I just enjoyed your story with my morning coffee. Must say I thoroughly felt the excitement of your hunt. Two beautiful bears.
I too am a brown bear hunter and will be leaving a week from tomorrow on my third trip to AK. Already wired, really didn't need to read your story.
My outfitter is Wade Renfro. Will be hunting in the western part of the state, in the Kilbuck Mts, east of Bethel.
Been kinda snake bit where these big bears are concerned. First trip was a washout thanks to America west, misplacing my gun and gear for four days.This was a 06 May hunt and what little time we spent in the field we couldn't do much because of the very deep snow. Bears were not out of their dens.
A travel tip; I'm sure everyone knows that you can ship your gear and firearms to yourself care of your outfitter. This is perfectly legal as long as it remains locked in a case and he does not take possession of it. I shipped this way last Sept, Priority Mail, three days and it was there in Bethel. On this trip we are going to meet in the village of Aniak this is about 100 mi NE of Bethel. My outfitter does not have an address there, I came close to cancelling before I would trust the airlines again. Found out that you can ship to yourself, GENERAL DELIVERY to any post office and it will be held for thirty days. This I am going to do, will report on it.
Went back up in Sept 06 and hunted with what turned out to be a very inexperienced bear guide. Anyhow on the third day took a bear that he called a shooter, let me tell ya I was never so disappointed in all my life when I approached that bear. My guide spotted the bear coming down off a mtn. comming right at us. There was a 4-5 acre willow patch between us, this came up to within a few yards of out position. Then the wind shifted and was blowing on our backs, he knew we were there. I got my first fair look at him at about 300 yds, he stopped stood up and looked around. Then droped out of sight, looked like we were gonna have him in our laps any moment. Instead he turned and came out the back side, now he's out there about 400 yds and crossing. At that time I had him in my scope and was not overly impressed with his size, but they tell ya to trust your guide. Anyways for some reason known only to him he did a 90 and came right at us. I was rested over my pack, at about 200-225yds the willows thined out a bit and he stopped and raised up. My shot was good, a hit in the chest put him down. Was a very exciting few seconds.
Anyways gonna try again. We will be flown in, guide and I. We will have a cook tent and a smaller sleep tent. I know that "what the hell am I getting myself into feeling", but like you this is quickly overcome and I settle in to enjoy the hunt.
This in tundra country, a huge drainage surrounded my some very rugged mountains. Last fall, even though we were about two hundred miles from the coast the river was full of fish, plus there was a heavy berry crop. What bear sign we seen the bears were favoring the berries over the fish and of course the berries were everywhere.
I'll be using a Sako AV 375 H&H with 270 gr Barnes TSX at a tad over 2800 fps. 2½" high at 100 yds, on at 200 yds and adout 4' low at 250 yds where I shot a clover leaf with it yesyerday, actually surprising flat shooting for a big gun. Gives ya allot of confidence.
If ya ever happen to watch a program called Archers Choice with Ralph and Vickie Cianciarulo, I ran into them last Sept. I was finished and trying to get out of Bethel to come home. They were heading out on their hunt. Which was very successful by the way, his bear measured 9' 7". This program shows the type the terrain I hunt in. Also you can go to their site for pics and a story of the hunt.
Told ya I'm wired, all for now.
Ya will hear from me on my return.