Hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most important activities not strictly related to story progression. Through hunting, players can obtain meat, pelts and crafting items. Additionally, animal carcasses can be donated to Pearson in the Van der Linde gang camp, to help maintain it, or can be sold at butchers for a decent profit.
Hunting does a lot more than just the above too. Some animal parts can be used to craft Talismans at fences, increasing Arthur's stats permanently. Also, skinning animals is required to complete Master Hunter challenges. Completing all challenges unlocks the Legend of the East outfit, one of the best outfits of Red Dead Redemption 2. So without further ado, let's dive in!
Choose Your Prey
All wildlife in Red Dead Redemption 2 can be killed, but not all animals are created equal. The game employs a three-star rating system to let players evaluate the value of the animal's pelt on the fly. One star animals are not worth much, while three-star animals are the ones you want to kill, as they can net you a Perfect Pelt.
The only way to learn beforehand about an animal's rating is by checking it out with the binoculars from a distance. The animal may be warned of your presence through your scent, so make sure to always stay downwind. The wind's direction can be checked with Eagle Eye mode.
The Right Tools for the Job
Animals in Red Dead Redemption 2 come in very different sizes, and, as such, there are specific weapons that have to be used against certain animals to get a Perfect Pelt. As a general rule, Sniper Rifles are the best for medium, large and massive animals. For very small animals, the Bow is the way to go. For moderately sized animals, the Varmint Rifle is the weapon of choice.
While the Bow is perfect for small animals, the different arrows make it a good choice even for other animal sizes. With Poison Arrows, it's possible to deal good damage with a good shot and wait for the animal to die. The downside is that meat from a poisoned animal cannot be eaten.
Go for the Perfect Kill
Even a three-star animal may not be worth too much if the animal, and the pelt, receives too much damage, so killing them with a single shot is the ideal way to go if you're looking to make the most profit out of the animal's carcass.
Headshots usually get the job done, but sometimes it may be difficult to get one. Dead Eye Level 4, unlocked during Chapter 5, is extremely helpful in these cases as it highlights weak points on both enemies and animals.
Whether shooting at the animal's head or weak points, players have to make sure to use the right type of ammo. Big animals require powerful rifles armed with velocity cartridges to penetrate thick skulls and skins. The right type of ammo is also important so as you don't damage the pelt too much. Thankfully, the game provides detailed information about which ammo type to use in the in-game pelt guide.
Even if you fail to get a Perfect Pelt, there's a way to upgrade a good quality pelt to Perfect. This is done with the Buck Antler Trinket, which improves the quality of skinned animal parts.
The item can be created by fences by using the parts obtained from the Legendary Buck, which can be found in the mountains found to the northwest of Strawberry.
Please note that not all good quality pelts get upgraded with the Antler Trinket, so going for the perfect kill is still important.
Everything you have learned about hunting has made you one of the best hunters around, so you may feel like it's time to hunt Legendary Animals. When going after them, however, you can just forget everything you have learned so far regarding pelt quality, as only the most powerful weapons can kill them.
The materials obtained by killing these Legendary Animals can be used to craft special trinkets with unique effects. Their pelts can be used to unlock new clothes and gear upgrades.
Check out our Legendary Animals guide here.