Bear Spray Fails to Stop Fatal Grizzly Attack in Wyoming

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear

U.S.A. -(Ammoland.com)- Early reports on the fatal grizzly bear attack on guide Mark Uptain and client Corey Chubon have been confused about many details. The attack on the bowhunter, Corey Chubon, and guide, Mark Uptain, occurred on 14 Septemberof 2018 in Wyoming. In the initial reporting, Chubon was said to have thrown a pistol to Uptain and run away.

As facts come to light, the reality is more nuanced.

Mark Uptain appears to have relied on a can of bear spray to deter the attack. A can of bear spray, with the safety off, was found at the site. The adult sow grizzly had bear spray on her at the scene. The bear was shot and killed as she attacked investigating Fish and Wildlife personnel. From buckrail.com:

The interagency search for the missing guide was suspended Friday evening and resumed early Saturday morning. The guide’s body was found that day, his fatal-injuries consistent with a bear attack.

An investigation found a discharged can of bear spray with the safety off near the body. It was later determined that the sow (female bear) had been sprayed with bear spray.

The evidence of the empty can of bear spray and spray on the attacking grizzly show this to be a fatal bear spray failure.

The report on the use and failure of bear spray is clear. Other details are uncertain.

Reporters have talked to both Corey Chubon and his father, Frank Chubon. Corey lives in Florida, but Frank lives in Pennsylvania. The interviews seem to have been conducted separately.

Differences between what reporters say Corey's father said and what Corey Chubon said are adding to the confusion.  Corey's father was not on site when it happened. The father must be relying on details he heard from Corey, or from others.

One report from Orlando says that Chubon and Uptain were mounted on horses when attacked, and that Chubon was dragged off his horse and swung through the air by the sow grizzly.  But Corey Chubon says that he was not dragged from the horse. From Corey Chubon on Twitter:

This report is extremely inaccurate.. I was never grabbed from my horse, I wasn’t airlifted to the hospital, No one ever said I needed surgery on my Achillies…

A report from buckrail.com says Corey was flown to a local hospital:

The hunting client was flown to a local area hospital by helicopter where he received treatment for his injuries and the search began for the guide who was missing at the time of the initial response.

In an interview, Corey Chubon says he attempted to toss the pistol to Mark Uptain while being swung about by the grizzly, but the pistol did not make it to Mark.

“He swung me around in the air and at that point in time I tried to throw the gun to Mark and the gun didn't make it there,” Chubon said.

Chubon reported Uptain was shouting at the bear and attempting to drive it away.

Corey Chubon's father is reported as saying Corey and Mark Uptain were using the horses to drag the elk out of the woods when they were attacked. From clickorlando.com:

Chubon's father, who was on the trip but did not go with the two to get the animal, said he was told the two men were pulling the elk's carcass out of the woods on horseback when two bears attacked. Chubon was grabbed by the ankles and tossed off of his horse, his father said. Chubon was able to point a pistol at the bear, but the animal knocked it out of his hands. 

Corey Chubon ankle wound

Corey Chubon has repeatedly said that he tried to throw the pistol to Mark Uptain, but it did not reach him. Corey's father or the reporter got the detail about the bear knocking the pistol out of Corey's hand wrong.

According to Corey Chubon's father, Corey was able to get back up on the horse and ride to higher ground to call for help on a cell phone.

The father, Frank Chubon, reported it took two hours for a helicopter to arrive with help.

Was Corey mounted, and tossed off the horse?  He says he was not dragged off the horse. It is not clear if he was mounted when attacked by the bears. Was he flown to a local hospital? He says he was not airlifted to the hospital.

Investigators at the site have reported some of what they found on the ground. Brad Hovinga is the regional supervisor for Wyoming Game and Fish.

“The investigation revealed the two men approached the undisturbed elk carcass and there was no sign of bears in the immediate area of the carcass,” said Hovinga. “It was after they started field dressing the elk that the attack happened.”

