Hunting is one of the lesser explained elements in Red Dead Redemption 2, but by the bottom of this guide, you’ll know your longhorns from your pronghorns.
Getting good/poor pelts to sell is okay. But for crafting, only perfect pelts will do. Pearson and the Trapper aren’t interested in anything lesser.
First we’ll cover the actual hunt, then which weapons and ammo to use and how to craft them, and finally we’ll get into the legendary animals.
Hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2
The game does a decent job of showing you how to use Eagle Eye (press down both thumbsticks) to see trails of animals you can follow. So let’s assume you’ve looked at the map, gone towards the icon of your target animal, and found it.
We’ll cover studying the animal below. But when it comes time to shoot it, you need to use Dead Eye. It’s a game changer.
It doesn’t matter if you sneak up on the animal, snipe it, or chase it on horseback — we do all of the above. Press Left Trigger, then press down on the Right Thumbstick, and your Dead Eye will slow-mo everything. After Dead Eye is levelled up to rank four, it’ll start showing you the weak points of animals, which is essential for getting perfect pelts.
It’s possible to learn these weak points through other means. Early on, you’re told head/neck shots on deer will do the trick. But for other animals, the sweet spot is quite small and hard to hit — especially when the animal is sprinting. Look at the teeny tiny spot on this fox needed to get a perfect pelt:
There are three kinds of hit: fatal, critical, and normal. Normal hits ruin the pelt. Hitting the red zones during Dead Eye should score you a fatal or critical hit. If it’s fatal, the animal dies instantly. If it’s critical (or if you’re using poison arrows), you may have to follow your prey until it collapses.
Those are the right steps mid-hunt — but you won’t start seeing those perfect pelts, skins, and hides until you make the right preparations before you take the shot.
Know Your Prey
There’s a foolproof way to know exactly how to hunt each animal: study them. You can sneak up on them and hold RB, or it’s not too hard to hold RB while chasing them on horseback. But there’s an easier way: use the binoculars. Zoom in on the animal and you’re able to study from afar.
Once done, it’ll tell you which weapon and ammo to use to get a perfect pelt, or hide, or skin. It’ll also tell you the quality of the animal; anything less than a pristine, three-star animal and you’ll have no chance of getting a perfect pelt. Studying is the difference between preying and praying.
If you don’t want to bother with all that, we’ve simplified the official chart below that shows which weapons and ammo you can use to get those perfect pelts, skins, and hides.
The observant will spot that the sniper rifle can give you perfect pelts on medium, large, and massive animals. For “moderate” animals, only the Varmint Rifle will work. For small animals like snakes, only a bow with a small game arrow will get you a perfect result.
From medium-sized animals and up, only a critical or fatal hit will get you the perfect pelt you need. With all of the above, don’t use explosive ammo or you’ll ruin the pelt. Never use a pistol, revolver, or shotgun to hunt. Shotguns only have one niche case with massive animals in which slug ammo can still get you a perfect hide.
If you really wanted to, you could set out with just a varmint rifle and a bow, since critical hits with poison arrows work on medium-sized animals and up. Just be aware that you can’t eat the meat after using a poison arrow.
The sniper rifle also works well on all medium-sized animals and up, and a bit of distance can make the job easy. The descriptions of some animals get even more specific sometimes, requesting long-scoped rifles instead of just a normal sniper.
The ‘Rope a Doe’ Method
If you like the close quarters approach, it’s possible to ride up alongside some animals and lasso them. This method of hunting causes the least damage possible to the pelt.
You’ll have a heck of a hard time sneaking up on the more wary species, and this may be one of those rare times when it’s worth busting out the scent cover.
Rope the animal the same way you would a human you’re about to hogtie. When you dismount and work your way up towards the animal, you’ll be given the option to kill it cleanly.
Upgrading Good Pelts to Perfect
You want an even easier way, you say?
If you hunt the Legendary Buck, you can head over to the Fence and spend $22 make the Buck Antler Trinket, which has the following description:
Player receives higher quality skinned animal parts.
That’s right — a “good” quality pelt, skin, or hide, can effectively just be rounded up to “perfect.” You’ll still have to shoot carefully, so put the dynamite away (for now). But for an earnest attempt at hitting the bullseye, it can be enough to turn a good pelt into a perfect one.
