A drifter suspected of assaults on two men in Rio Nido and Monte Rio on Tuesday swam across the Russian River to escape arrest and eluded authorities for several hours before a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy found him hiding in a densely wooded neighborhood near the Northwood Golf Club, the sheriff’s office said.

Jacob Haynes, 31, was involved in a dispute over ownership of a dog whose original owner had died when a Forestville man went to Rio Nido to find him and try to recover the animal, sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said.

But when the 40-year-old man got out of his car, Haynes, known to the victim only as “Shorty,” punched him several times in the face, causing the victim to flee, Crum said.

The victim came to the sheriff’s substation in Guerneville around 3:45 p.m. to report the incident, and deputies recognized Shorty’s description, based on prior experience with Haynes. The victim also picked Haynes out of a photo lineup and told authorities he thought he might be headed to the Monte Rio home of a third man purported to be the dog’s rightful owner, Crum said.

Deputies went to that house, in the 20200 block of River Road, but Haynes ran as soon as he saw them, Crum said.

They then learned from the resident, a 58-year-old man, that Haynes had turned up with a claw hammer in his waistband that he swung at the man, hitting him in the forearm. Haynes then reportedly picked up a 5-gallon propane tank and threw it at the man, hitting him in the arm again, Crum said. Then he jumped on the trunk of the victim’s Ford Mustang before deputies arrived, Crum said.

Haynes reportedly swam across the river to escape, climbed through rugged terrain and fled eastbound, hiding on various properties as deputies searched for him, aided by the police dogs and the sheriff’s helicopter overhead.

“We kept getting calls from people,” who saw him in their yards, Crum said.

A deputy hiking in a canyon near Old Monte Rio Road and Sunny Drive finally found Haynes around 6 p.m. He was hiding in a hollowed out burrow-like space in a thicket of bushes about a half mile from the second victim’s house and on the other side of the river, Crum said.

Haynes, who divides his time between Rio Nido and the Central Valley town of Corning, was arrested for suspected assault with a deadly weapon, battery and resisting arrest.

He was later released after posting bond for $30,000 bail. The victims declined medical treatment, Crum said.

Information on the dog’s whereabouts was not available.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at (707) 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.