Meet Chris Klineburger, former world-renowned taxidermist, founding member of Safari Club International and pioneer in opening up hunting opportunities in several countries and remote areas of the world.
In the early 1950s, Chris Klineburger and his two brothers, Bert and Gene, took over a world-renowned taxidermy studio, Jonas Bros of Seattle. They soon became the world’s leader in taxidermy. The brothers were also involved in conducting the first international hunters’ convention in the United States, starting in the mid 1960s. Chris joined the Southern California Safari Club in Los Angeles where their company had numerous high profile hunters.
In 1971, member C.J. Mac McElroy had more universal ideas for a club, so Chris and a number of other members joined him in spinning off and forming the Safari Club of Los Angeles. They had a much broader concept of accomplishments and felt that “Los Angeles” was too restrictive, so in 1972 they changed the name to Safari Club International (SCI). Soon they moved the headquarters to Tucson, Arizona. In 1973, the Klineburger firm helped SCI launch their first convention in Las Vegas at the Riviera Resort by supplying mailing lists and promotional efforts. Chris and his firm was the only commercial booth at that maiden convention.
At the same time SCI began forming Chapters, with Los Angeles and Chicago becoming the first. McElroy encouraged Chris to start a Chapter in Seattle, so in 1974 Chris took it one step further and formed the Northwest Chapter, which included Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Canada and Alaska. Understandably, the Northwest Chapter spun off to be scores of SCI Chapters.
The Klineburger firm had a booth every year at the SCI Conventions until 1996 when Chris shut down his business in Seattle and retired. During that time, his firm made annual donations for the fundraising conventions. Also, Chris conducted a number of seminars at the conventions and wrote some articles for the Safari Magazine. He still belongs to the original Northwest Chapter where he is a life member and where he and his wife, Grace, spend their summer months. The rest of the year they live in Las Vegas where they are members of the Las Vegas SCI Chapter. Chris is also a Life member of SCI.
An offshoot from the Klineburger taxidermy firm was helping to establish hunting programs around the world, as well as arranging hunts for sports persons wishing to go to those destinations. Chris’ personal goal was to develop wildlife programs throughout Asia with emphasis on caprinea, wild sheep and goat species. Through his plan, The Sportsman Financed Wildlife Program, he helped open hunting destinations throughout the Soviet Union, China, Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal and Mongolia.
Chris’ contribution to wildlife conservation and hunting achievements were
recognized through the many awards and honors he received, including being inducted into the SCI Hunting Hall of Fame. He has donated many of his full-mounted specimens to the SCI International Wildlife Museum on Gates Pass Road in Tucson. Among other recognitions, Chris was the first to be inducted into the Mountain Hunter Hall of Fame and he was given the Weatherby Award for Outstanding Achievements.
In 1986, SCI hosted the World Hunting Congress, with exhibits from countries around the world. SCI called out to the Klineburger firm to do the USA Exhibit, which they gladly did at their own expense. The exhibit included over two dozen life-size specimens from the Arctic to the desert, including mountains for the sheep and goats.
Chris Klineburger chronicled his adventurous life in his autobiography “Gamemasters of the World,” a large volume with 300,000 words and 660 photos. He also authored a small book, “Conservation or Preservation,” an educational piece for everyone, especially the non-hunting establishment, including the media and legislators. It includes the African Wildlife Consultive Forum held annually in Africa that is conducted and sponsored by SCIF and whose membership includes over a dozen African countries.
When asked what SCI means to him, Chris had this to say; “Safari Club International has meant very much to me through the years. Having been a founding member, I have seen it mature from the Los Angeles Club where it was founded to an international club with chapters throughout the world, bringing sportsmen from countless communities everywhere to be involved in everything SCI is doing. SCI, without question, is the premier conservation organization, which is the passion of all sportsmen to ‘put more in than we take out.’ That has always been my goal and SCI has helped me accomplish my goal.”
To learn more about Chris Klineburger, you can google him or go to his website at www.gamemastersoftheworld.com.
To register to attend the 2020 SCI Hunters’ Convention in Reno, Nevada, February 5-8, click on the following link www.showsci.org/register-now.