I think the old newspapers would have called this an Extra 😉 While The Hunter – Call of the Wild is a hunting game, hunting doesn’t always equate to shooting with a gun. Here’s some photo type shots from an encounter in Hirschfelden with a young male Fallow Deer – Unsure and inquisitive he steps out of cover…

…Then more boldly out into the open…

…advancing to within a few metres…

…Until he suddenly realised I was there in the bushes. Time to go…

…and no, I didn’t shoot him, except with the camera 🙂

In my closeout post for last year I suggested that I would be resetting my The Hunter – Call of the Wild profile and starting out again. I have now done that and set out on the trail anew with a couple of ideas of how I want to progress. I have decided that I will be using mainly the weapons that are free to me courtesy of the DLC’s I have bought plus those guns that are given free to everyone. The exceptions will be those that I need to purchase for certain tasks, ie the Coachmate 45-70 which I will need to complete one of Doc’s challenges in Layton Lakes. Another exception will be the Docent .223 which I will need for Fox and Coyote while reducing the weight I need to carry.

Although I will be using equipment that is not available to all beginners (depending on whether they own the basic game or a bundle including some of the DLC’s), Some of what I will be talking about will be beneficial to those who may have decided to give the game a try and are looking for advice. So let’s start there.

When you kick off, it’s normal to choose either Layton Lakes or Hirschfelden. If you bought a bundle and have other reserves available to you like Medved Taiga and Vurhonga Savannah, you can start there instead but I would suggest against that. Both have very challenging missions presented early on that require equipment and skills that the absolute beginner does not have.

I usually start in Hirschfelden. In each of the original reserves, the first mission is designed to give you your first kill with a small deer that is just standing around waiting for you to shoot it. You’re given some basic weapons – The .243 rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun and the .357 handgun. Also in your pack are three lures – Roe Deer, Bleat and JackRabbit callers (the latter being designed to call Fox and Coyote). You also get basic binoculars. My usual plan of action when starting (I’ve done it a few times for a variety of reasons) is to use a caller to bring the deer to me and then shoot it side on at close range with the shotgun. This will normally result in a quick kill.

Ok, That’s normally. Animals being contrary, don’t always respond to calls! This time my sacrificial Roe Deer stood firm at the bottom of the hill with her nose in the air and ignored me. Which at least gives me the opportunity to demonstrate the deficiencies of the .243 rifle when using soft point amunition (which you get a lot of in your starting pack and is always available for free)…

…Low powered soft point amunition doesn’t have the ability to penetrate muscle. You can see that the shot was on target to probably hit the animal’s heart and one of the lungs but the bullet just can’t get through the muscle at the front of the chest. The result is the deer runs off for a moderate distance before succumbing to blood loss and I loose some XP and cash. So, the first advice for any beginner is try to shoot all your early animals from close range and the side until you unlock access to Polymer Tipped amunition. Even then, side-on shots are generally a safer option as you have a larger target to hit with less muscle and bone in the way!

I made my way through the rest of the introductory missions to the first outpost. Often you will pick up another kill or two on the way there to boost your finances but on this occasion, no other animals crossed my path which limited my options – the weapons I was going to add might be free but the amunition certainly isn’t! Here’s my first loadout…

I have retained the .243 with its soft point ammo because it is still an effective option for Fox. My main rifle is the Solokhin which uses 7.62mm rounds. These are also soft point but any similarity with the .243 ends there. The 7.62mm is a military round and has plenty of power to give you the penetration needed. I’ve also got the Koter bow which is a very effective close range weapon. Finally, I have the Muertos .45 pistol – significantly more capable than the 357 because it has Hard Cast ammunition rather than soft point.

Hunting for Deer by the lake near the Rathenfeldt outpost gives an opportunity for enjoy the view through the binoculars as the Fallow come down to drink (usually mid-morning)…

…and that’s what I’m waiting for…

…a male Fallow has joined them. Another lesson for any beginner in this game – patience is a virtue. The male animal of most species is usually worth more in cash and xp than the female because of the trophy factor of those horns, so it’s worth the wait to see if a better animal appears. Let’s see how the 7.62 ammo does from a similar angle to our .243 shot…

…This time the bullet has penetrated the muscle at the front of the chest and hit the lung. The animal went down very quickly, which is what we want 🙂

I also did some hunting with the bow earlier, bringing down a female Fallow…

…One of the advantages of bow hunting is that it is almost silent. Being unsure what had happened, the other females wandered back allowing me to shoot another. Another example of being patient paying dividends – don’t be in too much of a hurry to claim your kill or you may miss the opportunity of a follow-up! Until recently, the hunting pressure created by using a bow was the same as any of the noisier weapons but the developers have listened to the community and now using a bow creates much less ‘pressure’ than a rifle as shown by this map…

…The bright pink is my Fallow Deer male rifle kill while the dark shading to the left is where I had bow kills 🙂 I wonder if a similar modification will be made for using an air rifle – might be too complicated to implement as it sits somewhere between the bow and a normal rifle for noise.

