A Petersburg resident has set a new world record for the largest mountain goat harvested by bow in North America. The hunt in Southeast Alaska was the first time Kaleb Baird had ever been out targeting a mountain goat. KFSK’s Angela Denning talked with him and has this story:
Before Kaleb Baird set off on his solo hunt, he did his homework. He had never been hunting for mountain goats before. But he grew up bow hunting deer and birds in Kansas. He knew the importance of being prepared. So, he spent half a year just researching.
“Studying maps and talking to the experts,” said Baird. “I talked to some biologists. I found a really good contact, a fella that used to hunt this population and lived down in that area for a number of years.”
Baird is not from this area. The 33-year-old had visited Petersburg for many years where his dad commercial fished but he didn’t become a permanent resident until last year. That opened up his options to go after a unique, isolated herd of mountain goats on the Cleveland Peninsula between Wrangell and Ketchikan.
The odds were not in his favor. This particular hunt is a lottery draw.
Baird: ‘“I think there was about 150 total hunters that applied and two winners,” Baird said.
KFSK: “So, you were lucky.”
Baird: “Yes, extremely lucky.”
That was in February. Fast forward to September and Baird is climbing the mountains of the peninsula with eight days of food on his back and more supplies stashed near the beach.
Baird: “I could’ve used a rifle on this hunt but growing up a bow hunter, I’ve just kind of been a bow hunter my whole life. There’s some incredible equipment out there anymore with regards to compound bows, which is what I shoot. But comfortably, me shooting at an animal, I’m usually 50 yards and inside. And on a hunt like this, 40 and closer, where you’re looking at uneven terrain, and big tough critters, you want to make a good, clean ethical shot.”
KFSK: “That is really close, 50 yards is really close.”
Baird: “(Laughs) Yeah, yeah, no kidding.”
KFSK: “So, it’s all probably strategy on how to do that?”
Baird: “Yeah, utilize the terrain, and wind, and sun and a number of things. Usually, it’s a patience game trying to get them bedding in the right spot and then you can decipher the rest and try to get in tight.”
KFSK: “When did you know that this could be a world record billy?”
Baird: “So, I killed him and I found him that day–I think it was day four of the hunt—and he dropped off of a pretty significant avalanche chute. And he lost about 7-800 foot in elevation from where I shot to where he died and probably did it in a manner of seconds. He basically dove off an avalanche chute. Took me a couple of hours to get down to him. Finally did, and the way he came to rest, his right horn was buried in some gravel in this avalanche chute and initially I thought it was shattered. But I lifted his head up and certainly, like I said, this is my first specifically targeting mountain goat hunt. I mean, I knew a little about size but not enough to really like lift up and say, ‘Oh man, this is going to be the world record’ type deal. I knew he was big just by putting my hands up to him and kind of taking some just some little guesstimates as to how long he was. That type of deal. But I didn’t really know until I got him back and checked him in with Fish and Game.”
KFSK: “So, what does being the world record holder mean to you? What has it mean so far?”
Baird: “Right now personally, I’m still kind of trying to wrap my head around it. It’s pretty surreal. Like I said, this was my first time. It wasn’t like I went up there—I did joke over the summer with some friends and family, I think, that I was going to shoot a world record but that was (laughs) completely in jest. I didn’t really think that that was ever going to be a possibility.”
That was just the beginning of a long process. The horns were measured ten ways by an official measurer and scored at 53-4/8 inches. A panel of judges in Arizona with the bow hunting organization Pope and Young confirmed the new record on December 5th.
Baird doesn’t know how much the mountain goat weighed because he quartered him and carried all the meat down the mountain. He also saved the head and part of the hide, which he plans to mount.
Depending on the pandemic, Baird could be recognized in April in Reno, Nevada at a convention that brings together a thousand bow hunters from around the world.
Baird’s mountain goat is the largest one ever harvested by bow in North America. A slightly larger mountain goat, measuring 57-4/8 inches from British Columbia holds the record for one harvested by rifle.