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Lost hunter survived on squirrels

 Gene Penaflor was lost for two weeks forest in California.

Gene Penaflor was lost for two weeks forest in California.

SAN FRANCISCO — The 72-year-old hunter who was lost for more than two weeks in a California forest survived by eating squirrels and other animals he shot with his rifle and by making fires and packing leaves and grasses around his body to stay warm, his family said Monday.

Gene Penaflor of San Francisco was found Saturday in Mendocino National Forest by other hunters who carried him to safety in a makeshift stretcher, the Mendocino County sheriff’s office said in a statement.

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Penaflor disappeared after heading out with a partner during the first week of deer hunting season in the rugged mountains of Northern California, a trip he takes annually. The forest is about 160 miles north of San Francisco.

‘‘He goes hunting every year, and he comes home every year,’’ his daughter-in-law Deborah Penaflor said Monday outside Gene Penaflor’s small home in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. ‘‘We’d gotten a little complacent that he would always come back.’’

Gene Penaflor separated from his hunting partner for a couple of hours as usual to stalk deer. While they were apart, Gene Penaflor fell, hit his head and passed out, Deborah Penaflor said.

He woke up after spending what appeared to be a full day unconscious, with his chin and lip badly gashed. He noticed fog and morning dew and realized he’d been out for a while, Deborah Penaflor said.

Gene Penaflor had a lighter, a knife and water with him when he went hunting. But his daughter-in-law said the knife and water bottle somehow got lost in the fall.

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