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World Elk Calling Championships to Rock Fort Worth

MISSOULA, Mont.˜Grunting, growling, squealing and bellowing˜sometimes at rock-and-roll decibels˜the best elk callers on the planet are headed to Fort Worth, Texas, to vie for a world title.

The boisterous competition will be held as part of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation‚s 25th Annual Elk Camp & Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Expo, March 5-8, 2009, at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Dozens of youngsters, women and men, including reigning and former world champs, will compete in the RMEF/Leupold 2009 World Elk Calling Championships.

Leupold, a new sponsor for the competition, is Leupold & Stevens Inc., an Oregon-based optics company with quality products for hunters, shooters, wildlife observers, military and law enforcement.

The annual competition is divided into six divisions: Pee Wee (age 10 and under), Youth (age 11-17), Natural Voice (no calling devices allowed), Women‚s, Men‚s and Professional (sponsored competitors). Contestants perform a required series of calls imitating the natural vocalizations of elk. Official judges include wildlife biologists, naturalists, hunters, guides and outfitters.

Preliminary rounds will be Fri., March 6, at 8:30 a.m. Final rounds begin Sat., March 7, at 9:00 a.m., followed by an awards ceremony.

„This contest is always a spectacle, always entertaining. The Pee Wee Division is especially fun. Last year the competition was covered by the New York Times, which led to a surge in international attention. I can‚t wait to see what happens next in Fort Worth,‰ said Beth Shipley, who directs the event for the Elk Foundation.

The World Elk Calling Championships began 20 years ago as the brainchild of RMEF volunteers Fred McClanahan, Jr. of Fort Collins, Colo., and Ron Dube of Wapiti, Wyo. Both are still involved. McClanahan coordinates competition and Dube serves as emcee.

Along with the RMEF/Leupold 2009 World Elk Calling Championships, the expo will fill the Fort Worth Convention Center with elk hunting seminars, displays of record elk, kids‚ activities, auctions and an exhibit hall filled with art, gear, firearms and outfitted hunting and fishing opportunities. It‚s all a showcase and fundraiser for one of the nation‚s premier conservation organizations. The Elk Foundation recently topped 5.4 million acres of elk habitat conserved or enhanced.

Daily admission is $12 per person or $25 per family, and free for kids 5 and under.

Show hours: Thurs., March 5, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Fri., March 6, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Sat., March 7, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Sun., March 8, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.