It should be noted this has nowhere near a 100% success rate. Like many games, while a three-star rating system is displayed, it’s entirely likely there’s a numerical rating system under the hood that we don’t get to see. Perhaps the trinket only provides so much of a boost.
You’ll find the Legendary Buck in the mountains northwest of Strawberry. See below for more details on hunting legendary animals.
What Size is My Animal?
Small animals such as snakes, squirrels, songbirds, sparrows, chipmunks, toads, bats, rats, ravens, robins, roosters, blue jays, boobies, cardinals, carolina chickens, crows, ducks, gulls, loons, orioles, parrots, parakeets, pheasants, pigeons, quail, waxwings, woodpeckers, and bullfrogs will be killed by one hit from anything. But only a small game arrow will preserve their skins and pelts perfectly.
Moderate animals include rabbits, jackrabbits, raccoons, skunks, muskrats, iguanas, gila monsters, armadillos, condors, cormorants, cranes, eagles, egrets, geese, hawks, herons, owls, pelicans, possums, spoonbills, turkeys, vultures, and badgers. The only way to get a perfect skin or pelt from these is to use the varmint rifle. Any shot should be fatal, though we’ve had to chase an injured rabbit before.
Medium-sized animals are where it starts to get tougher. These are your beavers, coyotes, pigs, and foxes. Arrows and throwing knives (normal or poison) are suitable, as well as repeaters, rifles, and sniper rifles.
Large animals are where repeaters stop working. These are small alligators, boars, bucks, cougars, deer, big horn rams, panthers, goats, wolves, sheep, turtles, pronghorns, and peccaries. Arrows (normal or poison), throwing knives (only poison), rifles, and sniper rifles will do the trick.
Massive animals include alligators, bears, bison, bulls, cows, moose, elk, and oxen. With this class of animal, the skin/pelt/hide alone will take up your rear horse storage. Improved or poison arrows, poison throwing knives, rifles, and sniper rifles will get you a clean kill. It’s also possible with massive animals to use slug ammo in a shotgun.
Crafting For the Hunt
Setting out to hunt, you should be stocked up on the following, or plan to grab them in the field:
- Poison arrows
- Small game arrows
- Improved arrows
You’ll find the recipe for poison arrows at the Fence for $58. You’ll also find the crafting recipe for dynamite arrows there for $85, and, well… You’ll see below why you might want that.
We haven’t found it necessary to use scent cover, or predator/herbivore bait. But if you find it helpful, go for it. After acquiring the recipe from the Fence, you can craft predator bait with fish meat and berries.
Crafting different kinds of arrows requires flight feathers. You can shoot most birds for this. Pop them right out of the sky if you need, then take a knee and craft as many small game/improved arrows as you can.
In addition to flight feathers, poison arrows require Oleander Sage. This plant has tall, five-petal pink flowers, and grows on the riverbanks around Bayou Nwa.
Doing a quick lap for some Oleander Sage is a quick ride from Saint Denis and has some decent hunting along the way. While you’re picking plants you’ll find plenty of alligators to hunt, as well as boar and other animals.
Hunting Legendary Animals
The Legendary Animals challenge tasks you with hunting five legendary animals, but there are a lot more. Almost every type of animal has a legendary version.
All except for the cows. We guess that would be too legen – wait for it – dairy.
The good news is these are actually easier to hunt, in terms of pelt quality. It doesn’t matter what you do, that pelt will always be a legendary pelt. Incendiary/explosive shotgun shells? Go for it. Dynamite arrows? Sure.
These play out like a world-based quest, similar to when Hosea took you looking for that legendary bear. You’ll get the following notification when you’re in the right area:
You have entered Legendary Animal Territory. Hunt this Legendary Animal by finding and inspecting clues.
Use your Eagle Eye to find clues and investigate. After your second or third clue, you should be able to find the legendary animal nearby. Depending on the animal, you’ll have to either stalk or fight.
Taking the materials gained to the Fence will allow you to buy the trinkets associated with that legendary animal. They all have their own effects. Taking the pelt to the Trapper will give you access to new clothes and gear upgrades.
Legendary Animal Troubleshooting
Occasionally you’ll enter the area and see the following message instead:
You have entered Legendary Animal Territory, but there is too much activity in the area to track the animal.
This means there’s a side activity blocking your hunt. It could be a stranger calling out for help, or it could be lawmen chasing someone nearby. Sometimes you can camp, sleep for a few hours, and resume. Other times you’ll have to swiftly conclude whatever tangential intrigue RDR2 is drawing your attention to.
