Nfld. & Labrador

First polar bear hunt unforgettable for Labrador woman

Sherri Wolfrey of Rigolet had no problems taking pictures of the first polar bear she has ever seen, but when the Labrador woman raised her rifle to kill the massive carnivore, she just couldn't do it.

Rigolet's Sherri Wolfrey couldn't pull the trigger; boyfriend needed one shot

Sherri Wolfrey of Rigolet had no problems taking pictures of the first polar bear she has ever seen, but when the Labrador woman raised her rifle to kill the massive carnivore, she just couldn't do it.

Looking down the barrel of her her late father's gun, with one of his cartridges loaded into the breach, her target loomed large in the distance.

"I just kept saying, 'I can't. I'm too scared. I might shoot it somewhere where I'm not supposed to.'"

She handed the firearm to her boyfriend and hunting companion, Guido Rich, and he quickly dispatched the animal with one shot.

"I was so nervous. My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it that anything could be so big," Sherri told Labrador Morning during an interview Friday morning.

This was how one of the most memorable moments of Sherri's life unfolded on the morning of March 1.

It was a beautiful day to take part in the annual bear hunt, and conditions were ideal for travelling by snowmobile on Labrador's rugged coast.

I was so nervous. My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it that anything could be so big.- Sherri Wolfrey

Guido, who held the coveted licence, spotted the bear at about 10 a.m., and a peaceful morning on snowmobiles quickly turned into an adventure of a lifetime.

They raced after the bear and circled it several times, with Sherri taking photographs.

They didn't quite realize the size of the bear until it was on the ground.

One bulky bear

From nose to tail, it measured eight feet, five inches, and had a span of seven feet, five inches when its legs were spread out beneath it.

They figure it weighed between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds.

It was so large that its massive paws hung over the sides of their komatik, and their snowmobile kept overheating as they transported it back to Rigolet, an Inuit community of 300 people located at the entrance to Hamilton Inlet, northeast of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Many commented it was one of the bulkiest polar bears they had ever seen, and the fur is expected to fetch quite a payday for Sherri and Guido.

They received an offer from a school in Iqaluit for $5,000, but typically, polar bear furs can sell for about $1,000 per linear foot.

"We had quite a few people calling interested in buying it," said Sherri.

Spoiled meat disappoints residents

The return of the successful hunters back to the community caused quite a commotion as they began skinning the bear.

Many residents came looking for some bear meat, but Sherri said it had spoiled.

It was Sherri's first-ever hunt, but she hopes it won't be her last.

"My name is still on the list yet to go out. If I gets a chance I will be going again," she said.

She also made it clear that hunting is no longer a man's game in Labrador. She said another woman in her community shot a bear last year, and she hopes to do the same at some point in the future.

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