Update: Fatal Grizzly Bear Attack on Mark Uptain, Bear Spray Failure, Throwing Glock

Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear

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

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.

  • 35 thoughts on “Update: Fatal Grizzly Bear Attack on Mark Uptain, Bear Spray Failure, Throwing Glock

    1. 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.

    2. What I don’t get, is why the ” Experts ” keep saying, that they’ll never know why this bear attacked? What the hell ? Because they’re bears… Grizzly bears ! That’s what they do when you’ve got something they want, like a tasty Elk… and sometimes for no reason at all ! It just bothers me the way these people think they know what these bears are going to do and how they’re supposed to act . There’s a reason so many of them were killed years ago, because, they are easily agitated, and fierce enough to take on multiple people, dogs, and even gun shot wounds . In my opinion, we’ve got too many Grizzlies for the amount of space available to them. Very sad to see so many people killed and mauled by these aggressive , over protected animals .

    3. I have read many articles and posts to articles about an empty chamber being best for carry. This just showed how stupid that is.

    4. When we went out hunting in the tundra, always had an armed guy with his head on a swivel guarding the guy dressing. 12 guage with 1.5 oz slugs and everybody carried a 44 magnum. We knew we were in their backyard, albeit a million acres of it. When you see pad prints the size of a correll dinner plate, see a smaller grizzley stretch 9.5 ft, and ccaws over 4 inches, you gain that knowledge you are not top of the food chain, but definately on the menu. The guy dressing had his gun within reach. Where I lived, the bears were 1.5 times bigger than conus Grizzlies. A pistol in 458 socom, 450 bushmaster or 500 Beowulf would be my choice now.
      We had dinner bell Grizzlies in the area. This means when they hear a shot, they know that means food. I know they were archery hunting, but fresh blood is the same thing. I dont know the laws there, but would hope that it would allow for carrying those calibers and or shotguns loaded with slugs.
      This is a terrible incident. Hopefully some sort of good will come out of it. God bless and Godspeed…..

    5. Spray does not work when the animal and or the man is relied up. Their senses are overpowered by anger, fear or what ever. Sad situation all around. What ever actually happened will not be known but it appears something was not planned correctly. God Bless Mark Uptain and his family.

    6. I wonder why there isn’t Lion spray in Africa or Tiger spray in India? Grizzly bears are the largest land predators in the world. Do you think the folks in Africa and India realize something that we in the USA are missing?

    7. I believe this was an archery hunt so no long gun. Bear spray studies in Alaska show the spray is more effective at deterence than hand guns. On elk hunts in Wy and Mt the guides carried neither spray or handguns. I ALWAYS had bear spray on my belt. However never saw a bear neither did any of the other hunters in camp. Sad story.

    8. I feel that there should be a movement to seek legal action against animal rights protection groups that stopped the grizzly hunt. It would not help Mr. Uptain at this point but maybe some one else. Also seek
      damages for his death from these groups. I noticed complete crickets from these groups when incidents
      happen like this.
      What the animal rights protection groups don’t understand is the biology of the creatures they seek to protect, they use an emotional plea with out science. This intern endangers the people who are in the field and in towns where wildlife becomes brazen and unafraid of people.

      1. Two guys go hunting in the wilderness. Two guys know that they are in the wilderness. Two guys know that larger predators are also in the wilderness. Two guys attacked by large predator in the wilderness.

        Your response is to blame and Sue the people that try to preserve endangered species. Species that are endangered most of the time because of human intrusion.

        Do I need to explain any further how ridiculous this is?

        Here’s a thought, I don’t know, if the threat of being killed by a grizzly bear bothers you maybe don’t go hunting for trophy animals in grizzly territory??!!??!! Just perhaps??!!!?

        Or you could just blame Peta and say that this would never have happened if those sissies would just let you carpet bomb all the grizzlies into Extinction. That way you can rest easy as you kill animals with projectiles anywhere on the globe knowing that you’re never in any real danger.

        Go fuck yourself grizzly food.

    9. Carrying a modern semi-auto in Condition 3 is suicidal! Under the stress of combat, one’s hands are transformed into sweaty, ten-thumbed paddles. When I went trough the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse gun phase, I was advised to load a round [d in the chamber, , close the action and then insert a fully loaded magazine into the grip. It is IMPOSSIBLE to experience a NEGLIGENT* discharge with a Glock, unless the trigger is fully cycled in that safe action pistol.

