I started writing about “Red Dead Redemption 2” when I noticed how little info was available online.
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There's a pretty broad line between “Master of Hunters” and “ridiculously suicidal.” Luckily unlike “Red Dead Redemption”, we're not required to leap that line.
Conquer Nature (but if You Concur It Might Yry to Kill You)
The Master Hunter Challenges return from Red Dead Redemption. Like some other Challenges, not only do these unlock a set of “Reinforced Equipment” that will make your Grizzly Adams role-play more stellar (hint: you’ll need Hair Tonic), but you can sell the pelts and parts for money (Note: In some cases you can Donate Perfect Quality pelts to Pearson back at the Camp to unlock different decorations and Satchel upgrades).
Pelt Quality plays a role in Red Dead Redemption 2, however. To determine quality, you will need to study the targeted animal by holding down Right Bumper/R1 (you only have to do it once per species) and you’ll see a little one-three star symbol on the lower right corner of the screen. One = Poor, Two = Good, Three = Perfect. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Perfect will make you the most money. Quality changes however based on HOW you kill the animal, so no dual wielding Schofields while chasing a three-star Deer . . . Been there, done that, got the crappy pelt. I’m not an idiot I just did it for science . . .
Get use to pressing in on the Sticks/L3+R3 to activate Eagle Eye. A feature which allows you to Track the exact direction of your prey. It will also give you info on the quality of the animal's pelt before you spot it. This will help you decide what best weapon to shoot it with. This is also required to start hunting Legendary Animals once you enter their territory. You'll see a yellow plume where you'll need to hold Y/Triangle to examine three signs of a Legendary Animal's whereabouts before it will spawn in the area (good ol' game development rule-of-three). Luckily with THESE creatures killing them by any means necessary won't destroy the Legendary Pelt. Though I've never tried blowing them up with Dynamite so . . .
Hunting with a Bow isn't ALWAYS a great idea, and unlike Far Cry 4's hunting mechanic it's not always required. In fact in some scenarios it's not good at all unless you land a head-shot. As for Small Game Arrows avoid wasting these on anything bigger than animals that can be placed in Arthur's Satchel (birds, squirrels, crabs, yeah that kind of small).
If you try using a Small Game Arrow on a Rabbit (you know because in real life they are considered SMALL GAME within reason) you're going to ruin the pelt without a perfect head-shot. For situations like this the Varmint Rifle is the best weapon for Rabbits, Raccoons, Badgers, Turkeys, and anything else that can be attached to the side of your saddle.
From there a rifle, with a head-shot, is my most recommended option. Not every pelt has to be perfect, in most cases you're just going to hunt for meat or crafting components. Anything you get from the animal other than that is a bonus. And of course there will be moments when hunting is for self defense (Wolves, Cougars, and Bears).
If you're REALLY into hunting consider breaking (or stealing) a couple extra horses. Just remember that a saddle is required for small animals, and carcasses will rot over time. Bond Level 1 is also a good idea.
Master Hunter Challenge #1: Skin 3 Deer
When You Can Do It: You can actually start it, unintentionally, during the Chapter 1 Mission “The Aftermath of Genesis”
Deer, along with Rabbits, are plentiful in the wilderness. They’re literally everywhere! Chasing them on horseback, then using Dead Eye, can work but I recommend stalking with a rifle or Bow from a distance (at least early in the game). They’re usually in herds of five, but don’t try to eradicate a trio all at once, take your time. You can always Track the escapees through Eagle Eye (Left+Right Stick Buttons/L3+R3).
Master Hunter Challenge #2: Collect 3 Perfect Quality Rabbit Pelts
When You Can Do It: Chapter 2, after Challenge #1, and after you buy a Varmint Rifle (very important)
I kind of understand Elmer Fudd’s hatred for these cotton-tailed bastards now. An hour and a half of stalking Rabbits with a Bow and Varmint Rifle, getting PERFECT head-shots on an animal whose body is one of the smallest in the game. All I would get are Poor and Good Quality until I discovered the freaking star system that I mentioned above! Thank you Rockstar for pointing that out in one of your briefly-flashed-on-the-upper-left-corner-of-the-screen tutorial texts. Do they even mention that there!?
