Newfoundland and Labrador Bruins. Is Your Wall Big Enough?

Wherever I travel to hunt black bears, I always compare it to Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). After successfully hunting there several times, I have little doubt that this location is home to some of the largest black bears, offering some of the best hunting opportunities on the continent. Whether you hunt with a rifle, muzzleloader or bow, if you want a chance at a trophy bruin, few places offer such high odds at success. High success rates, an outfitting establishment that delivers more than it advertises, and competitive prices – NL is difficult to beat.

There are many aspects about a NL bear hunt that make it worth undertaking, but it always comes back to the bears. It has been written that black bears here have a tendency to run larger than those on mainland North America, due to a genetic predisposition and light hunting pressure. I have seen and taken some of largest bruins on the island and every year examples in the 400- and 500-pound class are harvested. The largest bear ever taken on the island portion of the province tipped the scales at 687 pounds. Not many places I know have topped it. This doesn’t mean you won’t see smaller or ‘average’ bears. The best chances for a trophy in terms of overall body weight are during the fall season after a summer of heavy feeding on berries and other native fruits. Record-book bear heads are taken during the spring season as well. Another thing that few places offer is the opportunity for fall bear hunters to combine their hunt with a chance at woodland caribou or moose, while spring hunters can also wet a line.

One of the things about NL bear hunting is you can practically bet the house and rest assured you will see bears. With an estimated bear population of just over 10,000, the bear density is one of the highest on the continent. Most days out you won’t see just one bear, but several. Add in long seasons and camps accessible by vehicle, boat, float plane, or helicopter – there’s virtually something for everyone.

And then there is the Labrador portion of the province. The number of outfitters offering spring bear hunts is limited at present, but judging by what I saw on a recent hunt, that will undoubtedly change once word gets out. Labrador has drawn very low hunting pressure, yet it has lots of bear – some outfitters say too many bears. It remains an untapped bear hunting territory, something increasingly difficult to find these days, and it has the potential to be one of the finest bear hunting areas on the continent. If you want to get in on the early possibilities for a trophy bruin, now is the time to go. The spring and fall seasons are also generously long, and the legal bag limit allows two bears per licence, which means hunters are allowed two bears in the spring. 

NL has lots to offer the bear hunter. So much so, it’s put the province on the top of my list – where it’s sure to stay.