Lost in the wilderness: 72-year-old man survives 19 days, eating lizards, squirrels

When he came to, Gene Penaflor knew he had to do something. He didn’t know how long he’d been unconscious; just that he was in the wilderness, a man of 72 who had lost his way while hunting deer.

He had to quickly figure out how to survive, what to eat and drink, and how to stay warm.

And for almost three weeks, Penaflor did just that: subsisting on a diet of lizards, frogs and squirrels.

Penaflor was separated from his hunting buddy on September 24. At first, he tried find his way on foot out of the Mendocino National Forest, a vast nature preserve in northern California. But he was disoriented and quickly gave up.

He stayed put in hope that someone would find him. In his 19 days cut off from humanity, it snowed several times, and temperatures dropped to 25 degrees Fahrenheit some nights.

Then help came.

Penaflor made it to a hospital in the town of Ukriah on the edge of the forest, where his family surrounded his bed. Doctors checked him over and released him. He is back home, his son Jeremy told CNN.

“He’s good. He’s hanging in there. He looks like nothing changed except he grew a beard.”


Flank the deer on two sides; no matter where it runs, your buddy or you are pretty sure to bag it.

It’s a common hunting strategy. But it got Penaflor separated from his hunting partner on September 24.

They had split up at their base camp, walking over separate ridges, and were going to meet up down the path a few hours later for lunch. Penaflor never showed.

A day later, his hunting buddy reported him missing to the Mendocino County sheriff, who sent out a search party a day later assembled from nearly two dozen country and state law enforcement offices.

After scouring the mountain range on foot and with rescue dogs, and in the air for four days, they found no clues leading to Penaflor.

A hefty storm blew in, and they suspended the search.


Read more at CNN

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