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Associated Press

GREAT FALLS (AP) - Authorities say a 16-year-old boy lost in the woods for three nights kept his cool, surviving by taking shelter in a cabin and dining on pancakes and stale potato chips.

"He must have gotten some good training somewhere down the line," Fergus County Sheriff Ron Rowton said of Craig Metcalf. "He went somewhere safe and stayed there and kept himself warm. Because of that, he survived this weather."

Metcalf, of Lewistown, became lost Saturday while hunting for antlers with three cousins in the Barrel Springs area near the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

Metcalf said he spent Saturday night huddled under a tree, then hiked Sunday until he found a cabin, which he broke into through a window and made himself some pancakes.

He said that he was never worried he wouldn't be found. He made fires at night to stay warm and walked down the narrow road leading to the cabin during the days, hoping he might see someone.

"I was going to try to find my way out myself," he said.

Searchers found him on the road Tuesday.

Jerry Ritchie, acting undersheriff in Petroleum County, said Metcalf was in such good shape when searchers found him, it looked as though he had done nothing more strenuous than take a short hike.

Metcalf's parents were ecstatic their son was found not only alive, but completely unharmed.

"I knew in my heart that he was safe," Mary Ann Metcalf said. "God gave me that comfort that he was safe."

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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