In Boise National Forest, the air is clear among the trees, where a young man is running for his life. He's torn, dirty and scared, turning to look behind him as he runs. Two young hunters wearing camo and carrying compound bows walk carefully through the trees nearby, trying not to disturb the wildlife. The young man is hurtling through the trees, alarming nearby deer into bolting. He looks behind him, and turns too late to avoid a low hanging branch. Shaking, he picks himself up from the forest floor, blood running from his broken nose.
The two hunters, Paul and Johnny, pause, wondering about the sound. Paul, the older brother, tells Johnny to challenge himself in order to hone his hunting skills. He tells him to take aim for the heart, avoiding the shoulder blades, in order to make a "quick, clean kill." Johnny is up for the challenge, and aims an arrow into the trees. He misses, but Paul brings the prey down with two shots.
They walk up to the still conscious man – the man they've been hunting – bleeding from the two arrows in his chest. Paul encourages Johnny, saying, "It took me a long time to get my first big one." Paul then pulls the arrows from the man's chest. The two happily walk back through the woods.
The BAU ladies are enjoying a "girls' night out" at a local bar. JJ and Garcia are at a table watching Prentiss who has gone to get their drinks. A man in a suit is chatting her up, as Garcia remarks, "We've only been here five minutes!" Prentiss invites the man back to the table, and introduces him to JJ and Garcia. "This is Brad – a real FBI Agent!" The three actual FBI agents play along, letting Brad dig a deeper and deeper hole for himself. Finally, Prentiss asks to see his badge, and when he can't show her, the three women pull out their badges and flip them open, one at a time. Brad walks off in defeat as JJ's phone rings, calling the women back to the office.
As the team collects in the conference room, JJ is talking about victims who had been abducted from Washington State and had been found in the remote woods of Idaho. A man and a woman, Shane Everett and Courtney Jacobs, were found dead in the forest, with similar entry and exit wounds through the chest - they were in the woods for at least 6 or 7 days before they were killed. There were no bullets found in or near the bodies, and they weren't dressed for hiking. Another victim - the young man - was found yesterday with similar wounds, but no identification.
Garcia leaves to pursue missing persons from Washington State as Reid and Hotchner discuss the complete lack of a sexual component to these crimes – the victims are both male and female and there is no molestation of the bodies. Hotchner also mentions the bark embedded in the last victim's face, as if he were too busy looking behind him to notice the tree in his path. All of the victims sustained other injuries. "There's only one thing you run that hard for," says Gideon, "your life."
JJ hands out files as the team continues to discuss the case on the BAU jet. The killer is able to transport young, fit victims from Washington to Idaho without getting caught. Of the 100 or so people reported missing in Idaho's wilderness every year, a third of them are never found which might be one reason the murderer chose this place. The remote and rugged area suggests the offender might be more comfortable in the woods, like they were a second home. Prentiss explains that her grandfather retired to a cabin in the French Alps, living completely off the land. For ten years he never came down off the mountain, living without running water or electricity. Prentiss spent a lot of time up there whenever her family was in France.
Garcia calls in on Morgan's computer, and tells the team that there have been 10 missing persons reported from Spokane, Washington, and all of those missing have been in their early twenties. Abductions are always in the spring, and the victims' cars are never recovered. The local police have also identified that latest victim – Alex Harrison – who was traveling to work in Spokane when he went missing. Both victims last year were also traveling to Spokane when they disappeared. She has already researched major routes into the city and she reads them off as Gideon, who is scrutinizing a large map, follows along. "There are four major roadways into Spokane – Highway 395, 195 and Highway 2. There's also Interstate 90." Garcia clicks off with the mission of finding out if any 911 calls could be traced to the disappearances. The team will need to break up into two groups – one going to the woods in Idaho, and one heading to the local police in Spokane. Gideon, Prentiss and Morgan volunteer to head to the woods, while JJ, Reid and Hotchner will go to Washington.
At the Sheriff's Station in Deer Park, Washington, Hotchner begins discussing the victims: two male and one female of about the same age, but from different socio-economic backgrounds, with little in common except the road to Spokane. Reid mentions that they had something else in common – broken bones – each had a fracture of some kind. Whatever weapon was used went through the front of the chest and completely out the back, leaving soft tissue and organ damage. Each victim always has exactly two wounds.
