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.
What an amazing adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and photos. Those bears look huge! I have taken 8 black bears, all spot and stalk or called in, one of which was in SE Alaska, one in the Selway Bitterrrot in Idaho and the others in SE Washington where I live. I love bear hunting and would love to go after grizzly or brown bear but the cost is out of my means. It sure is fun to read of others adventures though. I really wonder though at your choice of a single shot for such potentially dangerous game. Glad it worked out for you. Rufous.
All I was thinking about was making the shot. Having only one cartridge in the rifle makes things a bit more intense, but one good shot is better than two or three poor ones. I never heard the rifle go off, although it took away the sight picture with all the recoil. I did come away from that experience with a lot of respect for the power of the .416 Ribgy. Fact is there are probably several big cartridges that would have done a similar job, it was impressive. I was so blessed with the way this unfolded. I probably think about those key moments virtually every day!
I'm interested in the 416 Rigby. Is brass readily available for this caliber and what other case (if any) can be formed to the Rigby? Additionally, what powders, load recipes, are suitable for the cartridge, (ball vs. extruded vs. flake & primer type)?
No problem to obtain .416 Rigby brass, same goes for factory loaded ammo. Lots of fine bullets available also, I practice with 250 Speer softpoints and hunt with 250 grain Swift A-Frames. Both seem to hit to the same zero with a fairly heavy charge of H4831. I am impressed with this cartridge, I took a huge moose the next year with another cartridge from the same box of ammo that I used on the brown bear hunt. He was dead before he hit the ground. I believe it kills better than the .375, bigger bullet equals more killing power - that was a consensus from the guides I have met in Alaska.
the bear story above I have rode sno go all tru that country marble montain 100 mile cat d 9 trail and this country is purtty hunted boi there many times I urge all you lower 48 hunters to at lest get one trip up here in your life time you will be glad you did ak338rum