More forensic evidence and information from Corey Chubon will eventually clear up some of the confusion.

Attempts to reach Corey Chubon and his father for this article have been unsuccessful.

A Gofundme page has been set up for Mark Uptain's family at the link.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 37 thoughts on “Bear Spray Fails to Stop Fatal Grizzly Attack in Wyoming

    1. Imagine the agony that poor man went threw 🙁 Bear attacks are said to be one of the most painful and terrifying ways to go. They literally eat you alive. People who survive them are traumatized for life. It makes me mad when people defend the bears of such attacks. I understand a sow with cubs, but just any old bear who decides to kill and eat people needs to be shot. Period. Just the other day I saw some misanthrope commenting on Facebook on how he’s glad about all the bear attacks and hopes it continues to happen and that FWS should stop killing bears that attack people. If there hadn’t been a computer separating us, I would’ve punched him in the face.
      Human life doesn’t seem to have any worth anymore. Animals need to be protected, but humans are also animals and it shouldn’t be bad to defend our own. Animals have been elevated and given a position above humans thanks to Animal Rights extremism. Its absolutely disgusting, and positively psychopathic in the eyes of victims of such attacks who have to keep hearing everyone saying it was their fault and that bears should not be put down for killing people, just because humans are “receiving their karma”.

    2. I’m not a hunter, and my prayers go out to his family, BUT, I’ve ridden horses in bear country and the horse always smells the bear way before we ever see it. I always carry a pistol and never ride alone. We make a lot of noise and so far, knock on wood, we’ve never had an issue . I feel about it like this, have one person as a look out and one field dressing, and that’s no guarantee. The bear reacted just as she would have had she ran across another bear with the dead elk, she’d do her best to run off who ever was at the kill. Sure we have guns and spray and what ever else, and I do believe bears have begun to associate the gun fire with dinner, but they are the apex predator in the woods. They’re stronger, bigger, and have the advantage. Sure you can drop one but placed in the scenario of a charging bear, your average Joe is gonna fall apart before they ever get a shot off, plus, Unless it’s a well placed shot, it’s not gonna stop one. I love the woods and love to ride in them but it’s their land, to me it’s like a shark bite victim. People get attacked by a shark and it’s the sharks fault. They’ve been in the ocean for millions of years, go in the ocean and you’re basically throwing yourself in the food chain. THIS IS JUST MY HONEST OPINION. Please don’t attack me

      1. @Nan K, Yes, one that goes into the ocean becomes part of the food chain, and making your horse go into bear country is making him part of the food chain, too. Just my honest observation.

    3. I commented last week on the other thread regarding this bear attack; I am the hiker/horseback rider who frequents Turpin Meadows trailhead and knows exactly where the incident occurred. I mentioned I carry 2 firearms (one being the Glock 20 which is most likely the type of firearm that the guide had), and 2- 3 canisters of spray (each person) readily accessible and I’m a hiker – not kneeling over a carcass. Anyway…I had some suggestions in that comment that could start being implemented in the field. What is now bothering me is the attitude of WY Game & Fish – that this guide did nothing wrong and was following suggested hunting practices – he (being supervisor Brad Hovinga) keeps commenting in all related articles that the guide did not make any mistakes. I 100% disagree and I wrote this email to the Public Relations officer below. I have yet to receive a response. I can tell from the above comments on this forum that many of you believe that errors were indeed committed. I want to be respectful to the loss of life, but shouldn’t we also face the hard truths of human error even though it’s painful? I am not “arm chair quarterbacking” – or whatever that saying is! :-)…. I want this to be an example of why outfitters and guides in WY should take a look at some of their practices and change with the times. Please see the email I wrote to WY Game & Fish below and let me know if anyone agrees….

