Deer are medium sized grazers in The Long Dark. They are a valuable resource, offering the potential for substantial amounts of meat and materials for relatively little risk.

Overview

Deer are timid wanderers that can be found in all main regions, as well as in some transition zones. They spend much of their time meandering through the snow but will bound away whenever they detect the slightest hint of danger.

Wolves are the main predator of deer and will chase them down on sight. Acquiring a deer for yourself may require stealing a fresh kill from a hungry wolf, particularly early in a the game.

Deer are a great source of food, typically yielding more than 9kg of nutritious meat. Additionally deerskin boots and deerskin pants can be crafted from the animals' cured hides and their cured guts may be employed in constructing several useful items.

Oddly, the player's sprint ability is actually sufficient to almost keep pace with a running deer. This is most useful for keeping them in sight during bleedout from a gunshot or arrow wound, as it is not currently possible to take down prey with close-quarters attacks.


Behaviour

Deer have two paces: walking and fleeing. Typically they stick to a defined area, wandering about randomly within its invisible borders. Occasionally, a wandering deer will pause and bow its head as if to graze. They will sprint away a short distance if they detect a nearby predator or person but will still try to return to their designated area. If they are spooked a second time, they tend to run much farther. Occasionally deer will double back while running and may actually run right at the player without turning away.

Instinctively herd animals, deer are usually seen in groups of up to five, and gravitate back to their fellows after being chased.

Food for wolves

If a wolf detects a deer, it will run down the prey animal and kill it. This may take a little while and cover a good distance, depending on how big a head start the deer has, but it always results in the deer being killed. When a wolf gives chase in this way, other wolves are encouraged to also chase the same deer. This can result in the deer actually being killed by a wolf different from the one that started chasing it. Only the killing wolf will feed, all others will resume patrols.

Carefully driving deer towards wolves can act as a distraction to briefly clear an area of the predators. Alternatively, the player may attempt to drive away or kill a wolf feeding on a recently downed deer, thereby allowing the player to harvest most of the carcass(es) while conserving ammunition.

Interaction

The only possible interaction with deer is to scare them. They run away from most everything. Once the player is close enough to be detected by the deer, it will run. Hearing gunshots and shooting an arrow into the snow near them is also sufficient to get them to bolt. Crouching and remaining still will lower the range at which the player is detected. Remaining still and crouched when within a nearby deer's field of visionay also reduce the chance of being detected.

Herding

Deer may be driven along by repeatedly scaring them. They tend to run directly away, so positioning yourself opposite them from where you would like them to go is often sufficient to steer them properly.

Hunting

It is possible to kill a deer with one shot, though this is a function of scoring a "critical hit". Deer not critically shot will typically run, dripping blood, until they die. It may be noted that while the hunting rifle may cause more critical hits and is therefore more likely to drop a deer immediately, the survival bow does cause significantly faster bleedouts, which reduce the length of chasing and tracking.

Critical hits

Critical hits are random occurrences, but are more likely in designated critical areas of the animal's body. Deer seem to have four areas: the head and neck, the front shoulder and chest, the hindquarters, and their feet. Shots to the head and neck seem to have the best chance to cause a critical hit, with shots to the front shoulder and chest being second. Shots to the feet seem to be immune to critical hits.

Bleeding wounds

Wounded deer running away

All shots cause bleeding wounds. Deer will bleed out according to which area they were shot in. Bleeding wounds do not stack. That is, multiple shots to the same area will not make it bleed out any faster. Shooting a deer in an area that bleeds faster than a previous wound will cause it to bleed out as if the faster wound were caused first. A wounded deer will run until it dies.

Time to bleed out

Zone Hit w/ Rifle w/ Bow
Head Instant Instant
Chest 45 min 25 min
Hind 1 hr 40 min
Foot 4 hr 2 hr

Strategies

The simplest strategy for killing deer is to herd them toward wolves. Wolves always kill deer once they catch them, so no long tracking is required. Once a wolf kills the deer, the decision must be made how to deal with the wolf. Scaring it away with fire or a thrown torch or stone is possible, though the latter two options may not work. Another option is simply waiting for it to eat its fill and coming back for the leftovers. The downside to waiting is that there will be little meat left once the wolf has finished its meal.

Yet another option is to kill the wolf with a ranged weapon while it is distracted or provoke it to attack and fatally injure it.

  • Crouching allows one to travel with less chance of being detected, so crouching, combined with positioning oneself in the path of a walking deer and not moving, can provide opportunities for ambush for a single close range shot at a deer's head. Sprint to keep animal in sight if it flees with a bleeding wound. If the player loses track before the animal dies, the blood trail may help relocate it. Otherwise, the player may have to search the area the deer was running towards if too much time has passed.
  • Longer range shooting is also quite possible once one learns how properly to aim. Deer movement is rather simple while walking and therefore predictable before they bolt.
  • Flushing deer to run can also be used counter-intuitively to get them to run towards the player, allowing for close range shots. Fleeing deer occasionally double back, especially if their paths are blocked by terrain. A dynamic shot may then be taken on the deer as it charges toward or immediately after as it is moving away. Broadside attempts may be difficult to time correctly, but are also possible.

Carcass

Deer carcass

A fresh carcass contains between 8.0 and 10.0 kg of raw meat, as well as two guts and one deer hide. Carcasses will slowly freeze, increasing the time needed for the player to harvest its contents. Meat left on the carcass decays quickly, regardless of the carcass freezing. Starting a fire near a frozen carcass will thaw it.

A carcass can also be quartered into bags of meat to be taken elsewhere for harvesting. The quarters are heavier due to the inclusion of parts not otherwise used, but this does make for easier transport and less time at the site. Frozen carcasses are more difficult to quarter. 

Gallery

Wildlife
Fish Smallmouth bassCoho salmonLake whitefishRainbow trout
Animals BearCrowDeerMooseRabbitTimberwolfWolf
Interactions FishingTrappingBaitingHuntingStruggle
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