World-record mountain goat shot with bow by Kansas native in Alaska – The Topeka Capital-Journal

Posted: December 24, 2020 at 7:57 am

A Council Grove native who took down a mountain goat earlier this fall in southeast Alaska can now lay claim to a world record.

Kaleb Baird, 33, a Council Grove High School graduate, shot the massivebilly goat on Sept. 11 of this year. On Dec. 5, the Pope and Young Club convened a special panel of judges in Prescott, Ariz., to measure the potential world record, and the judges scored the goat at53 4/8 inches, making it the largest bow-harvested mountain goat in North America by just two-eighths of an inch.

The previous record was set just10months prior, on Feb. 15, by fellow Alaskan Rosey Roseland. Roseland'sgoat was taken onRevillagigedo Island in Alaska and measured53 2/8 inches officially.

"Congratulations to Kaleb Baird on his very special Rocky Mountain Goat, and the Pope and Young Club's new World Record," Eli Randall, director of records for the Pope and Young Club, said in a news release shortly after Baird'srecord goatwas scored.

Randall said Baird's goat was the third Rocky Mountain goat to meet the criteria to go through a special panel in the last 12 1/2 months.

Baird's goat will be on display at the Pope and Young's Biennial Awards Convention from April 14-17, 2021, in Reno, Nev. The event marks the 60th anniversary of the club.

Baird now joins Paslie Werth, of Cimarron, and Brian Butcher, of Andover, as recent Kansans to harvest world-class animals.

Werth, 14, set a Boone and Crockett world record with her 42-point whitetail buck shot Sept. 6, pulling in a net score of 271 4/8 inches following a mandatory 60-day drying periodto secure her deer's place in history as the largest nontypical whitetail harvested by a female in the world, as well as making her the youngest record holder in Kansas. The deer is currently the fifth-largest buck of any kind taken in state history, and broke Jamie Remmers' 23-year-old state record for largest nontypical whitetail harvested by a female at 257 1/8 inches.

"The Butcher Buck," meanwhile, is perhaps the most legendary rackin the state. The gnarly, 67-point nontypical spread unofficially measured an astounding 321 3/8 inches last October when it was taken in Chase County. The deer is set to be officially measured in 2022 and is thought to be good for the fourth-largest nontypical deer ever taken.

Kaleb's father Ken Baird, a 1969 Topeka High graduate who now lives in Manhattan, got him started on the sport at a young age when they lived in Council Grove.

"When he was knee-high to a grasshopper, I'd take him pheasant hunting," Ken said. "He started real young."

Council Grove also was where Kaleb got his start in bowhunting, as he would go deer hunting each year. But the Bairds soon began to expand their journeys as Ken started working in Alaska.

"I had a fishing boat for quite a few years up in Alaska and I thought I'd start taking him up there in southeast Alaska, and he just has always loved to hunt," Ken said. " ... How I got started up in Alaska is when I graduated from Topeka High, I went to the University of Alaska, and I met a bunch of guys up there. Always kept going back up there."

He said there's nothing else quite like the wilderness in the 49th state.

"They call it the Last Frontier, and it really is," Ken said. "It's beautiful country."

Kaleb joined his father in the Alaska fishing industry in 2014, and would go back and forth from Council Grove for nearly fiveyears before moving up to Petersburg, Alaska, early last year as a full-time resident. He said he mainly fishes commercially for salmon.

After gaining residency, Kaleb put in for a lottery permit for a "pretty unique" mountain goat herd. About 150 hunters applied for the permit last year, and the stategave out just two billy tags. And as luck would have it, Kaleb got a tag.

Mountain goat season in Alaska runs Aug. 1 through the end of the year, meaning he had some time to plan his goat hunt.

Between COVID-19, his hectic work schedule and the uncertain weather, however, Kaleb couldn't line anybody up to go with him, so he decided to go alone in the second week of September.

That meant when he finallydid shoot his trophy billy goat in September, he had a long haul to get it back home a journey that lasted about almost three days in bear country, according to Kaleb's father.

