Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wyoming Bear Attack: Throwing Pistol and Running Fails to Stop Attack on Guide

Photo by Troy Nemitz

In a tragic story from Wyoming, Mark Uptain, a hunting guide, was killed by a grizzly bear on Friday.  His client fled the scene after throwing Mark a pistol. The two were retrieving an elk that had been wounded the previous day while they were bowhunting. The men were processing or packing out the elk when they were attacked by two large bears.

It is difficult to categorize this as a defensive use of a firearm when no attempt was made to fire the handgun. The handgun was reported to be in a pack when the attack started. It has not been recovered at the scene as of this time. From
Chubon, a Florida resident, was injured and flown to St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson on Friday, but was in good enough condition to have caught a flight out of the valley Saturday afternoon.

Chubon told investigators that he threw a pistol to Uptain before successfully fleeing and phoning authorities. Initial reports indicate that the second bear was present at the time of the attack, but did not engage either Chubon or Uptain.


Chubon reportedly was able to toss a handgun to Uptain before he ran from the attack scene, but authorities have so far not been able to locate that firearm

“Chubon was able to run to his pack gear a few yards away and retrieve a pistol but was unable to safely fire a shot at the bear that first struck Uptain,” the release said. “The attacking bear then spun, charged Chubon, grabbed his foot, and dragged him to the ground. He sustained injuries to his leg, chest, and arm, but was able to throw the gun to Uptain and get loose before running from the scene to phone for help.
Some commentors indicated that throwing a pistol to someone who is being attacked by a bear might not be an effective strategy or tactic.

No information has been released on what model or caliber of pistol may have been involved. The incident will be added to the list of bear attacks where a pistol was involved, for informational purposes. 

The most cited study about bear spray effectiveness does not count incidents where bear spray was at the scene but not used. 

In the most cited study about the efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska, incidents where the firearm is not used are not considered. 
We excluded incidents from our analysis where firearms were available but no attempt to use them was made.
It does not appear that an attempt was made to use the handgun accessed in this incident. If the client had thrown a can of bear spray to the guide, that would not have been a use of bear spray.

For this reason, the incident does not qualify as a failure in a pistol defense against bears.

This is a tragic case. One man was killed by a grizzly bear. One man will be haunted for the rest of his life by wondering if he should have acted differently. The story illustrates the wisdom of having defensive tools on your person and ready to use, instead of in a pack.
Handguns, when used to stop an attack, do so fairly reliably.

Update: Many unanswered questions in this incident. Were the guide and hunter mounted? It has been reported bear spray was used and failed.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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