      I cannot find a direct email to Mr. Hovinga, so I am emailing you in hopes this message will find it’s way to him. He is doing a grave disservice by continually saying there were no mistakes made in the Turpin Meadows bear incident. STOP with the political correctness. It may be hard to hear the truth, but the guide made critical errors. No less than 5 of them. You would be doing a better service to the community by pointing out these errors instead of continuously commenting that good hunting practices were followed, they were NOT! Who takes 1 can of spray and 1 Glock firearm that’s zipped up in a pack for 2 people going to field dress a gut shot elk in the Teton Wilderness??? It was a series of errors and this should be reiterated in every single article. Very disappointed in the politics that WY Game & Fish is subscribing too, call it what it was: Outfitter/Guide Error of Judgement.

      Sent from my Verizon LG Smartphone

      1. Norma Jean……I commented on a post you made on the Jackson Hole newspaper site…..and I agree with you.

        I honestly believe that Mr. Uptain had no confidence that this elk would ever be recovered. I believe he watched the arrow’s flight and impact, and knew right away that the placement was poor. I suspect he watched the elk’s reaction to the impact, studied how it left the area, studied the recovered arrow, blood, fluid, and tissue and had 0 confidence that they’d recover the animal? Perhaps, since they were losing light, they began tracking and pushed the animal and watched it travel, and it didn’t show signs of being badly wounded?

        I believe this because of how the tracking and recovery was conducted……a guide and his out of state client only. No other people to help track, recover, butcher, pack, protect….etc.

        I doubt that he thought they would find the animal, and suspected that if it were found it would be covered by bears…..based on the lack of protection that was reported to have been used……1 pistol, and one can of bear spray?

        I believe that Mr. Uptain and Mr. Chubon hunted during the morning of the attack, with an agreement that if they didn’t kill anything they’d look for the elk from the previous day?

        I have to believe that Mr. Uptain was surprised to find the elk, and equally surprised to find it with no bear activity? When he found it, and found no sign of bear activity, I’m convinced that he found comfort and confidence and felt that a bear encounter/attack was highly unlikely……based on the fact that the gun was yards away, and no round had been chambered. After all…..this carcass had been laying all night and no bear located it. He had to know there were bears in the area…..but none close enough to locate the carcass.

        You mention errors……and obviously if everything had been done right he’d be alive…..but I’m convinced that the greatest error was opening the cavity. I believe that the bears were in the area trying to find the carcass, but couldn’t locate it due to the amount of scent…..but once the cavity was breached……the blood and stench from the stomach filled the air enabling the bears to pinpoint the location.

        Once the bears got close enough to see the guide and hunter a decision was made by the bears…..this is our meal.

        I suspect there will be some legal actions looked into by the Uptain estate, which might explain why WGF has kind of kept a low profile? Martin Outfitters hasn’t uttered a word, or at least I can’t find anything?

        Being a workplace fatality…..there will be a pretty thorough investigation which will be published by any news source who’s closely followed this story.

        Very sad for Mr. Uptain’s loss, and nothing written has any intent of being critical.

    4. When hunting in Griz country, AK, Canada, MT, WY or ??? I find the best way to process an animal is to trade off with your hunting partner. One work, one watch if possible. This depends on the time and terrain but I have found the brush is usually to thick to be leisurely working. I usually just keep my head moving like a swivel. It slows down the work but keeps you safe. Another trick is to have a fire going, safely, during the process. The smoke tends to keep certain predators away plus the smoke MAY mask the odors. When ever and where ever I hunt I always carry a large caliber handgun and depending on area usually even during a hike. EVERY MEMBER SHOULD BE ARMED ACCORDINGLY. I have encountered grizzly in AK very close. In a two hour period in Alaska we had 6 too close for comfort (50-200 meters + in most cases) but one lone female came within 8-10 feet. We had watched her approach for about 15-20 minutes and she was not displaying any aggression but she was not retreating either. She went past us like she was taking an afternoon stroll. We DID NOT throw caution to the wind and kept vigilant the entire time. You can come across these predators at salmon areas or just traveling a road. BE CAREFUL.

