Editors Blog

Heaven Got a Good One in Gary Clancy

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They say your value as a human being is how you treat others. If that’s truly the case, Gary Clancy was worth billions.

If you’ve read Deer & Deer Hunting — or any other quality hunting publication — over the years, you surely recognize this name. He was among the best of the best. Not only a good writer, but someone who actually “did” it. He was one of the best hunters in North America, bar none, and a Vietnam vet to boot. Gary Clancy was a true American classic. I’m sure God still makes good men, but you will be hard pressed to find many like him.

I first met Clancy — he insisted on being called that — in 1995 when I was a pup in this industry. It was in a deer camp in Illinois, hosted by Jerry Peterson of Woods Wise Products. There probably were a dozen of us writers and editors in camp, and we were hunting the cusp of the rut in Brown County — a mecca for big deer. I was too young and proud to admit I had but one bow-kill to my credit. That lack of experience showed, as I showed up to camp with just five arrows, an old Darton compound bow, and a leather shooting glove. Yes, I was still shooting fingers.

Within a day and a half, I had lost all of my arrows shooting at rut-crazed bucks. I didn’t have a single hair on the ground to show for my efforts, either.

I guess there were some unkind words expressed behind my back among some of the other hunters. Clancy didn’t partake in any of it. Oh, he did give me some good-natured ribbing to my face, but he also gave me a half-dozen of his own arrows, a hearty pat on the back, and some much-needed confidence. “Back at ’em, kid!” was all he said, with a huge smile.

We instantly became friends, and he helped me grow as a hunter and a man.

Clancy died this week at the young age of 68. Cancer got him — a disease he eventually acquired years after being exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam war. I’m sure the time spent overseas was largely responsible for his ever-present smile, booming laugh and all-around good-natured attitude toward life.

Gary Clancy was a man of acceptance. A man of gratitude. A man of not worrying a single minute over the extraneous BS that modern folk heap on themselves day after day.

Rest in peace, sir. You will be dearly missed.

— Dan

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