for almost 50 years. Together they were responsible for a major boost to the safari industry in Mozambique in the late 1960s and early 1970s when astronauts such as Charlie Duke and James Lovell and other truly illustrious personalities from the USA such as General Jimmy Doolittle of Tokyo Raid fame and Roy Weatherby came out on safari to hunt with Adelino. He was the international marketing force of the largest safari company in all Africa at the time - the fabled Safrique. Bert became an honorary director, such was his value.
Bert's unimpeachable integrity, his modesty and limitless kindness made a huge impression on Adelino, who was also of the old school where your word was your bond and lucrative safari contracts were sealed with a mere handshake. Bert's vast personal experience of the hunting grounds of the world and his remarkable pioneering role in helping open up country after country cannot be equaled now. Adelino always spoke of how honored he felt when Bert wrote the Foreword to his autobiography The Winds of Havoc: A Memoir of Adventure and Destruction in Deepest Africa
. Both men had shared triumphant as well as dreadful times in the safari industry. Bert was one of the prime forces who helped galvanize the international hunting community to intervene and save Adelino's life and the lives of his group when they were abducted, tortured and imprisoned in the mid-1980s in Tanzania and Mozambique. Adelino spoke to the end of his days of how much he revered Bert's courage and tenacity. Both men were in regular contact until Adelino's death.
I shall always remember Bert and celebrate his exceptional life. He kept in close touch with me after Adelino died, and I shall treasure Bert's caring, genuine soul. He made history; he made friends across the world; he made a difference to the international hunter/conservationist cause; he made us all grateful to have known him.
Rest in Peace, dearest Bert.
Republic of South Africa
Remembering an Icon and Trailblazer(John J. Jackson, III, Note: Bob Kern's The Hunting Consortium is perhaps the largest international hunting broker today. This is what he had to say about Bert:)
By Bob Kern
One of the greatest hunter-explorers of our generation, Bert Klineburger, passed away on 18 June, after a long battle with cancer. Bert was a close friend of mine and a true icon in the hunting industry. Inducted into the Safari Club International Hall of Fame, and holder of the Weatherby Lifetime Achievement Award, Bert and his brother Chris opened more countries to international hunters than anyone in history - a feat that will not likely be equaled in modern times.
They explored the vast regions of Russia, then the Soviet Union, and opened Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, all of which had never been hunted by westerners since the colonial period. He and Chris also opened China to sport hunting in 1986-87. Bert hunted the most remote regions of the world, on every continent, often where few had traveled before him.
He started two safari companies, one in Uganda in 1961 and one in the C.A.R. in 1975. He was one of the only hunters in history to be granted hunting permits in Israel. Bert hunted many places we will never be able to hunt, including polar bear in Alaska, tigers and gaur in India, jaguars in Brazil and Paraguay, and takin in Bhutan, by invitation of the king. He, along with his brothers Chris and Gene, built the largest hunting enterprise in the world, based in Seattle. Among their clients were some of the most famous hunters of the 20th century.
The Hunting Consortium worked closely with Klineburger Worldwide Travel, as the travel branch of the Klineburger business was known, in the 1980s and early 1990s, serving their clients in Europe, where we were based, and sending our clients to their programs in Asia. Bert gave us lots of good advice when we formed our own organization in Russia and Central Asia in 1993-94.
In his later years, Bert was keenly aware of the threats to international hunting posed by irrational government policies and the ever more vocal protectionist lobby. He worked tirelessly as a member of the Board of Directors of Conservation Force, since its founding by John Jackson, III, in 1997. His vast experience and worldwide network of friends and contacts was very useful in boosting the effectiveness of this most famous hunting advocacy organization.
Bert, we will miss you! - Bob Kern
Ooga Ooga Mooska - A Farewell at Bear Lake Lodge
Bert's dear friends at Bear Lake Lodge, Alaska, scattered his ashes in a touching ceremony in June. Bert booked brown bear hunts and fishing trips at Warren Johnson's renown Bear Lake for decades. Bert's clients were his friends and could not help but love him. Bert regularly accompanied the Potterfield and Studer families to Bear Lake Lodge. Here is an excerpt from Brenda Potterfield's speech at the ash scattering ceremony:
Bert is now sitting around a big campfire with hunting buddies that have gone on before him, with Brigitte by his side. As he picks up his guitar, Brigitte rolls her eyes ands says 'Oh, Bertram,' and he starts to sing his favorite song--- Squaws Along The Yukon
Ooga ooga mooska, which means that I love you
If you'll be my baby, I'll ooga ooga mooska you
Then I take her hand in mine and set her on my knee
The squaws along the Yukon are good enough for me
Carry me back to old Alaska
The squaws along the Yukon are good enough for me---
Rest in peace, dear friend.
