Hunting in The Long Dark has been greatly simplified by keeping the animals conspicuous. Very little tracking needs to be done to find animals. Furthermore, while the player can see them from a great distance, all animals seem oblivious to anything farther than 30 meters away. Approaching them is rather easy, especially if one is crouching.
Shooting animals with projectiles is the most effective way to kill game while completely bypassing the animals' natural defenses. Bullets and arrows move too quickly to be blocked or dodged and can be fired from outside the animal's zone of perception. Five ranged weapons currently exist in the game: stones , the hunting rifle, the survival bow, the revolver, and the Distress pistol.
The hunting rifle is a tool used to fire rifle rounds at targets. The high velocity rounds travel in a straight line and can cause massive internal injuries to the first object they encounter, potentially killing animals instantly. If the round fails to cause internal injuries sufficient enough to kill instantly, the round will still result a bleeding wound that will kill the animal eventually, just more slowly. Expended rounds will be dropped next to the player as rifle shell casings. In survival mode, the effectiveness of the rifle is improved by increasing the rifle firearm skill.
- Hitting a fleshy target will produce a blood spray effect.
- Hitting a solid target will produce a smoke effect often accompanied with a "clank" sound.
- Hitting most environmental targets will produce a snow scatter effect.
The survival bow is a craftable tool used to launch simple arrows at targets. Arrows arc as they travel, so aiming needs to take account of how far the target is away as well. Arrows can kill animals instantly, but more commonly cause massive bleeding wounds that will drain their health quickly. Arrows are retrievable, however they do take damage each time they hit something. Reaching 0% quality breaks the arrow. Broken arrows do not stick to targets, falling instead to the ground where they hit. In survival mode, the effectiveness of the bow is improved by increasing the archery skill.
- Sighting the bow is a challenge for new players. No hard sight exists, rather one must estimate. The best references for aiming are the arrow tip for elevation and the bottom of the bow for horizontal alignment. Recommend practice.
- Arrows that are stuck in the side of the animal may come loose when they die, and you will find them lying next to them. If arrows are still stuck to your slain prey, clicking on the carcass will automatically harvest all the arrows and put them in your inventory.
A basic tool that can be found lying around outdoors and in caves. Its utility for hunting is somewhat limited, however. Stones are able to temporarily stun rabbits. The player must then quickly grab the stunned rabbit and break its neck. Stones are unable to injure larger game, but still have some use. Predators will investigate a thrown stone that lands near them, while prey animals will flee. Hunters can use these behaviors to their advantage.
A handgun that is much lighter than the hunting rifle. While revolver ammunition is abundant, the revolver has a much smaller chance to instantly kill wildlife compared to the rifle or bow, regardless of skill level. That said, even a single wound dealt by the revolver will still cause animals to bleed out, but over a longer period of time compared to rifle rounds or arrows. Even head shots do not guarantee a kill when hunting deer and wolves with the revolver. Using the revolver as a hunting tool requires patience and tracking.
The lack of proper sights and the low arc of shots fired from this weapon make it a relatively poor choice for a hunting tool. However, if a flare fired from it manages to connect with target wildlife, it will cause wounds that bleed out quickly.
- Because wildlife will always flee from distress pistol shots, this makes it a fairly safe choice for hunting dangerous wildlife. Allowing an animal to charge the player and firing right in its face can greatly increase the chance of a successful hit. This is a surprisingly effective method for hunting bears, which provide a large target and suffer from bleeding wounds.
Some animals run, others are attracted to you. Various methods exist for approaching each type of intended game. See the specific animal pages for preferred methods to hunt each.
Crouching allows the player to move more quietly and less visibly, decreasing the animal's ability to detect them. Remaining still while crouching further reduces detection, allowing a player to get very close to intended game.
- Only firearms and stones can be used from the crouching position without Survival Skill Bonuses. To shoot the bow while crouching, you must have a Survival Skill level of 5 in Archery. To attain level 5 Archery, you must reach 150 points. Archery points are increased by scoring a hit on an animal or by crafting arrows.
- Without being Level 5 in Archery, you must first stand up to draw and loose the arrow - potentially alerting your prey and necessitating a rushing of the aiming process.