If there’s a natural predator to your legendary animal in the vicinity, you’ll have to remove that killjoy before you can hunt. The legendary animal didn’t get legendary by sticking around when there are hungry predators loose.
In the case of the Legendary Giaguaro Panther, level nine in the hunting challenge is required before it’ll appear. Once these things are complete, you should be able to see the first clue with Eagle Eye.
How to Sell and Craft With Legendary Animal Materials
If you’re like us, you carried around your first legendary animal carcass across the whole map until you died with it on your shoulder, looking for a place to get rid of it. Pearson won’t take it, the Fence won’t buy it, and the Trapper isn’t interested. For a legendary beast, it’s not too popular.
Fear not! RDR2 does have a “storage” system of sorts. Donating materials to Pearson, or selling them to the Trapper, actually just makes them hold onto it for a while until you’re ready to craft with them.
It’s counterintuitive — the idea of selling a legendary pelt or skin to the Trapper, only to buy it back in the form of clothing? It’s odd, but that’s what you do.
Selling the legendary animal materials gets you about $50, which is very nice. We’ve had some fun with exploding legendary animals with dynamite arrows, and it makes the fight as easy as aim & shoot. But dynamite unfortunately sometimes renders the legendary animal unskinnable, which means you miss out on that minor payday.
Thankfully, you can’t “lose” the pelts and materials. Just visit the Trapper/Fence and they’ll have what you need. There’s only one of each legendary animal, so Red Dead Redemption 2 has done us a solid and made sure you can’t die and miss out on one-of-a-kind gear.
Trinket and Talisman Effects
While the Trapper will deck you out with clothing made from the pelts, hides, and skins, the Fence will make trinkets and talismans out of the claws, teeth, and other trophies you pull. Sometimes these will also require rare collectibles in the world, as well as standard jewellery like a silver earring.
Trinkets only require the legendary trophy. Talismans will require other unique items from the world.
Here’s what the Fence can make for you:
- Beaver Tooth Trinket: Permanently slows degradation of all weapons by 10%.
- Buck Antler Trinket: Player receives higher quality skinned animal parts.
- Cougar Fan Trinket: Permanently increases your stamina experience bonus by 10%.
- Coyote Fan Trinket: Permanently increases your Dead Eye experience bonus by 10%.
- Elk Antler Trinket: Permanently increases the value of your looted money by 10%.
- Fox Claw Trinket: Permanently increases the time Eagle Eye can stay active by five seconds.
- Lion’s Paw Trinket: Permanently increases your stamina experience bonus by 10%.
- Moose Antler Trinket: Permanently increases your health experience bonus by 10%.
- Panther’s Eye Trinket: Permanently decreases the speed at which the Dead Eye bar drains by 10% for three seconds.
- Pronghorn Horn Trinket: Stops animals on horseback from spoiling.
- Ram Horn Trinket: Picking Creeping Thyme, Oregano, and Wild Mint yields 2x more herbs.
- Wolf Heart Trinket: Consume 2x more alcohol before feeling negative effects of being drunk.
- Tatanka Bison Horn Trinket: Permanently decreases the amount of melee damage received by 10%.
- Alligator Tooth Talisman: Requires the Legendary Alligator Tooth, a gold jointed bracelet, and a set of Vintage Civil War Handcuffs. Permanently decreases the speed at which your Dead Eye core drains by 10%.
- Bear Claw Talisman: Requires the Legendary Bear Claw, a silver chain bracelet, and one Quartz Chunk. Permanently decreases the speed at which your health core drains by 10%.
- Boar Tusk Talisman: Requires a Legendary Boar Tusk, a gold earring, and one Cobalt Petrified Wood. Permanently decreases the speed at which horse health and stamina cores drain by 10%.
- Bison Horn Talisman: Requires a Legendary Bison Horn, one silver earring, and one Abalone Shell Fragment. Permanently decreases the speed that the stamina core drains by 10%.
- Raven Claw Talisman: Requiring one Old Brass Compass, this permanently slows degradation of all weapons by 20%.
Happy hunting, friends. When in doubt, study the animal to see if there are any special requirements that’ll make your life easier. Select the right tools and then Eagle Eye to track, Dead Eye to shoot. You’ll be taking those perfect pelts home in no time.