A pretty incredible tale of survival out of northern California, where a deer hunter lost in the Mendocino National Forest survived for 19 days. The most incredible parts: temperatures fell as low as 25 degrees; Gene Penaflor was at one point temporarily unconscious after falling down a steep slope; he's also 72 years old. Penaflor had set out with a fellow hunter on Sept. 24. They used what CNN terms a "common hunting strategy" where you split up to track an animal on two sides; Penaflor was a no-show at their meet-up lunch spot. Two days later, a search party set out, but after four days, it was scuttled by a storm. Though they set out again, it was a hunter who heard the man's calls for help and phoned authorities. Penaflor was roughly three miles from where he went missing, notes NBC Bay Area.
The hunter and his group sprang to action, making a rough stretcher from tree branches and their coats. They were able to carry Penaflor for several hours to rescuers and a helicopter. He recounts how he survived—eating lizards, frogs, and squirrels; foraging for algae; using a garbage bag and packing grass and dead leaves around him to stay warm, reports KGO. His family, of course, is thrilled to have him home. Says son Jeremy, "He's good. He's hanging in there. He looks like nothing changed except he grew a beard." (Read more missing person stories.)