U.S.A. -(Ammoland.com)- On Friday afternoon, the 14th of September, Mark Uptain, a hunting guide, and Corey Chubon, a bow hunter, were attacked by grizzly bears as they processed an elk carcass. Chubon had mortally wounded the elk with an arrow, the day before, but they had not recovered it before nightfall.
They came back the next day and followed a good blood trail to the dead elk.
They had nearly finished processing it when they were attacked by the grizzly bears. The attack started with a full out charge. Uptain was hit by the bear first, then Chubon, then the bear went back to Uptain. Chubon fled and survived, getting help.
The investigations have nearly finished, and some questions have been answered. It was known that Mark Uptain's Glock 20 10 mm semi-automatic pistol was with the hunters' packs. People have wondered why the pistol was in a pack, where it did little good for defense from bears. The Glock 20 was the only firearm at the scene of the attack.
The pistol was not in a pack. Mark Uptain was wearing the Glock in a chest holster. He deliberately took off the pistol, took off his shirt, and placed both the pistol and his shirt near the two packs. Processing big game tends to be a bit messy. From wyofile.com:
Before the two began field dressing the elk, “the guide removed an automatic pistol that he carried in a chest holster as well as his shirt and left them with the two men’s packs a short distance up the hill from the carcass…” OSHA wrote in its fatal alert.
It seems unlikely that Chubon received any training about the Glock 20. When Uptain was attacked, Chubon was able to reach the Glock while the bear was engaged with Uptain. He was able to extract the pistol from the holster. He had time to shoot. He could not make the pistol fire. From wyofile.com:
The bear hit Uptain as Chubon went for the pistol. “He said he had [the Glock],” Hovinga told WyoFile. “He had a hard time trying to find a clear shot.”
Chubon tried to shoot the bear, Hovinga said. “He grabbed [the pistol], was unable to make it fire,” Hovinga said. “There was not a round in the chamber, so the gun was empty. He couldn’t make the gun work.”
After hitting Uptain, the grizzly quickly turned and bit Chubon in the ankle.
“He swung me around in the air,” Chubon told WKMG Television in Orlando, Florida, near where he lives. That’s when Chubon threw the pistol toward Uptain.
It was “a matter of seconds” during which the bear attacked Uptain, turned on Chubon and then returned to further maul Uptain, Hovinga said.
But the Glock, “it didn’t make to Mark [Uptain],” Hovinga said. “The hunter fled.”
The report confirms speculation I made on September 24th, that there was no round in the chamber.
The Glock pistol and the magazine were found in different places. It may be that Chubon activated the magazine release in an attempt to get the pistol to work.
It is not unknown for someone unfamiliar with a pistol, trying desperately to get it to fire, to press the magazine release while attempting to deactivate a safety.
In a case twelve years ago, a client had great difficulty removing a pistol from his guide's holster. Similar to this case, the pistol had been hung in a tree a bit away from the carcass, in that case, a moose, the client and guide were processing. The client was finally able to do extract the pistol from the holster. The grizzly bear stopped hunting the guide and came at him. He killed it with the pistol. The bear dropped only three feet from him.
In the Wyoming case, after the bear left Uptain it attacked Chubon. Chubon, unable to make the pistol work, attempted to throw it to Uptain while Chubon was being mauled. It is unknown if Uptain was ever able to reach it. He had not reached it by the time Chubon fled to get help.
With no round in the chamber and no magazine in the pistol, the Glock was rendered useless, if Mark Uptain ever got to it.
Uptain had bear spray holstered on his hip. Chubon did not recall Uptain using the bear spray to the point where Chubon fled to get help. Uptain emptied the bear spray at some point during the fight. The 250-pound grizzly sow had evidence of bear spray on her. Mark Uptain was killed in spite of the bear spray.
Carrying a semi-automatic pistol with an empty chamber is known as carrying in condition three, terminology used by the renowned gun writer, instructor, and competitor Col. Jeff Cooper. It is also known as “Israeli Carry”, because it is how Israeli soldiers are trained to carry semi-automatic pistols.
It can work well if the user trains to always load a round from the magazine when the pistol is drawn from the holster. As a safety feature, if an untrained person accesses the pistol and tries to fire it, they may not know how to load a round into the chamber and can be stymied in their effort to fire the pistol.
This is positive if the person accessing the pistol is an assailant. It does not work if the person accessing the pistol is trying to save your life.
The bears had not found the elk before the hunters did. The attack was an aggressive charge without warning. People who witness an attack are often able to shoot the bear off of the person being attacked or to kill a bear that is mauling them. Pistols have been surprisingly effective at stopping attacks.
Bear spray has also been credited with stopping attacks, but the research has been muddied by different criteria being used in bear spray and firearm research papers. Different criteria were used to select incidents in the bear spray and firearm studies. Comparing the studies is inappropriate. The study authors refuse to release their data.
One problem with bear spray is it does not kill the bear. Most bears that attack humans are eventually killed. Killing them at the scene of their attack prevents further attacks. Bears that have been sprayed have been known to repeatedly come back.
In the recent Wyoming case where Mark Uptain was killed, both bears were killed by investigators at the scene.
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.