Sheriff Raymond Schaeffer enters the room and introduces himself. JJ asks the sheriff if he's notified Alex Harrison's family of his death, and the sheriff responds that he was waiting for them to arrive before telling Harrison's father of his son's death. "I could use the company." JJ agrees to go along, and, since this is his first notification, to give him some tips about the procedure.
Morgan and Prentiss arrive at Boise National Forest and are met by Ranger Lizzie Evans. Although she's sympathetic that they've had a long drive up the mountain – and a flat tire – the ranger urges them to get moving as they want to be off the mountain by nightfall.
JJ has given Sheriff Schaeffer advice on the way to deliver the bad news to Alex Harrison's father, Timothy, and he remembers it as he speaks with Mr. Harrison. She's told him to ask the person to sit down, as she once had a woman faint and hit her head, and then she had to give her the bad news a second time at the hospital. Timothy refuses to sit down, instead standing in front of a mantle and shelf full of Alex's pictures and sports trophies. As the sheriff begins to tell him they've found his son, Timothy is at first relieved, but then, as JJ goes on, he is devastated, and accuses them of lying. Although JJ encouraged the sheriff to show his emotion, and share that with the family, Sheriff Schaeffer told her the "First rule on the police force, Agent Jureau, is: no crying." But he can't help tearing up when he witnesses Mr. Harrison's grief. JJ explains that Alex was probably murdered, and wonders if he could answer some questions. Timothy talks about Alex's life – how he was physical, a great football player with great instincts. Sheriff Schaeffer is at a loss to comfort Mr. Harrison, but JJ says they will stay with him until his family arrives.
Ranger Evans leads Prentiss and Morgan through the woods, talking about how growing up in the forest helps her do her job. She stops and asks them to look around, but neither of the agents notices the large black bear moving only 25 yards to their right until she points it out. Arriving at the crime scene, both agents comment on its remoteness, and how it would be almost impossible to find without being familiar with the area. The ranger notices two sets of boot tracks. Prentiss points out two areas of higher ground that look down on where the victim died. Vantage points are often used by hunters to watch their prey. Prentiss and Morgan come to the conclusion that the murders were committed by two hunters working together – with one wound for each offender.
Gideon is in town looking for information at the gun and ammo store when he notices a dead deer in the back of a pick-up truck. A teen-aged boy meets him and advises him that he'd better hurry, all the groups are filling up. He asks Gideon if he likes to hunt bear, but Gideon tells him he likes to pick up his meat at the grocery store. Gideon reads the notices on a nearby bulletin board as the teen tells him the mountain is going to get very busy in three days when hunting season opens. Their mountain was written up in a travel magazine, and has drawn many tourists to the area. Gideon asks the boy what weapon he would use to bring down a 100-200 pound animal. He's told that a shotgun or a compound bow would be the most popular weapons, with arrows giving the "most effective kill". Gideon takes out his cell phone.
Hotchner puts Gideon on speaker, and Gideon asks Reid if an arrow from a compound bow could have left the wounds in the victims. Reid agrees that it could. Gideon tells the two that the victims are taken to the woods to be hunted like wild animals.
Seven miles outside of Spokane, Washington, a woman in a red Mustang is having engine trouble. She dials her cell phone as she pulls off the road, but the signal is lost. Luckily, a tow truck pulls up in front of her and two men get out and approach her car. Leaning in her windows from either side, Paul and Johnny smile at her, and Paul asks if she needs any help. She can tell something is wrong, and glances at her cell phone, but there is still no signal.
In both locations, the teams are giving local officers the profile. They are looking for at least two offenders in good condition – they'd need to be to survive in the forest. Because they show no sexual interest in their victims, they are either developmentally immature, or they are related. Immediate relatives don't even discuss sexual encounters let alone perform them in front of each other. They could have an "us versus them" mentality and their bond will be unbreakable. Hunters make their kills quick, putting animals out of their misery, but these killers like to watch their victim's die slowly. The killers take their victims – healthy, smart young people – out to the woods and wait for them to try to escape. Like a trophy hunter, they plan their victims with care – and where and how to kill them.
