Lost Deer Hunter Survives on Woodsmanship Skills, Hunting and Eating Critters

It’s always a bit comical to read the mainstream media reports about someone who gets lost in the woods for more than 24 hours and somehow miraculously manages to “survive” without some kind of major assistance, a monstrous grocery store within sight or little else but a gun, bow and their wits.

Gene Penaflor

Gene Penaflor

The latest comes from California. We could say a lot about that state but it might take days. Suffice to say that to the majority of folks in the big cities there, someone getting lost while hunting and surviving on snakes, lizards, water and whatever else is big news. Given the fact that a bazillion vehicles, Nancy Pelosi and the possibility of an earthquake shearing off much of the state to create a long, skinny island all exist out there, living in the woods doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

But folks do, including hunters, which is where this tale unwinds. Gene Penaflor, 72, of San Francisco, was hunting for deer with a friend in the Mendocino National Forest in northern California. They split up for a few hours and Penaflor hiked about 2½ miles in some tough terrain. He fell, woke up a few hours later and couldn’t make it back to meet his buddy.

That began an 18-day ordeal in which Penaflor survived by drinking water he found and eating lizards, snakes and whatever he could kill or find. He was smart enough to have something with him to create a fire (always pack for emergencies) and keep that going during his ordeal.

Even when deer hunting, for what we think might be just a short trip or even an evening sit, if nothing else at least have a good flashlight and a way to start a fire. A lighter, some waterproof matches in a container, maybe a few small chunks of waxed fire-starter or dryer lint … something that can help you create a fire for cooking, warmth and peace of mind.

If you have a backpack or waistpack, definitely plan accordingly with any other gear you may need.

Penaflor was found by other hunters and carted out of the woods on a makeshift gurney. He survived his ordeal through wits, woodsmanship and a bit of luck.