For best friends Lee Wilson and Hilmar Skagfield, Hunted was all about distracting and misinforming their pursuers long enough to lay claim to $250,000.
Taking a slightly more confrontational approach than most of the other Fugitive teams, "The Wolves" were able to last the full 28 days by taunting the Command Center investigators and Hunters with bold diversion tactics and, on more than one occasion, braggadocio.
STREAM: The Entire First Season Of Hunted On CBS All Access
The guys' strategy paid off in the season finale entitled "The Final Escape," when they became one of only two teams to make it to the end on Hunted.
Following their victory, we caught up with Lee and Hilmar to talk about their epic win and how they succeeded. Plus, check out some behind-the-scenes photos they took during their journey.
First of all, how does it feel to be named one of the first two Fugitive teams to last 28 days on Hunted?
Lee Wilson: When we first began this adventure, we had absolutely no clue what we were getting ourselves into. We were loaded up on Ocean's Eleven, heist films, Hemingway, and we were carrying around some big ideas; but, we were not prepared for the toll a real-life manhunt takes on your mind, heart, soul, and body.
Our goal was to control the flow of information, cutting the hunters off from quick access to Hilmar's identity and network before flooding the Hunters with misinformation at the end—and it worked.
We accomplished everything we set out to achieve and, hopefully, changed the way the game of Hunted will be played in the future. Because of Hunted, we are now "the greatest white-hat Fugitives in history," and that's about as cool as it gets.
Hilmar Skagfield: Fantastic. It was an impossible task to go toe-to-toe with these minds, and to have called every shot from the start was extremely fulfilling.
When you finally got to the "Final Escape" portion of the game, how confident were you that you would get to your plane in time? What was going through your heads in that final stretch?
Lee: Ha! "Water... water... water..."
Because of the isolated location of the airport, it seemed highly unlikely to us that the Hunters would dispatch a Hunter team to Blairsville, Georgia. That made me confident.
But, we had to cover 3.5 miles on foot. That made me extremely nervous, knowing I wasn't physically ready. So, I did what I always do: ignore the discouraging data, focus on the encouraging data, and hope it works out in the end.
It did, and it was a massive relief and one of the most gratifying moments in my life.
Hilmar: The set up to the plane extraction was terrifying.
After 28 days of being undetected, save for a hacked website, we were going to pull money from a bank, allowing the Hunters to know our location immediately, and try to escape via running.
With the national forest and location, I thought we had a maximum of 45 minutes to run 3.5 miles and take off.
We completed that run close to that time frame, but I was under the impression they had reached the airport before us. It was not 'til the moment the wheels of the plane went up that I allowed myself to believe that we won.
What are you each planning to do with your shares of the prize money?
Lee: I am going to make up for lost time with my family.
The way I see it, I owe my wife and kids 28 days of my life: my wife Beth wants a week at the beach, my oldest kids both want to go to Disney. We will have to wait and see what the baby wants when he gets older.
Hilmar: Tarpon fishing.
Now that you've seen all the episodes, what was it like getting to see how the Command Center investigators and Hunters react to your various moves?
Lee: Every single thing we did while we were on the run was about controlling the movement of information—cutting off the correct data and then opening up the pipeline and letting bad data flow.
Since the entire game is played and scored in your head when you are on the run, you have no idea what moves land and what moves don't.
Watching Griff's phone blow up from the Craiglist ads, seeing the Hunters in HQ find the photo we intentionally posted of Beth's covert visit, and knowing that they never actually had a clue who Hilmar was... I loved every Hunter cringe and expression of consternation.
Hilmar: I enjoyed seeing them realize they were in trouble. To quote Aki, "They are in the wind."
What was it about your strategy that you think gave your team an edge over the other Fugitive teams?
Lee: We realized from the beginning that Hunted is, at its heart, a game. It's a brilliant game that simulates the pressure cooker of a real-life manhunt, but it's a game nonetheless.
As an escape-room creator, I understand the kind of game we were playing is primarily an information game. The second the Hunters are able to find the right information is the second they will solve the puzzle, find you, and your time on the run will be over.
If you can cut off access to good information, flood them with bad information, or shock them with unexpected moves, you can create gaps in their strategy that you can exploit.
And exploit them we did.
Knowing Hunted is a highly sophisticated game sets you free from running scared and allowing your strategy to deteriorate into a simple game of checkers against the Hunters.