Kaleb, who lives on a remoteisland in the southeast part of Alaska, had to get a water transporter to get to the even more remote hunting area a stretch of mainland just north of Ketchikan. He said the ride was about two hours from his island.

He hiked up the mountain with about eight days of supplies on his back.

"I hadn't been in this country before," Kaleb said. "I'd talked to some biologists and guys who had hunted it years and years ago. This hunt was closed for a lot of years and this was the reinitiation, I guess, was these two billy tags they allowed for this year.

"I didn't really know what to expect."

On the fourth day, Kaleb spotted his goat. It took him about a half-day to get up the mountain to where he needed to be. By the time he got where the goat was when he started, it had already relocated, meaning he had to keep moving.

"I did find him and another smaller billy together late in the afternoon when I was about to give up," Kaleb said. "It worked out, I just kind of stumbled into him at 30 yards. Put a good shot on him, and he decided he was going to dive off into a big avalanche chute and dropped about seven- or eight-hundred foot in elevation probably in a matter of seconds."

It took Kaleb a couple hours to get down to the goat after it fell. Once he reached it, he was able to quarter it up and pack away the meat. In Alaska, he said, you've got to salvage all the edible meat, which includes "neck meat, tenderloins, backstraps, ribs, everything."

"Then the real work began," Kaleb said.

From where the goat ended up after getting shot in the avalanche chute, Kaleb said, there was another 600- to 700-foot decline that was quite treacherous.

"I knew I couldn't go back up the hill with him, my only option was to go down, but I didn't know exactly what was below," Kaleb said. "So I took him all at once. What I did was, I basically just tied all the meat bags together and I would kind of throw them in front of me a little ways and then I'd step down a couple steps and lower the meat down."

To make matters worse, he was trying to get down the mountain in darkness, as he had reachedthe goat around5 p.m. and the sun set around 7:30 p.m. He began running out of steam, and decided to set up camp for the night on a ledge with his meat. The next morning, when he resumed his descent, he was met with an unexpected visitor.

"That's when I came across a black bear that had found the carcass up above me from the night before," Kaleb said. "The chute was super narrow and steep, and it was inevitable that we were going to cross paths.

"But he didn't give me too much of an issue. I let him know I was around and he went on his way and I went on mine."

Before his trip, Kaleb had joked with his friends that he was going to shoot a record goat.

While it may seem like a premonition, it was actually just an educated guess.

"This particular goat herd, it had been known back 20, 30 years ago for some of the biggest billies to come out of the state of Alaska," Kaleb said. "And then they closed the hunt. It was kind of an isolated herd that they wanted to do some studies on and monitor for a while. There was some logging going on in the area and a few other reasons.

"This herd just has abnormally large horn genetics, so going in I knew with the caveat it hadn't been huntedin 16, 18 yearsit was kind of a double whammy that the potential was there for a really big billy."

As this was his first real mountain goat hunt, he said he was by no means a field judge and really didn't know when he saw the goat that it was a potential world record. He said the smaller billy that was with his goat gave him some perspective as far as it being a good-sizedgoat, but other than that he didn't know for sure.

However, before he went on his hunt, he had to study up, taking an online course on identification and studying online what he was looking for in a trophy goat.

"It was obvious this billy had some incredible mass when I first found him," Kaleb said. "... I had a pretty good idea this was a pretty substantial billy."

And as massive as the goat's horns were, they were actually damaged a little by the fall, as Kaleb said it clippedabout an inch off the right side.

Aside from mountain goats, Alaska has a variety of big game species to pursue, including bear, moose, Sitka black-tailed deer and elk.

And as luck would have it, Kaleb actually drew an elk tag this year, as well as his goat tag.

"Because of this goat hunt, that was kind of first and foremost," Kaleb said. "It took up most of my free time. I'd love to get another crack at hunting elk here, it's kind of neat. It's a really tough area to hunt."

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World-record mountain goat shot with bow by Kansas native in Alaska - The Topeka Capital-Journal

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