      Durabo

      * The only ACCIDENTAL discharge I ever experienced was the first time I had sex

    10. Another case of someone not being familiar with the how and the why of handguns and how to operate them. If you’re going into the wilds, it behooves you to be armed and fully trained on how to use it and how to correct misfires. The guide should have shown the bowhunter how his 10mm operated.

    11. The magazine in the pistol came out while the client was handling it. Even if the pistol could have been reached by Uptain, it would have done no good. Uptain was able to make it up hill, 30-40 yrds, that is where the sow followed up with deadly force. The bear spray was all over BOTH bears, showing aggression by both of them. Confirming why it was no question to take them both down. Also, the sow made a full charge at the investigators when they went to the location, the sow was taken down by all 4 investigators when that happened.

    12. Train, train again and train some more. Muscle memory is the key here. Add in the issue of semi-auto Stove Pipe Rounds jamming a in a breach slide, and here we have the perfect conditions, hence making of the recipe for a disaster. I have been there, seen semi auto malfunction happen numerous times.Why risk your life to a common problem? The answer is a large framed Revolver. such as a Ruger Redhawk or a Ruger Super Redhawk, chambered in 10MM or better yet, 45 Long Colt. Pull trigger, gun goes bang. Problem solved. You live to see another day. Ask any experienced Fly Fishing Guide why they pack a Large Framed Revolver… They get close, very close. Bears can hunt their pray, but they are great Fisher-bears too. Remember, you are trekking in their domain.

      1. It wasn’t his gun. Therefore it was not a training issue for the hunter.

        It does make one wonder why the guide, whose gun it was, would not carry it holstered, on his person.

        1. …probably because butchering elk in bear country has become routine for the hunting guide (probably harvesting 5+ elk per year) without any issues with bears whatsoever causing him to lower his guard believing there would never be an issue he couldn’t tackle…. then bam! …a bear faster than a speeding bullet jumps out of the bushes with zero reaction time to shoot from the hip. My guess.

          1. John Floyd I believe you hit the nail squarely on the head with your comment. I suspect the guide had little confidence that they’d ever recover the carcass anyway? Hidesight is seldom less than 20/20……but I have to believe that opening the cavity was the most critical error?

    13. I can’t understand why the hunter even bothered with a handgun in this incident. He had just shot and killed an adult Elk, I am assuming with a rifle of sufficient caliber to successfully take the Elk. So rather than retrieving a handgun (be it a 10mm or not) and then waste time fumbling with the handgun before discarding it when unable to operate said weapon, why didn’t the hunter just employ the long gun used to dispatch the Elk? The hunter was obviously familiar with the operation of the rifle. While I am not privy to the details of the incident or the subsequent investigation I assume this was an issue addressed by the investigators.

      1. He was bow hunting & killed the elk in that manner. No rifle was present the way I read the original story, hence, the pistol. Should have been on the owner (the guide), not in the backpack…but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

      2. I believe it has been mentioned earlier that this was an Archery Hunt. Therefore, no High-Powered Rifles were present. Lessons learned: Each and every person in the hunting party needs to be ARMED with the largest and highest powered handgun they are capable of using on VERY SHORT NOTICE. Said Handgun must be fully loaded and holstered on their persons; hip holster or some chest sling configuration where they can get it in action FAST.
        This must become standard drill and training for anyone going in a wilderness area.
        I am 68 and I can tell you I am always locked and loaded except when taking a shower.

        1. Thanks for that reminder. In my 60’s now with hoary frost on my chin. Regardless, in years gone by, when I have bow hunted for WT, or Bull Elk, I always have packed a large cal. revolver on my person, The Alaskan chest rig holster by Ruger, it fits the bill and makes access to the wheel gun quickly. Where I live in the Cascade Range, Black Bears and Cougars are many…..like I have said, we are in their domain, Much respect for that. My Old Man (RIP) taught me long ago about Territorial and Predator behavior. Look for food chain breakdown. The beasts are getting hungry. They need to eat too.

    14. It is extremely dangerous and downright FOOLISH to be in the woods, where you know for sure bears are out and about and you do not have a stout pistol and rifle ON YOUR PERSON, not in a bag, not 25 ft. away or anything as dumb as that my lord, come on people, WTF are you thinking seriously?? I guess if you roll the dice that way and you loose, well, you become a bear tooth-pick it seems. . . . .

    15. I do not trust bear spray. It only works 50% of the time. The reason I say 50% of the time is because half the time the wind will be in the wrong direction. I do a lot of bear hunting and could go forever but notice, the people that really push bear spray care more about the bears not being killed than about me living.

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