Winchester backcountry expert offers wisdom on ‘America’s Most Wanted’

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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Through the years, “America’s Most Wanted” has garnered a strong reputation for making people aware of some of the nation’s most hardened criminals. 

Thankfully, with awareness and the expertise of those addressing the public on the show, many of these criminals have been nabbed to keep neighborhoods safer. 

One such expert being featured hails from right here in Winchester. 

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Craig Caudill, a backcountry skills expert and owner of Nature Reliance School appeared on “America’s Most Wanted” on the Fox network on Monday, February 12th, at 8:00 p.m. 

“The producers were looking for someone to ask [for] clarity on some survival aspects,” he said. “They found me, contacted me, and asked me if I’d be interested in being on [the show]…we were able to record [last] week.” 

Caudill, an author of multiple field guides dedicated to survival skills and more – including “Wild Woodcraft” due out in July – has been designated by the federal government as a subject matter expert in mantracking, a method of determining a lost or missing person’s direction of travel, thus reducing the search area in hopes of locating a person. 

While highly useful in search and rescue operations, the technique can also be found to locate criminals that might be on the run. 

“In this case, I was interviewed about a guy who’s broken out of prison twice,” Caudill said. “He might be living off the land, in tribal land out in Oklahoma.” 

While Caudill, who has been featured on Fox in a few previous segments, takes pride in teaching others survival skills and mantracking, he also acknowledged that hesitancy was a part of his approach. 

“I love being on and helping people being safe in the outdoors [but] what I’m always very cautious about is saying something that will help bad guys,” Caudill said. “I’m always willing to help good guys, and I like helping people put bad guys in jail.” 

A former teacher of martial arts and combatives, Caudill’s expertise has led him to train individuals as well as federal law enforcement agencies, special operations branches of the United States military, state agencies and more. 

Caudill, one of five guests on the episode, was chosen from a field of several candidates to be on “America’s Most Wanted.” 

The show is hosted by John Walsh, who created the show following the abduction and murder of his six-year-old son, Adam. 

Initially having run from 1988-2012, the show was revived in 2021, with Walsh returning to the role of host in December 2023.

Another son, Callahan, currently co-hosts the show. 

During the course of filming, in a studio featuring hundreds of individuals, Caudill noted in jest that the setting was somewhat different. 

“They put a little bit of makeup on me just to keep the shine off my face, [and] fixed my hair,” he said. “That’s unusual for a woodsman. I love being in the woods.” 

However, he also noted that the experience was very welcoming. 

“They were incredibly professional, very energetic, [and] very gracious to me,” he said. “[John Walsh] is a fantastic human being. What he turned that tragedy into is unbelievable.” 

Following his guest spot on “America’s Most Wanted”, Caudill’s plan is to continue operating Nature Reliance School, which features various online classes as well as training – often in Morgan County. 

To learn more, individuals can go to or view the organization by its name, “Nature Reliance School”, on Facebook.