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Hunting milestones achieved

A polar bear that wandered into the Iqaluit area a few weeks ago didn't get too far after being noticed.

Juston Vincent took down this polar bear near Apex Road in Iqaluit a few weeks ago. It was his first polar bear kill. photo courtesy of Juston Vincent

Juston Vincent located it near the Apex Road and brought it down with three shots.

"I was out checking my fox traps. I was walking and I found polar bear tracks. Me and my friend started following them," Vincent recalled.

As they got close to the gun range they met an RCMP officer, who confirmed that a polar bear was somewhere nearby.

Vincent, 19, remained vigilant and then spotted the predator through the scope of his rifle at a considerable distance.

"I ran all the way and then I shot it," he said. "It was open season and I got the last polar bear tag."

Although it was his first polar bear kill, and despite chasing the powerful animal on foot, Vincent said he didn't let his adrenaline rush hinder him.

"You should be calm when you're hunting," he said. "Take your time and make sure it's a clean shot."

With all the commotion the bear had caused – not to mention the gunfire – there was a fair crowd of people who gathered, Vincent recalled.

"Lots of people took photos of it," he said of the bear.

Vincent bagged his first caribou earlier this year too, but the ungulate wasn't conveniently close to town. He was camping with his uncle several kilometres down the bay from Iqaluit during the summer. After waking up and venturing out of the tent, Vincent realized they weren't going boating anytime soon due to low tide. So he instead grabbed his rifle and went on a hike over four mountains. That's when he encountered the caribou and shot it. While it was an exciting occasion, he had to do the heavy lifting over that same gruelling terrain, all the way back to their camp.

"I had the whole body. It was cut up and the ribs and spine were still attached. We cut the legs off and put them in the body and we tied it closed. Then I had to carry that," he said, estimating the animal must have weighed close to 200 pounds.

"It was a good time," he said, chuckling.

He shared both the caribou and polar bear with family and elders.

Vincent, who picked up his hunting skills from various relatives, has been bringing home meat for years by hunting ptarmigan, geese, rabbits, walrus and fox. Some of the fox pelts can be used for clothing, like parkas, or can be sold, he noted.

A Canadian North employee, Vincent gets a chance to fly now and again. He was hoping to get to Iglulik last week to visit relatives and, of course, to go hunting with them.