Hunting the hunters
Predators may decide to pursue a player that intends to hunt them. This trait can be used against them, to lure them into traps and ambushes or draw them close for an easy kill. Carrying items that give off scent will draw predators to the player. By manipulating scent while crouching, it is possible to line up ideal shots, while the tracking animal remains oblivious. Predators can also be moved into a better position by throwing stones, which they will investigate if they can't see the player.
If the predator begins its charge, it will quickly be on top of the player unless they have taken steps to prevent it, or they get one powerful shot properly connected with this rapidly moving target. Bait can be used to escape predators before they charge, but afterward there are fewer options. Predators will never directly cross a campfire and will usually be kept at bay if one is between them and the player. The will also turn and flee if they can't find a path to the player (e.g. the player has climbed a narrow tree limb or ledge).
Moose behave more defensively and will not stalk players, but they are incredibly territorial and aggressive. They can survive more than one shot to the head, and will not bleed out, requiring multiple rounds from any weapon.
It is possible to kill any animal with one shot, but this is a function of scoring a "critical hit". Critical hits are random occurrences, and are more likely in an animal's designated critical areas. Hitting an animal but not immediately killing it still means that animal has a bleeding wound. A bleeding animal will always die if given enough time for its wound to finish bleeding.
Animals 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.
Shots that only catch the very outside of an animals silhouette may only graze its skin. Such grazing shots will produce a blood spatter on impact and an audible body hit, but seemingly do not injure the animal at all, there will be no blood on the ground at the point of impact and no blood trail. Additionally, bouncing an arrow off terrain that then hits an animal may produce the body hit noise, but again, the animal feels no effect.
Other than grazing shots, all hits will cause bleeding wounds that will eventually kill the animal (moose excluded). Animals will bleed out according to which area they were shot in last. Bleeding wounds do not stack, meaning that multiple shots to the same area will not reduce bleed-out time. However, shooting an animal in an area of higher blood loss will override a previous shot in a lower blood loss area. The reverse is also true, making it unnecessary to fire at a fleeing animal that has a head wound since it has the fastest bleed out time. Moose do not bleed out and may require multiple shots to kill them.
The bleed-out timers above elapse even while performing time-accelerated activities. This means that after wounding an animal, you can simply use 'Pass time' via the 'Campcraft' menu to accelerate its death relative to real time, but the animal will also move at an accelerated speed.
Tracking is fairly straightforward when the animal chooses to run away. Blood drops will fall along its path for you to follow. The wounded animal is also still quite obvious against its background of snow. And animals tend to run in straight lines unless they are blocked. So following them visually is fairly easy, too. Sprinting can keep pace with all but the bear. Use your limited speed boost to keep your quarry in sight. Also when wounded, bears may charge back at you randomly, making tracking difficult sometimes.
Blood trails are temporary and will fade. Snow and wind increase the rate of fade. Fading trails may seem to disappear as the spot in front of you vanishes then you turn around and there are no longer any spots behind either. Actually, there are spots still ahead of you rapidly disappearing, too. But if you are not running faster than the animal that dropped them, you will never catch up to the fade point to see that.
- Presently animals only bleed onto the ground when they are running away. When they charge or go back to walking, blood will not appear on the ground. They are however still bleeding and will eventually die. Blood drops will again appear if the animal is encouraged to run away (gunshot, throw a lit flare at it, close missed shot with an arrow).
If an animal successfully outruns you far enough to where you lose contact with it, it can stop running and return to a walking pace. Typically, these animals will be found returning along the same path they just fled along as they try to get back to their correct positions in the world.
Bleeding animals will eventually drop dead, regardless of whether the player is there to see it or not. Finding the Carcass can be difficult if contact was lost as they fled. Carcasses no longer move about and do not leave a trail, so spotting some may be difficult. Players should take advantage of elevated spots to look down into low areas. Search every side of obstacles, and look for crows circling over an area. Carcasses will begin to freeze and meat will decay the moment the animal dies. If left alone, a carcass will disappear after a few days. Frozen carcasses can be thawed by placing campfires near them, reducing the amount of time it takes to harvest meat.
In some areas (e.g. Coastal Highway or Desolation Point) the Rabbits, Deer and Wolves can be directed towards the water. While hunting on the open ice is easier due to the even ground, attention is advised if they get too close to the water. If they run out too far, that animal will simply disappear, probably because of it drowning, resulting in the effort (and maybe a few arrows) going down the drain. If unlucky, deer and wolves may die on the thin ice, so that the player can't harvest the carcasses without risking falling through the Ice.