Christ . . . Anyway you’re going to want to use your Binoculars to Study any first Rabbit you come across, so that next time you have one in the sights of your Varmint Rifle, you can see in the lower right corner of the screen their star rating. You want to shoot the ones with a three-star, i.e. Perfect, rating.
Master Hunter Challenge #3: Track 10 Different Animal Species Using Your Binoculars
When You Can Do It: After Challenge #2
When they say different species they're speaking literally. You will be able to Track a Deer and then Track a Buck. If it's listed different, then it's a different species (even if they're the same base species). Also you can only Track ground animals (just pointing it out if it wasn't obvious already . . .) You also can't Track domestic animals. In order to Track a species you haven't found yet, you'll have to hold Right Bumper/R1 to Study the creature first. Only then can you hold Y/Triangle to Track it afterward.
Just outside of Horseshoe Overlook you can Track Deer, Bucks, Rabbits, Wild Horses, Turkeys, etc. If you haven't seen it before then it's a new species to you. If you run out of species to Track, go North to the mountains North of Valentine (Elk, Bighorns, etc.) or South toward Rhodes following along the side of Flat Iron Lake.
This isn't a hard Challenge, but it's going to take time, so don't grind it. To help pace yourself, do this sporadically between missions and other Challenges.
Directly across from Horseshoe Overlook you can find several species of animals in this area. (Note: This screenshot was taken early in Chapter 2.)
Master Hunter Challenge #4: Call an Animal and Get a Clean Kill 5 Times
When You Can Do It: After Challenge #3 OR for pacing's sake wait until after you unlock Dead Eye manual tagging, by doing the Chapter 2 mission “Pouring Fourth Oil – IV”
As you ride around look for a Deer, Buck, Pronghorn, pretty much anything with an actual neck. Get off your horse and crouch by pressing in on the Left Stick/L3 (or stand up straight, yeah . . . I'm sure they won't get spooked by that Captain Badass . . .) Aim at the animal and press X/Square to Call, after you do this you'll have mini seconds to get a head-shot. Even without manual tagging make use of Dead Eye to buy yourself some extra time on the shot. This works best with Deer, Pronghorns, and Bucks, but you can also do it with Rabbits though it can be a little tricky. The main key to completing this Challenge is using the Call feature.
So don't bother chasing down that fleeing Deer on horseback and blowing it's head off with a perfect Dead Eye noggin shot. Because literally I don't think that violent tumble it takes, into the dirt, would constitute “clean kill” anyway. Take it slow, have some patience, and this will be over in no time.
Master Hunter Challenge #5: Skin 3 Black or Grizzly Bears
When You Can Do It: Chapter 2 after the mission “An American Pastoral Scene” OR after Challenge #4
It's not Black OR Grizzly Bears, it's really AND/OR. Basically skinning three Black Bears, which isn't as scary as it sounds. If you go North of Owanjila lake, where the Trapper is, you'll find a few Black Bears in this area.
Considering how Black Bears are more scared of you, then you are of them, it's almost not fair. If you want a real threat go after Grizzly Bears instead. You can find one North-West and North-East of Wallace Station (North up the river from Cumberland Falls). You can also find one at Barrow Lake. You'll want to bring some shotgun slugs before you do. As for how to dispatch Black Bears the Lancaster Rifle is not really necessary for this Challenge but it does feel very old school western to take them on with one (and of course it's infinitely better than the Carbine Repeater).
Grizzlies are the exact opposite of Black Bears and will almost always go out of their way to attack you. Though since Black Bears DON'T charge into the muzzle of your double barrel shotgun would that make them smarter than the average bear?
The Grizzly Bear location North-West of Wallace Station. If you're lucky you might come across an O'Driscoll gang camp as well. Providing some very “Far Cry” like shenanigans between man and nature.