Hotchner asks Garcia to get him a list of hunting stores in Spokane County when JJ brings a woman in to talk with Hotchner and Reid. Her friend, Bobbi – the young girl in the Mustang – has gone missing, and she was on her way to a job interview in Spokane when she did. She's only been missing since last night, but Hotchner isn't going to wait – he faxes a picture of Bobbi to Gideon.
Even though it's only been three days since Alex Harrison's death, Gideon believes Bobbi is the next victim. It will only be two days until the area is crowded with hunters, offenders had to move quickly. Ranger Evans orders road blocks.
Bobbi is lying in the bed of a pick-up truck, her wrists, ankles and mouth duct-taped. She can only see the back of the two men in the front seat, and the trees going by through the back windows. When the truck stops, Paul and Johnny pull her out and lay her on the ground. She struggles wildly and tries to scream through the tape, but it only sounds like a moan. Paul makes mocking noises as he uses a knife to cut through the tape and free her. She lunges to her feet and screams over and over again, but they advise her that no one can hear her and she should save her strength. Paul let's Johnny tell her what's going on, but Johnny just pulls his bow from the back of the truck and tells her to run. Bobbi sees the forest all around her and realizes the situation. She picks a direction and begins to run.
Garcia has traced Bobbi's last two cell phone calls to 911, but the signals were lost after only a few seconds. The calls were placed from Highway 2, but, when cruisers arrived at the location there was no sign of her or her car. Garcia has also not located the cars of the other victims.
Ranger Evans is not hopeful that they'll be able to find these hunters among the 3 million acres of forest when the two crime scenes they do have are miles apart. Both scenes were in low-lying areas, with many higher vantage points. The hunters may have blinds built into the area where they can keep track their victims for miles.
Bobbi stumbles through a campsite where two couples are rolling up their sleeping bags. She begs for their help, and tells them that two guys are trying to kill her. An arrow suddenly appears through one man's chest, and another hits a nearby tree. Bobbi tries to tell them to run, but before they do, one of the women is shot and falls to the ground. The three scramble down the hill away from the hunters. "Now it's gonna get fun," comments Paul.
Heather and Luke, the couple running with Bobbi, are angry that Bobbi has pulled them into her problems. She explains her story, and Heather believes her, but Luke is still skeptical. They agree to stick together.
Garcia sends Hotchner the addresses of three sporting goods stores that carry the types of arrows he's looking for. At one store, Hotchner, Reid and Sheriff Schaeffer ask the manager if she keeps records of bow and arrow purchases. They describe two men to her, one being dominant, who always does the talking, and the other – the submissive – who is painfully shy. She remembers brothers who have been coming there for years who got supplies a few days ago. Their uncle passed away years ago – his name was Joe Mulford. Garcia finds a long criminal record of assault for Joseph Mulford, who had owned a service station but willed it to his nephews, Paul and John Mulford. The service station is located on Highway 2 very close to the abduction sites.
As night falls in the forest, Prentiss tells Ranger Evans that they need to hope Bobbi has found a safe place to spend the night. Luke, Heather and Bobbi are crouching together, trying to keep warm. Luke's flashlight goes out, and they hear noises in the trees. But Paul and Johnny are going to wait for first light to hunt again – "it's more fun when they're not expecting it."
In the morning, Ranger Evans tells the team that two couples that were camping in the woods are missing. She's going to organize a search and rescue. Gideon feels there must be a connection – the hunters may be looking for more challenges. They head off to the couples' registered campsite.
The Mulfords' service station is not open when Hotchner, Reid and Schaeffer arrive. Guns drawn, the three look through the building but no one is there. Out back, Reid uncovers Bobbi Baird's red Mustang.
The team searches through the wreckage of the couples' campsite. Everything has been ripped open and destroyed, and there is blood on the ground. There are also higher vantage points that give a clear view of the victims. Standing under a tree nearby, Prentiss feels something wet dripping on her face and looks up to see both victims strung up in the trees. The rangers cut the bodies down and lay them out. Gideon surmises that Bobbi ran towards voices and brought the hunters down on the innocent campers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hotchner has called to tell the team about the Mulford brothers, and Ranger Evans tells them they will look for the Mulfords' vehicle.
