From the Green River Valley Museum archives: the Search for Carl Bain


Melvin David told this century-old tale to Toni David, who shared it with the Sublette Examiner and Pinedale Roundup in celebration of the Sublette County Centennial.

In 1923, there was a homesteader and trapper named Carl Bain. He used to run a trap line in the winter. He would travel on skis from his homestead near Dry Beaver, go to Deadshot’s, an old hermit that lived in the Hoback Basin, and spend the night and return the next day. Deadshot’s real name was Alexander Swenson.

One time, Carl Bain didn’t return when expected, so his brother, Barney, and some other neighbors, including Melvin David’s dad, Milt, gathered to form a search party. They headed out over the same route that Bain would travel and ended up at Deadshot’s to spend the night.

Old Deadshot was a hospitable neighbor; however cleanliness was not one of his virtues. He invited the party to spend the night. He had a sourdough jug that was pretty putrefied, but he proceeded to make sourdough biscuits out of it. So, that night he served sourdough biscuits and sow-belly (the sow-belly was rank, too). The men were trying to be polite and took the food on their plates, but they each snuck their food under the table t o the dog. The dog took the meat and biscuits from each of them. When they moved away from the table and looked under, the old dog had taken it from them all right, but laid them on the floor. He couldn’t eat the food either.

That night the boys got to thinking that old Deadshot would use the same sourdough jug to make pancakes the next morning, so they decided to put an old, dirty, crust sock in the jug thinking that old Deadshot would not use the sourdough when he found the dirty sock in it.

The next morning, old Deadshot goes over to his sourdough jug and starts to stir it. He found the sock with his stirring fork and lifted it up, stripped the sourdough from the sock back into the jug, threw the sock down and proceeded to make pancakes.

The search party was ultimately unsuccessful in finding Carl Bain. His remains were discovered the following spring on the Hoback Rim. He had fallen and was covered with snow.

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