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72-year-old hunter 'doing well' after 18 days lost in California forest

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Gene Penaflor recovering in hospital (Photo courtesy Jeremy Penaflor/KTVU)

A 72-year-old San Francisco man is resting at home following his rescue after he went missing for 18 days in the Mendocino National Forest while on a hunting trip. 

In an interview with KTVU Sunday, Jeremy Penaflor said that his father, Gene, was "just like he was when I saw him last, except his beard grew."

Gene Penaflor's ordeal began on September 24, when he and a hunting partner set off from a hunting camp in the national forest. The two men eventually separated, but agreed to meet up for lunch. The meeting never took place, as Penaflor slipped, fell on steep terrain, and lost consciousness. By the time he regained his senses, night had fallen, and Penaflor was forced to make a campsite for himself. 

The Ukiah Daily Journal reported Sunday that Penaflor survived in the Yuki Wilderness by eating squirrels, lizards, a snake, berries and algae and covering himself with leaves to stay warm.

A four-day search that started the next day was called off after no clues to his whereabouts surfaced. At least once, Penaflor spotted and attempted to signal a rescue helicopter, but was not seen. 

Another group of hunters stumbled upon the missing man Saturday and carried him out of the forest.

Mendocino County Sheriff's Office detective Andrew Porter said Penaflor was "laughing and joking around" and described him as "very upbeat" despite the ordeal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Click for more from the Ukiah Daily Journal

Click for more from KTVU.com

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