As Heather, Luke and Bobbi run, Johnny shoots Luke through the chest. The girls run to him, and Heather tries to stop the bleeding, while Bobbi grabs the knife Luke wore on his belt. Bobbi tugs at Heather, urging her to run while Heather kneels by Luke's body. When Johnny wants to shoot them, Paul tells him not to – it's too easy. Bobbi and Heather run off.
At the Mumford service station, JJ and Reid find cargo containers with the vehicles of other victims in them. There are dozens of these containers on the service station lot. "We're looking at a lot more victims," says Hotchner.
The rangers help the team follow the tracks from the campsite through the forest.
Inside the Mulford home, Reid opens a cabinet to find dozens of drivers' licenses pinned to the inside of the door. The oldest license would have expired in 1980, before the boys were even born. The uncle must have started the killings, and the boys continued them.
In the forest, Bobbi suddenly stops. She knows that the hunters want them to keep running so they can hunt them down. She has another idea.
Garcia reads the Mumford's records to the team as they continue to search the house. Paul and Johnny, 26 and 22, were orphaned and raised by their uncle. They never went to school, and were raised by a psychotic man who taught them how to hunt and kill people. Hotchner finds a photograph of the two as boys posing in the Boise National Forest and realizes they have been hunting in those woods all their lives.
Bobbi and Heather are now hidden in the forest, waiting for the brothers. When Paul and Johnny separate, Heather throws something to get distract Johnny, but he sees her and aims his bow. As he shoots Heather, Bobbi attacks him with the knife she took from Luke, stabbing him in the stomach again and again before running off. Paul hears his brother's cries and runs back to him. Bobbi is watching through the trees.
Gideon watches from a hillside vantage point as rangers go through the Mulford's truck they've found. Ranger Evans approaches with the identities of the two campsite victims: Joel and Taylor Brouse. Morgan calls Gideon on the radio and asks him to get to higher ground. He sees a plume of smoke on a hillside in the distance.
The smoke is from a fire Paul has made to keep Johnny warm while he finishes hunting Bobbi. Johnny is crying, hurting and scared, and Paul is tender with him, holding his hand before he grabs his bow and leaves. Bobbi is screaming, looking for Paul in the trees. Paul hears her and quietly follows her voice. Morgan, Gideon, Prentiss and Evans approach the campfire, guns drawn. When they see that Johnny is seriously wounded, Gideon kneels down next to him, and tells him they'll take care of him, and will get him out of there. When he asks if he's here alone, Johnny motions down the hill where Morgan and Prentiss find Heather's body. They also find a compound bow about 25 feet from the body.
Bobbi takes refuge in a huge tree with lots of branches, and crouches quietly, waiting for Paul.
Rejoining Gideon, the three discuss the young man they found. His wounds are not like any of the previous victim's wounds – he was stabbed, not shot with an arrow. Gideon tries to talk with him, telling him there are FBI agents looking for the men who hurt him. Johnny is frightened, shaking his head. He pleads that Gideon not shoot his brother, he's all he has. Gideon is gentle, asking Johnny his name, and asking him where his brother is. He finally tells them he's gone a half-mile to the east. Prentiss and Morgan take off.
Paul has followed Bobbi's trail and walks slowly under the tree. She leaps out onto his back and knocks him down, stabbing him twice in the back before she runs off. Paul follows, shooting. Morgan and Prentiss move in, telling Paul to drop the weapon. As Paul moves to shoot Bobbi, Morgan shoots him three times.
Johnny hears the shots and begins crying harder. Gideon comforts him as he weakens and dies. Gideon gently shuts his eyes.
Paul lies dying as Prentiss stands guard over him. Bobbi asks if he's dead and Prentiss replies, "Soon." Bobbi asks her how they could do something like this. Prentiss says, "Because they don't think like you and me." Bobbi leans down to speak to Paul. "How does it feel, you son-of-a-bitch? Looks like I had all the fun." Paul dies.
On the flight home, Gideon and Hotchner sleep, while Reid and JJ read. Morgan notices that Prentiss is silently staring out the window and sits down across from her. "I've never seen you look so…" he begins. She tells him about Bobbi's last question to her, about how the brothers could hunt and kill people in the woods. She doesn't believe her answer, that they "don't think like we do." "The truth is," she begins, "that we do think like them." Morgan tells her they do because it's their job. Prentiss wonders how different they really are.