      I don’t know the details of the Wyoming attack BUT they probably thought they had the bases covered. What ever happened may not have been neglect but it was probably preventable. As to the reporting remember ONE OF THE FIRST LESSONS THE MEDIA LEARNS IN SCHOOL IS TO BLOW THE STORY OUT OF PROPORTION BECAUSE IT WILL HELP GET YOUR STORY AND NAME PUBLISHED. Accuracy is not a requirement in the world of media.

      May God Bless all of those involved and their families. My heart especially goes out to Mark Uptain.

    5. I was told by a well known gun writer who’s opinion I asked of an all ’round rifle I was thinking about, that bear spray is much more effective than firearms, leading to a better outcome for bears and people. I thought this an odd position, given that pepper spray fails on humans all the time, but took him at his word based on his years of experience in the hunting fields.That is, until I watched a video of him demonstrating bear spray, awkwardly fumbling to get the canister into action, leaving his rifle uncontrolled, precariously slung on his shoulder, in the process. I’ll go with a powerful revolver on my hip, or the rifle in my hands where it should be when dangerous predators may be near, thank you. A large contributor to this issue is that grizzlies are still protected when it’s no longer necessary. They’ve lost their fear of humans, to the point that many of them have learned (been conditioned?) to equate a distant gun shot with the dinner bell. That has to be changed, for the bears’ welfare if nothing else.

      1. There have been reports of the bear getting the sent of the spray and tracking the human/s by the odor. bears like most animals have a keener sense of smell than we humans. The spray will never kill the bear…the firearm will.
        Just my 2 cents of common sense. I’ll take the firearm over the spray any day.

        1. I agree with you. They talk about bear spray like we’re spraying away mosquitoes. I’ll take a capable gun over bear spray any day to stop a bear, thank you very much. Leave the spray for muggers and mosquitoes. They need to bring back an annual hunt on grizzlies. They are getting too bold around humans. Grizzlies should be trained again to associate man with danger, not an easy meal. I say that because these men used a silent bow and arrow to kill the elk, there was no gunfire for the grizzlies to associate with a free meal, or as some say “a ringing of the dinner bell.” They smelled blood, they saw two humans, and they fearlessly attacked instead of turning and leaving the area, like they should’ve. Grizzlies are not afraid of people any longer. Just as they became acclimated to garbage dumps in the 60’s and 70’s in Yellowstone and associated humans with food, so too is this same scenario happening again….. This should not have happened to Mark. R.I.P Mr. Uptain….your bright light was snuffed out too soon. Hopefully your death will bring changes to the high country western states so this doesn’t happen to another family, and your timely end will not be in vain……fingers crossed and prayers uttered.

      2. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee has a video titled Bear Spray Demonstration for Hunters featuring a well-known hunter that everyone should watch because it’s such a transparent con. The hunter, a lefty, has his rifle slung over his right shoulder, and a can of bear spray attached to a shoulder strap on his pack on his left side. When he goes to shoot an elk, the bear spray will interfere when he shoulders his rifle. And you should never carry your rifle on a sling when you’re on the move in grizzly country because it will take too long to get off a shot during a classic surprise encounter with a grizzly. The hunter needs two hands to get the can of spray out of its holster, and says you should use two hands when spraying. That means it would be impossible for a hunter to use bear spray with the other 5 field carries for rifles. The hunter in the video tells you bear spray stopped bears 92% of the time–failing to mention that all incidents involved non-hunters, and most incidents involved non-aggressive bears. The truth is, 3 of 9 people who sprayed charging grizzlies were injured, and the injury rate would have been higher, but the study did not include data on incidents when people who were carrying bear spray did not have time to use it. The way I interpret the data is, people who rely on bear spray for protection against charging grizzlies are the outdoors equivalent of crash test dummies.

    6. Who in his right mind goes into bear country unarmed (firearm not spray-what a joke)) especially Griz country! You are dealing with wild animals and basically, bug spray is not going to stop a female grizzly that has cubs around. That had to be the reason for the attack. Also, if they were mounted, the horses would have alerted to the bear’s presence before an attack. This whole story smells worse than a dead rotting carcass.

