UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. Saturday — A Jackson Hole businessman, hunting guide and father of five was found dead Saturday afternoon near where he was attacked while retrieving a client’s elk carcass Friday afternoon.
The body of Mark Uptain, a 37-year-old guide for Martin Outfitters, was discovered around 1:15 p.m. Saturday about a quarter-mile to the northwest of where he and client Corey Chubon were processing an elk that was struck by an arrow Thursday. The elk was located and attack occurred the next day. Pending an investigation, it’s unclear if Uptain had been fed upon, but Teton County Search and Rescue Coordinator and incident commander Jessica King said that his body was intact.
Wildlife managers, meanwhile, are setting out to catch the bear that took Uptain’s life.
“The guys on the ground did request supplies to catch bears,” said Brad Hovinga, regional wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Hovinga said that “all indications” are that the animal was a grizzly bear. The agency’s plan is to deploy foothold snares that will subdue animals caught alive, and to leave the devices in the field overnight.
Game and Fish staffers Brian Debolt, Brian Baker, Kyle Lash and Jon Stephens remained staked out in the field Saturday afternoon. The hunter-bear clash turned tragedy occurred in the Terrace Mountain area of the Teton Wilderness, about 6 straight-line miles from the Turpin Meadows trailhead.
“That country is so full of bears,” Hovinga said.
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.
The elk carcass was “undisturbed” when it was located by Uptain and Chubon, which suggests that the bear was not necessarily food guarding.
This aggressive behavior will be taken into account when making decisions about what to do if a bear is caught in the foot snares, and determined to be Uptain’s killer.
“That will certainly be considered in the course of action,” Hovinga said.
Hovinga was unsure if the implicated bear would be killed.
“Based on what we know at this point, we’re going to make an attempt to catch bears,” he said.
Uptain, originally from Casper, owns Blue Sky Services and Restoration, which has offices in Jackson and Star Valley. Speaking with the News&Guide in June about his business, he shared some details about his personal life.
“I enjoy spending time with Sarah and the kids,” Uptain said, “serving on the board of elders at First Baptist Church, riding horses, hunting and fishing, guiding hunting clients, biking, playing chess and staying fit.”
UPDATE, noon — A 20-person search continues in the patchy timber of the Teton Wilderness backcountry near Terrace Mountain, but through late morning searchers have had no breakthroughs in finding a missing Jackson Hole hunting guide.
Five 4-person teams are combing the area near where Martin Outfitters guide Mark Uptain was last seen Friday, when his bow-hunting client fled during a bear attack that involved multiple animals. That client, Florida resident Corey Chubon, was able to phone authorities, was flown out of the wilderness and, despite injuries, is in good enough condition that he was flying out of Jackson Hole this afternoon.
Uptain’s whereabouts, meanwhile, remain unknown.
“My understanding is that he saw Mark being attacked by a bear, and he also was being attacked by a bear,” Teton County Search and Rescue Coordinator and incident commander Jessica King said.
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.
The guide and his client were in the process of retrieving an elk Friday that Chubon had struck with an arrow the day before when two bears “aggressively changed.” Authorities have not ascertained what species of bear was involved in the attack, but the behavior is more typical of grizzlies. The Teton Wilderness is occupied grizzly habitat, and conflicts with hunters happen regularly.
Uptain, 37, owns Blue Sky Services and Restoration, a Jackson Hole business that specializes in fire and water restoration. The Casper-raised entrepreneur, who has five children, spoke with the News&Guide in June.
“I enjoy spending time with Sarah and the kids, serving on the board of elders at First Baptist Church, riding horses, hunting and fishing, guiding hunting clients, biking, playing chess and staying fit,” he said at the time.
After a helicopter deposits the fifth rescue team, it will begin flying a grid pattern to assist in the search. Another team of searchers are setting in on horseback.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.
ORIGINAL STORY, 8:45 a.m. — A search-and-rescue operation is underway to find an elk hunting guide who was attacked by a bear Friday in the Teton Wilderness.
The Terrace Mountain attack occurred Friday after Florida resident Corey Chubon was retrieving an elk while on a bow hunt with his guide, Mark Uptain of Martin Outfitters. Both men were injured, but the client managed to escape and alerted authorities. As of 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Uptain had not been located.
“Search and Rescue is currently in the field, and we’re making every effort to locate and bring Mr. Uptain out from the backcountry,” Teton County Undersheriff Matt Carr said in a statement.
The run-in occurred early Friday afternoon when the pair of hunters were retrieving an elk that had been struck Thursday. They were “aggressively charged by two large bears,” according to a release that did not identify if the animals were grizzly bears.
“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. Initial reports indicate that the second bear did not engage either Chubon or Uptain.”
An interagency helicopter was dispatched to the scene to assist with transport of the injured hunters, but only Chubon was flown to St. John's Medical Center for treatment.
The Teton County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Grand Teton National Park, and Bridger-Teton National Forest are all assisting in the ongoing rescue.
Stay tuned to JHNewsAndGuide.com for more information on this ongoing story.