You can find a couple of Grizzlies up in this area, North-East of Wallace Station, near Cumberland Falls. And yeah that paw icon is a dead Bear. It wasn't a complicated story . . .
You can also find a Grizzly Bear up here at Barrow Lake, and if you're lucky you can witness that cool Bear versus Wolves event we saw in the game trailer . . . but with more snow.
Master Hunter Challenge #6: Kill 5 Cougars With a Bow, and Skin Them
When You Can Do It: Chapter 3 at first, but wait until Chapter 4 for the majority.
Before you do this Challenge you should craft a few Improved Arrows if you don't have some already. To do that you're going to need some Flight Feathers, which you can get from any flying birds (and if I'm not mistaken you might be able to get them from Turkeys . . . I don't know either I'm no zoologist). Improved Arrows are a one hit kill, even if you don't get a head-shot it seems. Even WITH a head-shot Standard Arrows seem to take two, or more, to down a Cougar.
As for when you can do it there is an opportunity as early as Chapter 3 if you do Leopold Strauss' debtor side mission “Winton Holmes.” That mission requires killing a rare Cougar AND skinning it. The only problem is that it's extremely dark in that cave, though not to spoil the mission's story I'll just say be prepared to Dead Eye and aim your Bow to the right. You'll know what I mean when you play it.
For the rest I suggest waiting until Chapter 4 since you'll be heading through Roanoke a couple of times for Marko Dragic's “A Bright Bouncing Boy” Stranger quest. In fact one Cougar spawns outside of his lab in Doverhill (see first screenshot). You can also find a Cougar sometimes near the Trapper North of Owanjila lake in Big Valley (the same area as the previous Challenge) but they don't spawn as often, in my experience, as they do in Roanoke.
You can skin five other Cougars without using a Bow, but that would mean hunting five more Cougars. Don’t let the ones you hunted go to waste.
Just don't try hunting them at Night. (Note: I hope you appreciate the fact I had to change my drawers after taking this screenshot, you're welcome.)
Master Hunter Challenge #7: Use Bait to Lure and Kill a Predator and Herbivore Consecutively
When You Can Do It: After Challenge #6
The Way Bait Works In Red Dead Redemption 2:
Bait functions differently than it did in Red Dead Redemption. Bait does not spawn a creature into the area. You have to first find a creature you want to lure THEN drop the corresponding Bait. The animal you want, in the immediate area, will start scurrying toward the location of the Bait. There are also Potent Baits and Standard Baits.
You’ll need to kill a predator and herbivore consecutively, but not in that order. Put down Herbivore Bait; then whatever shows up first kill it. Then put down the opposite Bait and kill whatever shows up. When you lay down Bait do it in an area where you have a decent view of your surroundings, also use Cover Scent to prevent the animals from getting extra spooked before they get close (they don’t need any help in the “getting spooked” department). Whenever you put down Predator Bait don’t always expect a Bear; Foxes and Coyotes also count. Also be patient! This Challenge won’t be completed immediately! If you have to buy or craft more Bait do so. You’re not on a timer but the Challenge will reset if you shoot any animal not related to the “consecutively” part.
You can craft Potent Predator Bait using a Berry (of any type) and Flaky Fish Meat. Flaky Fish Meat can be harvested from Bluegills in Flat Iron Lake, and while you're down here you can collect Evergreen Huckleberries. To catch Bluegills use Cheese Bait and don't reel in after you cast. Instead tap Right Trigger/R2 to attract them, and after a little patience you'll catch a Bluegill. If you try to reel in to attract a fish you'll catch a Rock Bass or Pickerel.
Keep in mind though Standard Predator Bait will be enough to attract Small Alligators. You can lure an herbivore just about anywhere, but a good place to lure a predator is down in the swamps of Leymone. Put down Potent Predator Bait to attract American Alligators (Small), not the large ones which just keep sitting down. The reason I pick this is because they're abundant, they move slowly, and they are classified as predators.
