Let's review a little bit about why Labrador has stayed off the bear-hunting radar. First of all, Labrador is overshadowed by neighboring Newfoundland when it comes to bear hunting. Not many destinations in eastern North America are as well known for producing large spring black bears as Newfoundland. According to biologists, the island's bear population is genetically unique. It produces some of the largest black bears on the continent, on average, second to perhaps the islands off the coast of British Columbia and southeast Alaska. Add in hunter success rates at many camps running 90 percent, top-notch guides, accommodations and services, and you have a combination difficult to beat.
All of that said, Labrador is probably home to more bears than Newfoundland, where the population is estimated at about 10,000 animals. The problem in Labrador is that almost no one has offered hunts specifically for spring black bear. Over the years, I have hunted caribou in Labrador at least a dozen times, and the only bears I have seen harvested were taken coincidentally by caribou hunters in the fall.
This is about to change. Back in March of this year I received a phone call from an outfitter friend, Yves St. Marie of Northern Lights Lodges, Ltd. I've known St. Marie for over 20 years, having fished several of his trout camps in the Ashuanipi watershed back in the early 1980s. I've hunted caribou with him as well, and after hashing over old times and catching up, he got........(continued)