In checkers, the side with the most resources invariably wins because they chase you down and leave you without options. So, Hil and I decided to approach Hunted as a game of chess, in which we may have limited pieces, but—with the right pieces and moves—you can out-strategize a numerically stronger opponent.
Hilmar: We created a complex set of strategies and communities to be both offensive and defensive.
Leveraging a diverse set of resources, we were able to create multiple strikes to keep the Hunters where we wanted them. We stayed on the move, but we never ran from the Hunters.
That is a fundamental difference between how we played versus other strategies we saw.
What escape tactic were you most proud of over the course of your time on the run?
Lee: We did so many things along the way that it's hard to choose a favorite, but the coordinated effort to post a photo proving my wife slipped away from surveillance while also simultaneously blowing up Griff's phone with responses to our Craigslist ads was amazing.
Yes, they were inspired by an antagonism towards the Hunters (Griff in particular, due to his snide "How's your blood pressure now?" comment to my pregnant wife), but they accomplished a strategic goal of creating coordinated chaos the Hunters had to sort through while we made our move north to the extraction point.
Hilmar: We had Josh Whitson completely remove everything but art and books from my apartment before the Hunters showed up, in the first hour of the game.
As you mentioned earlier, a huge moment for your team was flying Beth in for a secret visit. What was it like getting to have that brief moment of celebration during an otherwise harrowing journey?
Lee: From early on in the hunt we had a few favorite ideas for flustering the Hunters. The decision to fly Beth in was a huge boost to our morale.
For me, seeing my wife and learning together that we were having a baby boy was a huge lift.
For Hilmar, being able to orchestrate a bold and decisive move that revealed we were winning the information game was invigorating.
Hilmar: It was focusing. Having to be the point man to pull that off the move, logistically and through legal means, it kept me dialed in to the game in week three, when I was mentally fatigued from plotting places to crash. Being able to do that for Lee and Beth was wonderful, but I had a job to finish; this kept me sharp 'til the end.
You guys were also known for sending cheeky messages to the Hunters and Command Center investigators throughout your time on the run. Are you relieved that none of those things became your downfall, and did you ever think twice about them?
Lee: Instinctively, you second guess every decision you make while you are being hunted. You are afraid and aware you are vulnerable and in the dark.
We chose to resist that temptation to be victimized by indecisiveness and instead committed to choose a course of action and then barge forward, hopefully walking on water in the process.
We knew every decision could be our last, but we were not going to let that paralyze us or prevent us from playing the game with a little swagger. That's just who we are.
Hilmar: We never made a move that we couldn't cover. Craigslist and other moves of disinformation were done before exiting a community that we would never return to.
I enjoyed when we were informed they had just arrived in Savannah to interrogate an accomplice 12 days after having been out of their home. It is those moments on the run that added fuel to our bravado.
What would you say was the hardest part about being on the run?
Lee: The emotional toll of interrupting people's lives and having to rely on them was not something I had really prepared for. We had to work very hard at recruiting long-lost friends and strangers into our great adventure as white-hat Fugitives, hoping they would be enthusiastic and generous coconspirators.
We were incredibly fortunate to find so many warm, hospitable, and insanely generous people along the way—they are the real secret sauce of the Lost Wolves' success.
Hilmar: Lee and I operated brilliantly once we started getting used to how to work in this new environment, but I am usually operating solo in my work, so I had a hard time adjusting to working with a partner in this high-pressure situation.
Fortunately, we had done this before, so getting to a pace where we were anticipating each other's moves came quickly, around day six.
What was your biggest takeaway from your experience on the show?
Lee: Hilmar Skagfield can move mountains. There we so many times when I didn't see the way forward—the next place to stay or the next ride down the road—and Hilmar would square off with an uncertain set of circumstances and pull a miracle out of his hat.
Hilmar: That we are just two guys that have a specific skill set to accomplish the task of beating Hunters in a simulation.
The people that do this day in and day out and thwart many evil people's intentions have an enormous job, and do it brilliantly. They are the heroes.
Finally, do you have any advice to those thinking about trying to do what you did?
Lee: Attack the game like the Lost Wolves; we swallowed our fear, plunged into the thick of the hunt, stuck to our strategy, endured our missteps, and kept moving forward together.
Stream the entire first season of Hunted now on CBS All Access.