Then a passage sent by Fiona was read:
As your spirit now soars free and blessed into eternal rest, know that you will never be forgotten. Peter, Adelino and I all revered your role in the hunter/conservationist cause. Be at peace, treasured friend and mentor. - Fiona Capstick
Then Stan Studer said a few words about Bert's ability to bring people together….
Larry and Brenda Potterfield of MidwayUSA, Bert, Warren Johnson, Sara Potterfield, and grandchildren Jay and Eliza at Bear Lake Lodge, June 2014.
Bert, no doubt singing "Ooga Ooga Mooska…." Meaning he loved Indian squaws along the Yukon River of Alaska! Picture by Brenda Potterfield of MidwayUSA.
He Lived Like No Other
by Chris Klineburger
Bert Klineburger, an icon in the hunting fraternity, went on to The Happy Hunting Grounds June 18, 2017 at age 91. Bert and his two brothers Gene and Chris built an outdoor empire only seen once in world history. It all started when they purchased Jonas Brothers of Seattle taxidermy studio in the early 1950's where Bert had already been working since 1947. In those post WWII years when sport hunting just began as we know it today, they became involved in most everything that happened in hunting and conservation from then on.
Having contacts with the relatively few outfitters worldwide, they became the information center on where and how to book a hunt---a sort of guide referral service. This led to starting the first booking agency exclusively for hunters, fishermen and adventurers. By the mid 50's they went to Anchorage, then Fairbanks and Nome, where they expanded their taxidermy services to include native arts and crafts, fur apparel, including Eskimo-style parkas and fine furs, fur skin trading and a tannery for all types of furs and hunters' trophy skins. This all under the name of Jonas Bros of Alaska. During those early years, Bert collected most of the North American game species. He was the first to take muskox, and he also took the all-time world record Alaska-Yukon moose for a 17-year span.
When Uganda received its independence in the early 60s, the Klineburgers partnered with them to establish Africa's first affordable safaris. Bert led the first group of six hunters on the ground-breaking program, while brother Chris lived there developing Jonas Bros of Africa taxidermy and forwarding depot. Tanzania received its independence the following year, and they requested the Klineburgers' partnership. Bert led the first safari in their program, which was the opening of the Selous Game Reserve. Bert's love for Africa blossomed, and he went on to directing and advising other African countries on their newly developed safari programs. Ultimately in 1975, he left the Seattle company, leaving it in the hands of brother Chris, and moved to Central African Republic, where he managed the exclusive government safari operation S.A.C.A.F. for 3½ years.
Knowing that hunting and conservation were two sides of the same coin, the Klineburgers were founding members of most conservation organizations. In 1966, the Klineburgers partnered with the Sportsmen's Clubs of Texas to establish the international conservation organization Game Conservation International (Game Coin). The first ever international convention was held in San Antonio, Texas, in the spring of 1966 and was widely attended by sportsmen and outfitters from around the world. The Klineburgers did a great deal of the promotion, supplied all the decoration of mounted trophies and were involved with the seminars. The brothers' services were offered to all ensuing clubs that began having conventions. They built an outdoor empire that helped bring the world's hunting fraternity together for the purpose of conserving the wildlife they so loved.
Africa in the early 60s was a launching pad for the Klineburgers, who set out to develop wildlife programs in the almost untouched rest of the world. Volumes could be written, but anyone hunting throughout Asia, Africa, South Pacific, South America, etc., would be following in the footsteps of the Klineburgers. During their many expeditions, they befriended all levels of renowned people, from kings to presidents, princes, heads of state, military leaders, astronauts, movie stars, industry leaders, outfitters and the finest hunters in the world. Their Water Hole (large bar and conference room) was always open to all at their place of business.
Bert was an outstanding director and supporter of Conservation Force and a member of many clubs, including Shikar Safari Club International, International Professional Hunters Association, African Professional Hunters Association, Wild Sheep Foundation, Dallas Safari Club, National Rifle Association, Elk Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and more. In 1988, Bert was inducted into the Safari Club International Hunter Hall of Fame, and in 2000 he received the Weatherby Award of Special Recognition. His most recent award was the dearest to his heart. On April 20, 2017, a host of about 30 officials and members of the Shikar Safari Club came to Corpus Christi, Texas, and made the presentation of the Shikar Safari Club International Legacy Award. That was only the second time the award was ever given in the history of the club.
Bert Klineburger lived like no other. His love for the outdoors and wildlife led him to help blaze trails so that others may enjoy the sport of hunting throughout the world. His life was full of adventure and camaraderie with fellows of the hunting and conservation community. He is survived by his two brothers Chris and Gene and three daughters Jody, Jan and Barbara and their families.
Bert, John Jackson, Bertrand Des Clers, with Dr. Franks and Dr. Packer
Bert and John giving the Lion Conservation Award to Eric Pasanisi, largest operator in Tanzania.
Bert and John Jackson in Texas.