Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- Some of the confusion and fog surrounding the fatal bear attack and failure of bear spray in Wyoming has cleared. The investigators have done their job, and much was learned from the evidence on the ground. The attack occurred on Friday afternoon, the 14th of September, in the Teton Wilderness in Wyoming, near Terrace Mountain.
The hunter, Corey Chubon, and Mark Uptain, the guide, had almost finished processing the 4×4 elk. Mark Uptain, the guide, was attacked first, as he was cutting off the elk’s head. The 250-pound sow grizzly gave no warning. She was first seen in an all-out charge downhill. As the bear mauled Uptain, Corey Chubon, the client, accessed a pistol at their packs, a few yards uphill from the elk.
The pistol involved did not belong to Chubon, the bowhunter who had shot the 4×4 elk. It belonged to Mark Uptain. Corey accessed the pistol, but could not get it to fire. As he was attacked, he tried to throw the pistol to Mark Uptain.
The pistol never reached Mark. The pistol was a Glock, most likely a Glock 10mm, which is becoming a popular choice for bear protection. From trib.com:
As the bear first hit Uptain, who carried bear spray in a hip-slung holster, Chubon went for a Glock that his guide had left with their gear a few yards uphill. For some reason, he could not get the handgun to fire. When the female grizzly diverted her attention away from Uptain and toward the Floridian, he tossed the pistol to his guide. Evidently, it didn’t make it to Uptain, who was a lifelong elk hunter, small-business owner and family man.
Within moments, the bear turned back toward Uptain. Chubon, whose leg, chest and arms were lacerated by the bruin, ran for his life. His last view of Uptain, which he relayed to investigators, was of the guide on his feet trying to fight off the sow.
Was a round chambered in the Glock? Many guides insist on carrying pistols, or firearms generally, without a round in the chamber. This can work if you diligently practice chambering a round when you draw the pistol.
If you are unfamiliar with semi-automatic pistols, you may not know how to chamber a cartridge, especially while being mauled by a grizzly.
In 45 years experience of pistol instruction, I have found it common for inexperienced people to lack basic knowledge about how to load pistols.
Throwing a pistol you are unfamiliar with, to the owner who knows how to use it, is reasonable if you cannot make the pistol fire.
In a similar situation 12 years ago, use of a pistol to defend against a grizzly was almost thwarted because the client could not figure out how to extract the pistol from the guide’s holster. Once he extracted it, he killed the charging grizzly at a distance of 10 feet. The bear fell three feet from him.
In the attack in Wyoming, Corey Chubon escaped the attacking grizzly and ran to the horses, which were tied uphill. He mounted a horse and rode to the top of the nearest ridge, where he was able to make a cell phone connection and direct rescuers to the scene. They arrived that afternoon in a helicopter. Corey’s father said it took two hours.
At some point, Mark Uptain emptied the bear spray he had in a holster on his thigh at the attacking grizzly. The investigators could smell the bear spray on the attacking grizzly’s head a day later when she had charged them and they had killed her.
Mark’s body was found about 50 yards uphill from the remains of the elk carcass. It appears he had walked the 50 yards. The bears had attacked him again in that location and had killed him with bites to the head.
The rescuers had found the elk carcass following directions from Corey Chubon, by 7 pm on Friday evening. We may never know if Mark Uptain was still alive at that point. He was probably in the timber, 50 yards away uphill. The Glock was later found a few yards uphill from the elk. The rescuers made the decision to return to base in the helicopter, without a team searching the site of the elk carcass.
There was less than an hour of daylight left. It has not been reported if any of the rescue team in the helicopter at 7 pm were armed.
About 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.