How To

How to master hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2

Alex LaFreniere

Alex LaFreniere


Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t just about killing outlaws and robbing banks. As a frontiersman in the Wild West, knowing how to hunt is an essential part of playing Red Dead 2. Over 500 species of animal exist in the Red Dead game world, and you’ll have to hunt at least a few of them over the course of playing. As a player, hunting will net you access to valuable resources, challenges, supplies, and unique outfits and rewards. Take a look at the guide below for tips on how to become a master hunter.

How to master hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2

Choose your tools wisely

red dead redemption 2 bow
The bow is a hunter’s best friend.

Before you even set out on your hunt, you’ll want to make sure you’re carrying the right tools for the job. First and foremost, this means weapons. While you can theoretically hunt with any weapon in the game, the effectiveness of the hunt and quality of your kill will depend on your choosing the right weapon for the right game. For example, if you use a double-barreled shotgun to hunt rabbits, you’ll end up obliterating your target and won’t have much animal left to skin or harvest.

For smaller game, the general rule of thumb is to take along either your bow or a varmint rifle. The bow has many distinct advantages. Firstly, it’s totally silent, meaning you won’t necessarily scare off your quarry if you miss. However, it’s difficult to make rapid follow-up shots, as you need to load a new arrow and draw the bow each time. The varmint rifle is more rapid fire, but the loud gunshots will run the risk of driving other game away from you. For larger game, such as bears, shotguns or bolt-action rifles are more appropriate. The large caliber bullet will make short work of larger prey, and the high damage generally means a follow-up shot won’t be necessary if your aim is true.

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In terms of other equipment, you may consider crafting or bringing along bait of some kind. This is generally useful if you want to draw out specific prey such as a legendary animal or if you want to set up an ambush in a particular spot. For more serious hunting trips, you’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of ammo, and should also consider cleaning out your satchel to make room for the supplies you’ll be harvesting.

The basics of tracking

red dead 2 scent trail
A scent trail.

Once you’ve chosen your tools and have ridden out into the wilds, your first order of business will be tracking your prey. Use your Eagle Eye ability to take a look around an area. You’ll see animal tracks and trails marked with blue wisps around you, and you can use the R1/RB trigger to focus on a specific track and begin following your prey. Move slow and in a crouch to be sure you don’t scare the animal off.

You’ll also notice that in Eagle Eye you’ll be able to see your own scent in green, blowing with the direction of the wind. Move with the wind to make sure you stay downwind of your prey, or they’ll bolt if they catch a whiff of you. Using a bottle of scent blocking lotion will also mask you so you don’t have to worry about your scent.

red dead redemption 2 hunting
Lining up the shot.

After you’ve trailed your animal, you can study your quarry by holding down the R1/RB button. This will net you important info about the animal you’re hunting, and if you upgrade the ability enough, you’ll be able to see the kill quality on a scale from Poor to Pristine. As a general rule, poor quality animals aren’t worth the time or ammo.

Finally, it’s time to take the shot. When hunting, take your time and always go for headshots so as not to damage the pelt. If you’re using the bow, however, keep in mind that aiming too long drains stamina and will cause you to shake and lose your target. For more daring players, you have the option to call out to an animal. They’ll look for the sound, quickly exposing their head for a moment before bolting. You need to have quick reflexes or a full Dead Eye meter to make use of this high risk, high reward ability.

Harvesting the kill

red dead redemption 2 skinning
Skinning the carcass.

Finally, the most important part. After you’ve killed the animal, approach the carcass and you’ll be presented with a few options. Firstly, you can skin the carcass right then and there. This will harvest any available meat or other resources, and will generally present you with a pelt for you to transport to any nearby vendor. This is a quick and easy method to net immediate supplies from a carcass and get some quick food, but there are a few drawbacks as well. Chief among these drawbacks is that if you do decide to transport the rest of the carcass, it’ll decompose much quicker, and you won’t net as good of a price for it at vendors.

red dead redemption 2 horse carcass
Transporting the kill.

Alternately, you can load your kill onto your horse for transport to the nearest town or trapper. You can also bring it to your camp to give to Pearson, which will net you positive points with the gang and contribute to group resources. Depending on the animal, Pearson can also craft you unique items. Trappers also have a unique collection of craftable items and outfits, and will generally pay better for hunted animals than other vendors.  Since trapper outposts are generally scarce, we recommend loading up your horse with as much game as possible before making the trip.

Again, just keep in mind that game on your horse will begin to decompose over time, which affects the animal quality and how much you’ll be able to sell it for. Also of note is that animals unique to a certain region, like desert areas, will generally sell for more in other regions that the animal isn’t native to.

If you need a few other pointers, check out Hosea’s mission Exit Pursued by a Bruised Ego. This is a hunting tutorial mission available early in the game that will also give you access to a relatively easy Legendary Bear hunt. With these tips under your belt, you’ll become a veteran big game hunter in no time!

Alex LaFreniere

Alex LaFreniere

Alex's first experience with video games came at the tender young age of 12, when his parents gave him and his brothers a PlayStation 2 for Christmas. They’ve probably been regretting that mistake ever since, because as soon he finished his first lap in Gran Turismo 3, Alex was hooked for life. In addition to writing for Softonic, Alex has turned that love of games into a voice acting career, and has voiced everything from grizzled old soldiers to vampire lords. When he's not gaming or getting behind the microphone, Alex can probably be found wandering the woods around Boston or putting together some new culinary delight in his kitchen.

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