RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said four friends were camping at Namay Falls on Sunday, when one of them was woken up at 4 a.m. by a noise. He thought it was a bear and it was close to the tent.
The 22-year-old fired a shot, only to discover he had hit one of his camping buddies.
Someone called 911 and officers arrived by helicopter to find the group "very distraught," Karpish said.
"It is certainly a very sad reminder of the great responsibility that comes with handling firearms."
The four friends had been dropped into their campsite by helicopter and were just beginning a canoe trip down the Bloodvein River, Karpish said. The tragic shooting occurred during their first night in the wilderness.
Sadly, Karpish said it's not that unusual for people to be mistaken for wildlife and shot accidentally.
"These people were out in the middle of nowhere and there are bears out there and cougars. There may be other types of wildlife that may pose a threat," she said. "In this case, the young man believed it was a bear and fired the gun."
The victim is a 17-year-old from Steinbach, Man., Karpish said. Police will not be releasing his name.
An autopsy is scheduled in Winnipeg. RCMP are continuing to investigate but Karpish said no charges have been laid.