Nfld. & Labrador

Nain woman shoots polar bear for the first time

After scoring a rare hunting license, a woman in Nain braved the harsh cold earlier this week to track down and bag her first polar bear.
Beni Andersen had one of three available polar bear hunting licenses that were issued for Nain. (Submitted )

After scoring a rare hunting license, a woman in Nain braved the harsh cold earlier this week to track down and bag her first polar bear. 

Beni Andersen has lived in Nain all her life but says she had only seen a polar bear once before — that was earlier this summer.

Andersen was accompanied by her boyfriend and her brother, Edward, on the hunting trip. Each year the Nunatsiavut Government gets a dozen polar bear licenses — just three go to Nain.

A lot of people dream their whole life about getting a polar bear and I just got to do it.- Beni Andersen, Nain hunter 

"At one point, the bear came down from the hill and it was looking down on us like it was ready to charge and that was kind of freaky," Andersen told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

Andersen said the bear was relatively small in size but its clean, white coat immediately caught the group's attention.

She and her boyfriend approached the bear on snowmobile in an attempt to corner the animal while Andersen's brother prepared the gun.

"We went to go check on Edward because he was the one loading the gun for me ... and he said there's ice stuck in the gun," Andersen said. 

By the time the group had fixed the firearm, the bear was gone. 

"God, it moved fast ... We were another 15 minutes tracking it in rough, rough ice. And then we finally seen it and it was like, 'Oh my god,'" she said.

Andersen quickly took aim and pulled the trigger. "It ran probably 20 yards and fell down and died," she said. "And I felt so bad — 'I can't believe I just did that.'"

Initially, Andersen said she was scared to approach the bear but eventually went over and apologized to the animal for shooting it. 

The ride home was painful. After spending more than six hours in the harsh cold, Andersen had major frostbite on her face as well as her leg. 

Despite the discomfort, Andersen said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "A lot of people dream their whole life about getting a polar bear and I just got to do it," she said.

Andersen said the bear meat will go in the community freezer and the skin will be sold. She plans to keep the skull as a souvenir.

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