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Birds, elk add up to fun weekend

| Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Are you ready for a road trip?

There's a pretty interesting one on tap if you're into the outdoors. It offers the chance to see some hunting dogs at work, check out some wonderful wildlife artistry and get a glimpse of Pennsylvania's biggest game animal, one that's marking a milestone this year.

It all happens the weekend of Sept. 21 and 22. You'll spend half your time in Crawford County, the other half in Elk. Which day you spend where is up to you.

That weekend, in Linesville, Ducks Unlimited is holding its 32nd annual Pymatuning Wildlife Festival (pymatuningexpo.com).

Have you ever been there? I have, and it's a lot of fun.

Saturday is the bigger of the two days activity-wise. There's a parade for the kids, as well as the chance for them to help band some waterfowl. There's also a judged waterfowl carving contest and the competition to see which art print becomes the next Pennsylvania duck stamp. There are seminars on goose hunting, dog training and even trapping.

The day's big social event, though, is the “sportsmen's night out.” It's an auction and raffle event featuring everything from big-dollar items like guns, 3-D archery targets, ground blinds and fine art prints to lanyards, hats, stickers and more.

Sunday is the duck and goose calling contest for die-hard hunters.

In Elk County, meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is holding a number of events in celebration of 100 years of having elk in the state.

Elk are native to Pennsylvania, but had disappeared by the dawn of the 20th century. Talk of bringing them back began in 1912. In 1913, that work actually began. For $1,500, 50 elk were brought in from Yellowstone National Park. Another 22 were secured from preserves in state. All were released on Clearfield and Clinton counties.

A century later, we've got enough elk to be holding a hunting season — one that's produced some of the largest elk in the world over the last decade.

On Sept. 21 and 22, the commission will celebrate with a couple of special events.

On Saturday, you can tag along with Game Commission staff as they look for elk around the Dent's Run viewing area. There will be a program about elk that afternoon.

Later, and again the next day, there will be an “interactive musical program” celebrating elk in Troy. Attendees can win Woolrich gift cards.

The events are all part of a fall's worth of events centered around elk sponsored by the commission. You can see the full schedule at www.pgc.state.pa.us.

Of course, while you're in elk country, you need to stop at the Elk Country Visitors Center. It held its own festival last weekend, but there's plenty to see and do there.

You won't be alone at any time on this trip. The waterfowl festival isn't gigantic, but it's a big deal for the small community in which it's held. The elk range attracts around 100,000 people annually each year between Labor Day and Halloween, all looking to see and hear bugling elk.

But if it's camaraderie you want with like-minded outdoorsmen and women, both Linesville and the elk range will be fun places to be later this month.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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