Franklin Man Calls Elk Hunt ‘Once in a Lifetime Experience’

| November 12, 2017

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – Shawn Latshaw decided it had been long enough since he had attempted to draw an elk hunting license in Pennsylvania, and there’s no doubt he’s glad he did this year.

Latshaw, of Franklin, filled out his application, and not long afterward, he received word that he had been one of the fortunate 125 people to have his name pulled from more than 30,000 applications.

On Monday, October 30, Latshaw dropped a massive bull elk with one shot from his Remington Model 700 7MM STW caliber rifle.

The bull elk, which featured an 8×7 rack, turned out to be the heaviest elk taken during the 2017 season. It weighed an estimated 833 pounds after field dressing, putting the monster bull at more than 900 pounds live weight.

The scouting trips and that day of the hunt gave Latshaw and his family a lifetime of memories.

“It’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Latshaw said. “Spending weekends up there scouting with my guide, then being able to down the bull with my daughter and having most of my family join me afterward made it an unforgettable experience.”

Latshaw applied for an elk license for about the first five years of the hunt when it began in 2001; however, he – like so many – didn’t have his name picked.

He hadn’t applied for a number of years but decided the time was right. Latshaw had retired from the Pa. State Police in 2016, so he had a little extra time.

“I didn’t care if I drew for a bull or a cow tag, and I didn’t even mark a preference for which zone,” Latshaw said.

After the August 19 drawing, Latshaw had received a message on Facebook from Jeff Colwell, the man who ended up guiding him to his big bull.

Not knowing Colwell at the time, Latshaw ignored the message. Then, Latshaw’s wife, Hilary, who is currently a State Trooper at the Franklin barracks, got a message from Colwell and relayed it to her husband.

“We got in touch, met, and decided to hunt together. He also has a law enforcement background, being a deputy conservation officer, so I was confident we’d have a safe, ethical hunt,” Latshaw said.

Latshaw began spending weekends with Colwell, who runs Hicks Run Outfitters, scouting in Zone 3. The area is mostly public land, a mix of State Game Lands and State Forest Lands that straddles eastern Elk County and western Cameron County. It’s one of the wildest parts of Pa., lacking paved roads and permanent buildings.

“It was a great experience spending fall weekends up there, hearing them bugle, watching them during the rut,” Latshaw said.

Once the first day dawned windily and with rain on the way, Latshaw, his 22-year-old daughter, Alexa, and Colwell worked their way up a natural gas pipeline right-of-way that led to some fields.

“Jeff had found an area where the elk were feeding on acorns, so we headed there,” Shawn said. “It wasn’t long before we saw him. We watched him, trying to size up how big his antlers were.”

“I asked Lexa what she thought, and she said ‘Shoot it.’”

Shawn fired one round from his 7 MM and the bull went about 40 yards before dropping.

“As we walked up to him, it just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Shawn said. “It was really something to see.”

Shawn called Hilary, who packed up their three-year-old son, Teague, and headed to the hunt site where they all hiked up to the elk.

Shawn Latshaw pictured with his family.

Shawn Latshaw pictured with his family.

“Having them all there, only my other daughter couldn’t be there, was really something to be able to share. We all took a certain amount of pride in the accomplishment,” Shawn said. “Hearing my son say ‘Daddy, you did good’ was just priceless.”

“We just feel very fortunate and blessed to be able to have this experience.”

The antlers on Latshaw’s bull initially scored 422, making it an excellent candidate for the state record book as well as the Boone and Crocket book, which tracks national big-game trophies.

Part of the antler scoring process is a 60-day drying period, after which the rack will be measured for its official score.

Shawn Latshaw's Elk

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