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Horns of plenty

Prize pronghorn
2010-11-22T00:00:00Z Horns of plentyBy EVE BYRON Independent Record Helena Independent Record
November 22, 2010 12:00 am  • 

When Kody Baker came home from work early on Sept. 15, his neighbor called to say some antelope in a field near their East Helena homes were acting kind of funny. So Baker, who had a hunting blind nearby, grabbed his bow and went to check them out.

By the time he got home a few hours later, Baker had scratches from belly-crawling 400 yards through a newly cut wheat field and what he believes is the new state record for a pronghorn antelope shot with a bow.

“I was still in my dry-wall clothes,” he said on Friday, sporting a big grin and carrying the buck’s horns. “I’ve only been bow-hunting for three years, though I’ve hunted all of my life.”

He had taken his son to the dentist that fall day when the neighbor mentioned that the antelope weren’t paying a lot of attention to what was going on around them, since they were in the midst of the rut. Baker saw about 15 does and the buck cross the road, paying little attention to traffic, and then they dropped into the field.

He followed them into the field, fell to his belly, and the stalk was on.

Antelope are difficult to get close enough to for a good shot, especially for bow hunters, since the animal’s eyesight is comparable to eight-to-10-power binoculars. Adding to the challenge is they’re the fastest North American land animal, with recorded speeds of up to 55 mph, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service — hence their nickname, “speed goats.”

“It was a flat field, but there was enough of a roller that he was on the downhill side of and couldn’t see me,” Baker said. “I was on the ground, crawling, for one-and-a half, maybe two hours — he kept looking up and I would go flat to the ground.”

He crawled to within 85 yards of the buck, which suddenly stood up, showing Baker his broad side. The buck walked about 60 yards and Baker took his shot, felling the antelope with one arrow.

“Another big buck saw it going down. He circled two times around my buck, and took off with my buck’s does,” Baker added, laughing.

He took the antelope to taxidermist Josh Pallister, who measured the horns after the mandatory 60-day drying period, and they scored an 86. That includes the tip-to-tip spread, the inside spread, the length of the horn, the circumference of the horn at various points, and the length of the prong.

“The paperwork hasn’t been sent in yet so it will not be official until Pope and Young accepts the score and sends back the certificate,” Pallister said. “But it’s a pretty large animal and I think it’s one for the record book.”

The old state record of 84 2/8 was set in 1989.

“That held for 21 years,” Baker said.

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076 or


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(17) Comments

  1. Brian 'Tiny' Twigginberries
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    Brian 'Tiny' Twigginberries - December 06, 2010 6:24 pm
    There are two hunting regulations I would like to point out here that I don't believe the hunter is aware of.

    1) Public Roadways
    It is illegal for anyone to hunt or attempt to hunt any game animal or game bird on, from, or across any public highway
    or the shoulder, berm, barrow pit or right-of-way of any public highway.

    I'm not Daniel Boone or anything, but I'm pretty sure that a hunter is in violation of this regulation when attempting to hunt animals that are crossing a public road.

    2) Two-way Communication
    • Two-way communication may not be used to hunt game animals or upland game birds, migratory birds or furbearers as defined in MCA 87-2-101 (8)(“Hunt” means to “pursue, shoot, wound, kill, chase, lure, possess or capture.”)

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I consider a telephone two-way communication. Had the neighbor not called, the antelope probably would have lived for another day or so.