Refrain from shooting any humans during this Challenge since that somehow resets progress for whatever reason.
Put down Predator Bait in the muddy areas of Leymone's swamps and you'll see this. It takes a while for the Alligators to creep near you, but you can shoot them from afar and it will still count.
Master Hunter Challenge #8: Catch 3 Small Fish Without Using a Fishing Rod
When You Can Do It: After Challenge #7
No not “(i.e. dynamite)” like the crap hurried article that inspired me to do these guides. Dynamite will just vaporize the school of fish. You CAN use a Bow, with Standard Arrows which actually work better than Small Game Arrows, or a handgun. The point isn't to get perfect fish, just to get three without a rod. A good place to do this is the Dakota River, at the part north and/or west of Valentine, where sometimes you pick up Perch right off the shore because of the currant.
Another good “hunting” ground for fish is the east side of Flat Iron Lake, just north of Clemen's Cove. Along this lake you can also use another tactic; horse trampling. However you have to do it close enough to shore so you can actually “catch”/Pick Up the dead fish.
Also remember what the game considers SMALL fish are pretty much anything smaller than a Sturgeon, Gar, Pike, and Muskie. Largemouth Bass, Salmon, and Trout count as SMALL luckily.
Master Hunter Challenge #9: Kill an Opossum Playing Possum
When You Can Do It: After Challenge #8
Set up a Camp and sleep until Evening, if it's not already, and head to the location in the screenshot below (might as well you're probably already in Leymone). And you should find an Opossum around here. If not they spawn around most of the map during the Evening.
Once you find the one in the screenshot, or near the area in the screenshot, it will pretend to faint. The objective here is to kill it while it's PLAYING POSSUM. Yeah! That's where the saying came from! Except a legitimate nightmare is to be shot or stabbed to death while fake sleeping. So show this little putz the importance of situational awareness and use a melee weapon before it “wakes up.”
This spot here, north of Rhodes, is where you can usually find Opossums during the Evening. You can find them in other areas of the game world, such as West Elizabeth.
Master Hunter Challenge #10: Find and Kill the Legendary Panther 'Giaguaro'
When You Can Do It: If you didn't take my advice earlier to wait until Chapter 4 with Challenge #6, do so now because this takes part right across the road from Dutch's Camp
Before you even begin to go after Giaguaro you need to make sure Arthur is at Average or above weight, not Underweight. No hang on, I'm not trying to plug a tutorial for a feature you probably don't care about. In my experience this IS a serious factor in your success with this hunt. Giaguaro isn't your usual Legendary Animal hunt. Save the game before you begin that way you can reload if you get killed. Which may be a possibility . . .?
Once you have examined all three clues (the yellow plumes in Eagle Eye mode), she (yes I'm assuming) will pounce. Depending on your luck you can kill her before the attack but you will probably be desperately tapping B/Circle to Break Free before she kills you. THEN you can go into Dead Eye and Shotgun Slug the bitch into the next world.
However if you're Underweight no amount of gold cores and Miracle Tonics will keep your neck from becoming Giaguaro's mouse toy. Sure you have less Stamina drain but your Damage Absorption is practically nonexistent. At Average weight you have a few extra seconds of button tapping to get Giaguaro literally off your back.
To check your weight pause the game, go to Player, select Arthur, and it will be the first thing displayed along with Temperature and Honor. Keep in mind that you need to start tapping B/Circle the second she jumps on you for a chance to fling it away, go into Dead Eye and kill it. Also don't bother using Predator Bait (Standard or Potent) there's a chance you'll attract a Wild Boar instead. Oh yes I learned THAT the hard way too.
You can gain weight by eating 10-15 food items (Chocolate Bars, Candies, Canned Meats, Cooked Meat work best it seems). Save your game, reload, and your status will be the next step up. Also make sure to take part in Pearson's Camp Stew, at least once a day. It's hearty enough to keep your weight at a decent level throughout the game.