Missing Mendocino County hunter survived on squirrels, water

  • Gene Penaflor, 72, was released from Ukiah Valley Medical Center. (photo by Jeremy Penaflor)

"He kept his wits about him," Allman said. "He realized he didn't have energy to climb the mountain, he used his rifle to kill wildlife that came close to him and kept the embers going."

On Sunday, Penaflor was recovering at his home in San Francisco's Bernal Heights district with his family, Allman said.

"Other than being dehydrated, he was fine, he was joking around, he appeared very healthy," he said.

Missing Hunter Found In Mendocino National Forest


Penaflor's survival story began Sept. 24 when he and a friend set out to hunt deer in the national forest in an area known as Bloody Rock, sheriff's officials said. He and his hunting partner split up for the morning and planned to meet up for lunch at noon.

But Penaflor didn't show up, and his friend couldn't find him. The next day, his friend called the Sheriff's Office to report him missing.

Penaflor, meanwhile, had walked further away from the road than he'd intended and at one point fell and was knocked unconscious when he hit his head, he later recounted to deputies at the hospital.

He awoke enveloped in fog.

Penaflor walked until soon realizing he didn't know how to get back. He lit a fire and warmed himself with leaves and grasses he packed around his body.

Four days after Penaflor went missing, a search for the avid outdoorsman that had grown to include 16 volunteer search-and-rescue teams and other agencies was suspended.

They had covered steep terrain up to 6,200 feet, using numerous dog teams trained for searches, but found no sign of the man.

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