D. G. Reilander

As the unfortunate victims of a Grizzly attack found out recently, simply having a pistol will not stop an attack—it has to be loaded and ready.

On September 14, hunting guide Mark Uptain and bow hunter Corey Chubon were processing an elk that Chubon had shot the day before when they were attacked by a pair of grizzly bears. The attack was swift, with Uptain getting charged out of the blue. Chubon bore the bear’s wrath next, and then the bruin went back on Uptain. The gun was out of Uptain’s reach, and Chubon made a run for it.

To defend against ill-tempered bruins, Uptain carried a semiautomatic Glock 20 chambered in 10mm, which is considered to be good medicine against grizzlies. But at the time of the attack, a report by the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that, “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…” before the two began field dressing the elk, as reported by Wyofile.

Unfortunately, Uptain would perish as a result of injuries sustained in the attack. When investigators returned to the scene they would find the pistol and magazine in separate locations. They ascertained that Chubon went for the pistol when the bear charged, but was unable to make the Glock fire. The chamber was likely left empty, and when Chubon, who was unfamiliar with the gun, was manipulating the handgun under stress he inadvertently caused the mag to drop.

I spent a summer in the Alaskan Bush, working in the heart of black bear country. Even on our boats, there was always a 12-gauge pump nearby. If we ventured into the alders, the guns were slung over the shoulder of each team member. And more importantly, everyone knew how to use it—even those that weren’t “gun people” received enough training and instruction that they were proficient enough to hit a charging bear silhouette. It’s simply not enough to have one; you need to know how to use it.