Smart Hunting Strategy
Read the Codex/Tutorial Logs, Wildlife sections. The Wildlife entries will tell you each species preferred habitats and when they are generally active. Need zones are tied to habitat areas, so if you can find habitat areas, you’ll know where to scout for zones.
When you are first starting to scout around for animal signs and need zones, don’t go looking for them when the animals are going to be active and traveling. There is no absolute guarantee you won’t bump into animals and spook them, but at least you’ve reduced the probability. Spooking is inevitable, but the animals get over it and will return to their normal routines after a while.
Split up your excursions into the field into scouting first, hunting later. Find the travel corridors and need zones first, and come back to them on another day, well before the animals are due to arrive (it’s somewhat random, just because a zone’s occupancy time is 8am-12pm, say, doesn’t mean they will be there exactly at those times – they’ll wander in and out sometime in that interval).
- Look for tracks: (a) backtrack them, you may find a need zone, and you are less likely to bump animals; (b) forward track them, following the animal’s direction of travel, BUT, only if you are not walking upwind to do it. Again, you might find need zones somewhere along the way. You have to move slower, as you don’t want to catch up to the animal and spook it too soon.
- Listen for animal vocalizations – you can head in that direction to find tracks – but stop and wait for a bit.
- Use your binoculars often – scan the area around you for possible animals – you can spot them – if they are in a need zone, it will be added to your map; at least you’ll know where an animal is, and you can try an approach – at least you’ll find some tracks to follow. Get up high somewhere and scan the landscape to spot animals from longer distances.
It’s important that you stop often – this is what animals do themselves (if they are not fleeing danger or just trotting along because they have someplace to be) – walk a bit, stop, scent the wind, look around for movement or things that stand out from the rest of the scenery, have a snack, drink, bathroom, or pause break before moving on. Continuous movement is a dead giveaway that there may be potential danger around.
The reason for separating scouting and hunting into separate excursions is so you can locate good spots and set up a concealed position from which to hunt. That’s ambush hunting. You get there long before the animals are around and you can wait for an opportunity. If you have the Tents&Blinds DLC and the Tripods&TreeStands DLC, you can set up a tent as well (but not too close to the zone) and sleep, rather than trekking in from an outpost. Don’t set up downwind of the zone, though – better to set up so that you have a crosswind across your line of sight. Smart animals will approach the zone from the downwind direction, so they can scent the wind for potential danger. You can also ambush hunt near travel corridors or pinch points – those routes that animals normally use to travel between habitat areas and zones.
The other form of hunting is spot and stalk – with this method, you find a position with a good view of needs zones or potential zones and use your binoculars to spot – once you find a potential animal, you can stealth approach to within shooting distance – this is especially fun with bow hunting, since you have to get within 50m or so for a good shot, and that is challenging, but very satisfying. If you have long range shooting ability and the right loadout, you can even take a shot from your observation area. Again, be mindful of the wind and stay stealthy. You’ll notice that there are convenient large boulders in many places – you can go prone on top of those to get clear of ground clutter to get a good view of the area.