The youth was in stable condition in hospital in Hay River after he was driven there from a campground near Fort Resolution early Thursday morning.
Police will not give the age or the gender of the youth, only saying the person is between 12 and 18.
RCMP Const. Elenore Sturko says the shooting happened when the handgun misfired while trying to frighten a bear that wandered close to the camp site.
The gun fired during efforts to unjam it, hitting the youth.
Philip Wolfe, who is 31, is charged with careless use of a firearm, unauthorized possession of a firearm and obstruction of a peace officer.
Fort Resolution is about 162 kilometres north of the N.W.T. boundary with Alberta.