During a brief but deadly melee on the slopes of Terrace Mountain, six air miles from the trailhead in the Teton Wilderness of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, a mother grizzly charged the pair as they field dressed a bull elk, according to information from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and OSHA.
Uptain’s 10mm Glock semi-automatic pistol was with a pack and shirt a short distance away, and Chubon’s bear spray was in a pack, the state agencies said. The guide was carrying his bear spray and used it before he died — but not, investigators believe, before sustaining mortal injuries — Game and Fish Regional Wildlife Supervisor Brad Hovinga said in an interview with WyoFile.
Apparently the pair had left the Glock out of their reach while dressing their kill. Then in the ensuing panic, the guy who grabbed the gun was either unfamiliar with its function, or panicked. Bear spray was deployed but unsuccessful.
Investigators found the Glock and its magazine in different locations, Hovinga told WyoFile. The evidence raised speculation that Chubon might have pushed the magazine release button below the trigger guard thinking it was a safety switch.
“In the process of trying to manipulate [it], we think he dropped the magazine, or it wasn’t engaged and it fell out when he picked [the pistol] up,” Hovinga said.
Bears will often be attracted by the gut piles left behind by hunters. In areas where hunts are common, bears associate the sound of gun shots with food. This is a good argument for having a round chambered when carrying a gun, especially in bear country. Hunters in bear territory will usually have one person dress the kill, while the other watches out (with a loaded gun) for bears.
There appears to many mistakes made in this instance. I won’t stand in judgement because anything can happen to anyone. You can come to your own conclusions. One thing is for sure, just having a gun will not protect you. Knowing how to use it, having it properly maintained, having it at the ready, situational awareness, and making sure people with you are familiar with its operations are all crucial aspects of having a gun. Whether it is in the wild, in your home, or in the streets…all these factors are in play.