    I have to say that this was not a "hunt" in my opinion. The method and kill should be considered criminal activity. This hunter does not deserve a record score, he deserves to lose his hunting license.
  2. Independent
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    Independent - November 26, 2010 9:24 am
    steeline, you’re bouncing all over the place. Do you want to go back 55 years or not? 55 years ago segregation existed. I have had a hunting license for 31 years. Does that make me experienced enough? Maybe you should go hunting today and see how many ranchers welcome you with open arms. Without Block Management and other tools the record number of hunters in the field today would be more limited that we are. When you enter the way back machine for 55 years ago you will see fewer hunters so ranchers did welcome them more. I have no idea how you label me a "Typical liberal" for saying anyone that belly crawls an hour or so is a real hunt. I don't care what the setting. It was with a bow. Let me know how sitting in your truck this morning in minus 10 weather was. Or were you out walking in this Montana winter.
  3. steeline
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    steeline - November 25, 2010 8:38 am
    Independent You sound like a lefty. "segregation" "termoil",
    Typical liberal approach to anything. Twist in non applicable issues to make a rediculous point in defense of stupidity.
  4. steeline
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    steeline - November 25, 2010 8:35 am
    I rest my case.
  5. Independent
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    Independent - November 24, 2010 11:05 am
    The setting is not traditional but the hunt was truely a hunt. 55 years ago people harvested animals from the road. Don't get to caught up in wanting things to go back 55 years to the segragation and turmoil of the 60's. I was young but remember.
    Report Abuse
    FARMGRL - November 24, 2010 9:26 am
    Congrats Kody!!!
    Steeline-you are being kind of calumniating....wait, you probably dont understand that word, so let me rephrase myself...RUDE!!!!
  7. helenros
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    helenros - November 24, 2010 7:44 am
    I remember being able to drive up to a ranch house and ask permission to hunt and be told, "Yes." I also remember being closed out of land my family had hunted for decades, because an outfitter offered the landowner money for exclusive access. It is not the same world any more, and I feel bad that my kids won't have the same opportunities I had. Congratulations on a well-earned trophy, Kody.
  8. reader39
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    reader39 - November 23, 2010 10:37 pm
    I walk my dog out there. I live near that field. The antelope in that field during that time of year are not skittish. I bow hunt and I guess if I wanted to shoot something out of a petting zoo and call it hunting I would go there too. Nice animal but proud of that hunt? It sickens me what more and more people call hunting.
  9. steeline
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    steeline - November 23, 2010 9:38 am
    It is obvious to me that the comments made are made by the inexperienced hunter,20 years or less. Of course I would bet most of them are less than 40 years old. I have to give them credit for knowing what they know about hunting cause hunting aint what it used to be 55 years ago. Sure you can belly crawl up to a lopper and plug them, or out smart them by being in thier escape route, or just climb over a hill and harvest one. The point I am making is that subdivision hunting is not real hunting, you can still use hunting skills but you are not hunting totally wild animals. For those of you youngsters that have to put up with Block Management, Kmart parking lot drag out area's, fee hunting, no hunting signs and the likes, I say this, I have experienced the best hunting years in Montana, before all the hoops you have to jump through now. You will not be able to understand it because you were not even born then. The landowners didn't charge, they were glad to see a stranger, there were few places that you couldn't hunt and most of all you could harvest very large deer bucks 30" plus. You had to be a good elk hunter because there were not the numbers that are here now, hats off to excellent game management. Now we must get some form of handle on the wolf population or else you will have problems harvesting anything.
  10. 727WON
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    727WON - November 23, 2010 9:14 am
    Ha Ha! Great job Kody. I can't believe how ignorant some of these posts are. I'd take that kill any day. I'm proud of you. Uncle Timmy
  11. HaffyNuts
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    HaffyNuts - November 22, 2010 6:37 pm
    GOOD JOB Kody - so good to hear of a good hunt - rather than the tales of pickup trucks and drunk hunters chasing speed goats across the plains.

    Oh - wait - is THAT the "hunting" others refer to?

    This animal was taken fairly - and the other buck got in a neener neener. Appreciate it for what it is.....
  12. Doglover
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    Doglover - November 22, 2010 11:40 am
    Doesn't sound like a fair hunt to me either steeline. I can go out my back door and shoot a very nice buck deer but I won't because these deer are used to humans and aren't afraid of much
  13. 270XBolt
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    270XBolt - November 22, 2010 11:25 am
    To Steeline---Would it make any difference if I said that I harvested my buck this year as it tried to run into an area that used to be trees, but had been logged and turned into a field. He was displaced by my field, yet I shot him. That critter had to adjust also. It is that way in all aspects of hunting.
  14. 270XBolt
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    270XBolt - November 22, 2010 11:18 am
    Awesome buck Cody!!!! You were successful in making a great stalk on a very elusive animal. Don't let any of these animal activists get you down. We are all sending congrats from out here in NE Montana. The Caldwell's and the Lambert's say way to go!!!!!
  15. Independent
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    Independent - November 22, 2010 11:04 am
    Anyone willing to belly crawl 1 to 2 hours in fresh cut field is hunting. It was with a bow which is the only safe way to harvest this renewable resourse and thin the herd. The setting may not be traditional but it is hunting.
  16. justme59601
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    justme59601 - November 22, 2010 10:24 am
    obviously steeline isn't a hunter. have you ever tried to sneak up on an antelope? it's almost impossible to get close enough to an antelope for a shot at one with an arrow. the article says he sneaked to within 85 yards when the buck stood up. so don't try to spew nonsense like the animal was "acclimated" to people.
  17. steeline
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    steeline - November 22, 2010 9:14 am
    Nice buck, but was the hunt a real "hunt"? The big game that roam the Helena Valley are all animals that have been displaced by subdivisions. The animals have become acclimated to people, cars, dogs, noise, you name it. Are the animals that are harvested in the Helena Valley a true "fair chase" animal? I don't think so. I call the deer,elk antelope subdivision animals and are not a fair chase critter. More like fishing in a rain barrel. However, the fact that the large game animals still live among the subdivisions it gives pause to what the biologists have been saying about how animals react to subdivisions, logging roads, mines, mountain trails ect. The critters just adjust. It is the people that have more problems.

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