    7. My “bear spray” would be a 12 gauge of high capacity, loaded with alternating slugs and buckshot…IF I had good reason to be in the same woods with a bear in the first place.
      Condolences to the guide’s family and friends.

    8. Let’s face it. Bear spray does not work on an enraged bear of any kind. Don’t surprise the bear, and hopefully, the bear will not attack you.

        1. to Country Boy FYI A bow kills by massive Blood Loss and a Rifile or handgun Kills by massive tissue and or Organ Damage also known as Shock.

    9. An old newspaper truism is “if it bleeds, it reads.” If you can make a story more dramatic than it is, it will sell m or papers and look better on the TV news.

    10. Typical. The “press” in their rush to be the first to break a story publishes/broadcasts before all the facts are in and fills in the blanks with their own version. Hence we have fake or distorted or just plain wrong news.
      Once again, bear spray fails miserably. Grizzly bears (and their cousins Polar and Kodiaks) are the largest land predators on the entire PLANET! You will never see an African guide in lion country with “lion spray” or a game warden in India carrying “Tiger spray” because they aren’t stupid, apparently unlike most Americans venturing into Grizzly country.

    11. WTF! Why would you just depend on “Bear spray”? That’s like using CS/tear gas to stop an angry arm man, It’s NOT going to work! All they did is piss it off more!

      1. It has happened before too. A grizzly was protecting its kill and the bear spray did not deter it, so the hunters shot it. The really sad thing about that story was that it took 10 months for the U.S. government to conclude it was a legal shoot.

          1. Agreed, there are many who believe animals lives are more valuable than humans. They are the same ones who issue statements like” Well, after all, they were here first”.

    12. Just goes to show that to some bears, bear spray is a condiment.

      I will never understand the “throwing the pistol” scenario unless the guide, seeing his vaunted bear spray having no effect, had zero faith in the client’s ability to aim accurately. BTW what was the caliber of the weapon?

    13. another excellent example of natural selection that is , bears doing what bears have been doing for millions of years , remember the story of grizzly man?, unfortunately however death is a part of life , you can try to inform the ignorant but you cannot fix the stupid , my condolences to the family of the guide and the bear.

    14. Take a lesson from tactical teams. You ALWAYS cover LTL (Less Than Lethal) with Lethal. In other words if one is launching gas or bean bags someone provides lethal coverage in case it goes south.
      It’s still a good idea that everyone is armed when venturing in especially to recover something that has been in the field a day.
      Hunt safe

      1. @Matt in Ok, That is an interesting theoretic. The law of self defense generally expressed is that a person can only employ deadly force to meet the deadly force of another person. So if I exhibit a non deadly weapon, and your team covers me with deadly force, then I have the Civil Right and am entitled to defend myself against whom ever on your team is exhibiting a deadly force weapon against me. Thus the law of deadly force works for me, and your team of good guys become the attackers.
        What happens if I defeat, using my non deadly force weapons, your entire team of good guys, except the designated deadly force operator? Something to think about.
        Although we are only talking about bears, the active mind wanders.

          1. @Taj, just applying the law to a hypothetical. Based upon your response, I can not tell if you can measure the facts by the law or not.
            Oh, and by the way, Texas law provides for a defense of self if a police officer uses undue force. So there is precedent.

    15. Unfortunate for sure. When I go in grizz country my perferred bear spray is 375H&H. I do believe the guide was undergunned if all he had was bear spray (no mention of any other back up weapon) and he was guiding a bow hunter?

      1. You are absolutely correct. We don’t know all the facts but I’m simply amazed that all they had was a handgun as backup. Perhaps someone can clear this up, is there any reason at all, during a bow season, that a guide or other member of the party cannot carry a rifle as long as they’re not the person hunting? Was it a bow only season or combo season?

