Red Dead Redemption 2: How to hunt like a pro

There are several different ways to help support your community and yourself in Red Dead Redemption 2. This includes robbing stores, completing odd jobs, and collecting bounties for the local sheriff. The most reliable way to keep everyone happy, though, is to hunt animals in the wilderness. Animals ranging from the tiniest raccoons to the largest bears are available to hunt, but securing a kill in Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t about just killing an animal. You have to use the proper method for killing each target and properly use the corpse once you’re done. These are the Red Dead Redemption 2 hunting tips you need to know.

Also check out our beginner’s guide, cheat code guide, fishing guide, and horses guide for more help with Red Dead Redemption 2.

Tracking your target

Before you kill an animal, you obviously need to find one to kill. If you don’t have a particular target in mind, the easiest way to do this is to simply venture away from town and start exploring the world in front of you, but if you need a specific animal, open up your map. Here, you’ll see icons representing different animals, so long as you’ve discovered that area. If an icon pops up on the map, you’ll find it there more frequently.

Head to your desired location and begin searching. If the animal doesn’t appear right away, you have a few options. First, you can click on the analog sticks to activate Eagle Eye, which will show the paths of nearby animals.

You can also try crafting bait. This can be done by creating a camp and opening the crafting menu, though you have to have specific herbs and meats on hand in order for it to work. There are a few different types of bait, one for predators and one for herbivores, and you can unlock more potent versions of these. It might be best to head to the general store to stock up on hunting supplies if you want to take this route.

Once animals are in sight, it’s time to study them. Put the animal in your sights – you can use binoculars if they’re far away – and then look in the bottom-right corner of the screen to see their rating. One dot represents a poor-quality animal, while three represents a high-quality animal. Use this information to determine which one you kill. The higher the rank, the more valuable the animal is.

Choosing the right weapon, getting the perfect pelt/skin/hide

Depending on the size of the animal you’re hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2, you’ll have to use the appropriate weapon for your kill-shot. Failure to do this will result in a more difficult kill and a pelt too damaged to fetch much of a price from anyone, but it’s no sweat once you get the hang of it.

For smaller animals like foxes, you want to use a bow. One arrow should be enough to take down almost any of these animals, but make sure you get pretty close before firing your shot. Especially early on, your stamina will be very low, and this means your shot will start wobbling after just a few seconds. Even smaller animals like raccoons necessitate the use of a varmint rifle, instead. For the very smallest animals, you will want to use small game arrows, which can be crafted with standard arrows.

For larger animals like deer, you’ll want to make use of a rifle like the Springfield or the Rolling Block. These are capable of taking out most mammals with a single shot to the head, and you’ll still end up with a perfect pelt if you can pull off the shot. Repeaters can be used instead, but they are less accurate at long range, and you should only be taking one shot, anyway.

Even bigger animals dubbed “massive animals” can be taken down with carefully-placed shots from sniper rifles and even shotguns, if you’re using slug rounds.

The one exception to this rule is for “legendary” animals. They’re located across the map and will occasionally be the subject of a mission, and you don’t have to worry about damaging their skin. Blast away with your weapon of choice, including shotguns with normal ammunition. Standard bolt-action rifles will also work, but you have to hit a critical organ. Dead Eye comes in handy when trying to pull off these shots.

If you have any doubt about the weapon you should use for an animal, check your compendium. As long as you have studied the animal already, the suggested weapon for killing it will be listed. To access the Compendium head to the pause menu, followed by Progress > Compendium. Under the Animals tab, you’ll find all the creatures you’ve studied and from here, you can read about which ammo and weapon is best to take them down.

Securing the kill

Much like animals in real life, if a creature happens to see you running toward it at full speed in Red Dead Redemption 2, it’s going to bolt, and it’ll bring its friends with it. You need to get the jump on the animals you hunt by sneaking up on them, and there are a few things you can do to make this easier.

Firstly, as you’re entering a region that you believe to have animals in it, leave your horse several yards away. The horse’s footsteps can scare animals even more quickly than yours, but you want the horse to still be close enough to help with transporting the carcass away later or if you have to chase after your target.

Once you’re off the horse, click in the left analog stick to make Arthur crouch. This will force him to sneak and move more quietly, allowing you to get closer to your target before taking out your weapon.

After you’re in position, it’s time to take your shot. Pick the target you wish to kill — more on that below — and pull out your weapon. Aim for the head, and take your time lining up the perfect shot. If you’re having trouble getting the animal to put its head up, hit the Square button on PS4 or the X button on Xbox One to call out to them. This will give you a very limited window to take the shot before they lose interest. Again, Dead Eye does wonders here.

If you happen to miss the shot or fail to execute the animal, it’s not the end of the world, but there are a few things you should know. Failing to pull off the kill will likely result in the animal running away, so you’ll have to make a split-second decision if you want to take them out. Depending on your distance from the target, you might be able to simply try again, but now that the creature is running, it might be harder to pull off. Whatever you do, don’t just go guns blazing on them, because you’ll risk ruining the pelt.

Take your time and line up the shot to ensure you get it right. If the animal starts to flee too quickly, you’ll need to hop on your horse to chase it, though this can be challenging. If you do end up having to try again — whether on foot or via horse — utilize Dead Eye to make things easier.

Transporting the carcass

Red Dead Redemption Review

Once the animal is dead, it’s time to make use of its carcass. There are a few different ways you can do this, depending on what you’re using it for. If you plan on donating the whole animal to your camp, you can, for most animals, simply stow it away on your horse and be on your way. Multiple animals can be stored on a horse, though only one “big” animal like a deer can fit on the back. Multiple smaller animals like raccoons can be stored on the side at the same time.

If you’re making use of the skin or need the meat, you can skin the animal right away. Walk over to it and hit the triangle or Y button to skin it and take several pieces of raw meat. The skin must be stored on your horse, but you can then pick up the skinned carcass and place it on top of the skin to transport back to your camp.

Certain larger animals, such as alligators, cannot actually be transported from the point of death. If Arthur rolls an animal’s skin up and sticks it on his horse, rather than draping it over the top, it means the animal is too large to be stowed.

While taking your carcass to its final destination, know that it isn’t glued to your horse. If something happens that sends Arthur flying off the horse, everything on the horse will go with it and you’ll need to pick it up again. Make sure you do to avoid a wasted trip. In addition, the rain can impact the quality of your pelt, so try to plan your route accordingly.

Don’t hesitate in getting your carcass to its destination. They spoil quite quickly, and if you fail to act in time, you’ll be left with a useless rotten corpse. This can occur regardless of whether or not it has been skinned yet.

Making use of the animal

Besides cooking and eating the meat, you have a few other options for treating your animal carcass. You can bring the animal back to Pearson at your camp, skinned or not, and donate some or all of it. If you decide to donate your skins, you can use them for satchel upgrades or other things around your campsite.

If you’re running low on cash, you can sell your hunting spoils instead of donating them. Different trappers exist across the Red Dead Redemption 2 map, and they’re easy to find, too; look for a large paw print symbol. Selling your pelts this way won’t earn you much, though, so you shouldn’t plan for them as your primary income source. 

If you’re lucky enough to find an animal trophy like a paw, a fence will take it off your hands for a nice sum. The fences in Red Dead Redemption 2 are your best bet for selling illegally-obtained items, but if you don’t want to get rid of your trophies completely, you can turn them into trinkets at the fence instead.

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