        Even if there was no season at all I wouldn’t be in that country without a rifle of sufficient caliber to take the largest dangerous game there.

        1. Yes, during archery season you may take a firearm into the field; you are not allowed to hunt or finish off an animal with the firearm; regulations are posted on the WY Game & Fish website. There were no less than 5 critical errors committed in the incident, however due to the sensitivity of the loss of life and the fact that it’s a local guide there seems to be a reluctance to point out mistakes that were made, ultimately contributing to the death of a guide, the mauling (although minor, but still terrifying I’m sure for the client) and a sow and 1 1/2 yr. cub dead. If the bear hunting season had been allowed to proceed this year, a sow with a cub would not even have been able to be shot at – you cant take a sow with a cub. The field dressing of the elk brought in the bear or the blood trail of the dying elk did as it moved through the night from the previous evenings gut shot with the arrow. The area is full of bears, this was only 5.8 miles from the Turpin Meadows trail head. I hike and ride there – I carry 2 firearms, yes, 2, and I am a hiker!!…a Glock 20 (10MM with Buffalo Bore ammo) and a .45 for back up; rifles and shot guns are not practical to hike with so it’s the best you can do if you want to take a semi automatic in the back country; I’m a smaller female so a large revolver doesn’t make sense to me as well. I like to have the extended cartridges and manageability for a chance at accurate placement. I also have no less than 3 canisters of bear spray readily available, yes…3!!!. The spray in this incident was not deployed at the first charge, that’s why the tag line of this article is a bit misleading. Spray is a deterrent…. in the midst of a full blown attack, the animals addrenilan is way too high, the key to spray is to have it 100% ready. I know it sounds silly, but yes….when you are in a situation like this….multiple cans of spray with safeties off should be placed within reach every single time you move around the carcass. Firearms, loaded with safeties off should be laid out within arms reach, notice I said firearms… plural. Not in a pack, a few yards up hill from the field dressing site (this information has recently been revealed). Guns jam, spray gets blown back in the wind, cans dry up, clients freak out, who knows why he wasn’t able to get the gun to fire and decided to toss it to the guide. Point being….both of them should have been armed to the highest level with guns and spray. A stand by person is also not out of line to insist upon…the one and only purpose that person has is to constantly watch for approaching predators. Bear dogs as well (not to hunt with , but when retrieving a kill) can provide priceless time needed; there are videos on line that show these bear dogs aggressively thwarting off grizzly bears; it sounds crazy…but they are quick and determined. So there you have it…..4 to 5 things that can start being implemented in the back country starting tomorrow, stay safe out there and I respect what you do…. I just prefer to see my wildlife alive. 🙂

          1. Thoughts and prayers for the Uptain family, friends and associates.

            Thanks for the great comment from someone in the know.

            Unfortuantely, Mr. Uptain, nor Martin Outfitters fully recognized the threat of a bear encounter/attack, and that failure to be fully prepared and completely aware of the situational risks cost Uptain his life?

            I’ve read every account of this story I could find, and I’ve searched hard. Uptain, had time to kill the bear before it attacked but he wasn’t prepared…..because he was sharing his gun with the client……this makes no sense.

            The recovery took place in heavy timber…….perhaps the worst place for a bear encounter? Why did the guide waste time and “gut” the carcass? The meat that was gained by gutting wouldn’t have been fit to eat? When quartering the carcass, was it skinned first? If so, more critical time was wasted?

            If we believe what’s been written……that the bears had not visited the kill site….then by opening the cavity, Uptain essentially rang the dinner bell.

            Nothing will bring Uptain back, but based on everything I’ve read he was a great husband, Father, brother, and citizen……and very generous.

            Even in death Mr. Uptain was generous, he has taught us all that lack of preparation and planning can cost you your life.

          2. To Norma Jean:
            Thank you for such a great comment. I think your points are reflective of a woman who knows her way around other animals and I hope other readers listen carefully‼️

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