Finally, if you quickly check back to my loadout, you’ll see Scent Eliminator down the bottom – another thing that you get given when you start. I don’t use it – just haven’t got around to replacing it with the much more useful first aid kit! However, it serves to provide a reason to show this early hunter’s profile and talk about frightening animals…

…The way most animals are scared away is through sound. Noise is unavoidable when hunting but you can minimise it by crouching while moving through the undergrowth. So, if you’re going somewhere in a hurry – walk along the road or track – it makes less noise than walking through the undergrowth and therefore scares fewer animals 🙂 You’ll notice that no animals have been scared by my scent – that’s partly because I do try to keep myself downwind of animals that I’m hunting and partly because the animals become aware of a presence through scent but it is not usually the deciding factor in them fleeing. Although I have experimented with the Scent Eliminator in the past and believe it does reduce the chances of an animal detecting you, it’s marginal. You can probably throw it in the bin for all the good it might do and save some weight 😉

I’ll be back with another Birdshot in the future. No animals were harmed during the making of this post. Now I’m off to feed the birds in the garden 🙂

This is the first post since the changes to the scoring system went live in The Hunter – Call of the Wild. I have had the chance to really get to understand the impact of those changes and to see the effect on the weapons in game, especially since we’re mainly stuck indoors at the moment. Some of the weapons got minor improvements too – the Docent .223 being an example that the developers talked about, so lets start with that rifle.

The .223 rifle has been made lighter and slightly more powerful. How realistic that is in terms of the real world equivalent, I don’t know, but the reasoning behind the changes was to make the gun more useful to balance out a hunter’s weapon’s loadout where there was a need for a light small bore gun to keep within weight limits. The .223 is now classed as 2 to 4 ammunition which means it can be used up to deer such as Fallow. Prior to this change, the main reason to carry the .223 was to hunt Fox in Hirschfelden or Siberian Musk Deer in Medved. On most other reserves it was not a weapon you’d carry – and judging by the completion rate of the Steam achievement for bringing down 50 Foxes – not many hunters were choosing to carry it in Hirschfelden either. These changes could have made it a much more popular rifle – But…

One of the key changes within the new animal classification system was the move of Foxes up to level 2 alongside Coyotes and Jackals. What that means is that the gun you get as a starting weapon, the Ranger .243, can now be used to shoot Fox. Additionally, although they never said as much, it has been noted by some in the community that the .243 seems to have had a bit of a buff too! I’ve noticed that it seems more effective than before and I’m tending to carry it as part of my regular loadout. What this means is that the .223 actually becomes superfluous and I can’t think of a reason to carry one. Let’s take a break at this point and bring the Outdoors, Indoors, with a screenshot of some Hirschfelden scenery…

Another gun that is impacted by the changes is the 7.62mm Solokhin – once the darling of just about everyone. Its ammo class was moved from 2 to 6, where it sat alongside and outclassed the .243, to 3 to 7. With the .243 now being more effective and other very potent rifles such as the Eckers .30-06 now usable for animals of level 4 and above, there really is no reason to carry it. So Fox, Coyote, Roe, Springbok are all covered by the .243 and I can start shooting reltively small deer like Fallow, Blacktail and Kudu with the very powerful Regent Magnum 7mm or the Eckers or one of the newer guns in the game, which I’ll talk about in some detail in another post. The only reason to carry the Solokhin now is because you love it! Lets have another scenery break – this time in Layton Lakes, Oregon. If you look closely you can see a Black Bear wandering through the reserve…

Let’s talk about the way that the scoring system changes have impacted the game. No one likes taking a bad shot – lets get that stated at the start. The old system penalised bad shots by downgrading your trophy if the animal took more than 8 seconds to die. Unfortunately, it was quite possible to do a good shot on an animal with a legitimate lower powered weapon which ultimately killed it, and still fall foul of that arbitrary mechanism. The new scoring system has removed the Quick Kill element from the Trophy rating of an animal that you kill. Instead, there are 4 checks that you must comply with to get the full trophy for the animal. Use of correct ammo class – using a level 4 gun like the Eckers on a Roe deer which is Level 3 will cause this to fail. Shooting the animal more than twice – there’s no machine guns in game but this is to deter the wild and reckless type of shooting. No damage to the parts that constitute the ‘Trophy’ element of the animal – usually the head. And, most importantly, the animal must have been hit in vital organs which are Heart, Lungs and Liver. Stomach, intestines and spine do not count but a shot that breaks the animal’s neck does. Effectively, this is the check that replaces the old Integrity and forces the player to put every effort into making a good shot. Let’s look at that in practice. Here’s a volunteer Fallow Deer……and this is one of the latest addition to the rifle armoury – the M1 – which is a valid weapon for this animal……We line up the sights, and squeeze the trigger……Bang – and it’s time to go and collect our animal……You can see from the blood that this animal went down instantly, which is what we want to see. Here’s the screen that tells the story of the kill……Right Lung and Liver count for the vital check.

So, what happens if an animal that I shoot in vital organs doesn’t go down instantly? There is still a penalty. The experience points score is reduced and so is the amount of credits earned. So it’s desirable to shoot the animal with the most powerful weapon and ammo that you can use so that it is stopped in its tracks. The ammo class for each weapon gives a range of animal classes – 2 to 6 for example. It’s good practice to view this as meaning that the weapon is good for 2 to 4 class animals and switch to a more powerful weapon for 4 to 6 Class animals. The beloved Regent Magnum with it’s 7mm shell is 4 to 9 but above class 6 it will become less effective and the quick kills may not happen. I did take down a Lion with it in Vurhonga Savannah from just over 100 metres but it was a perfect side-on shot that got both lungs. Even so, the animal made around 30 meters before going down, impacting the earnings and points slightly……And it’s worth remembering that those perfect side on shots are a rare luxury!

Overall, I think the changes are good. I think the issue of ensuring that our hunting is carried out with integrity has been well addressed whilst the true flexibility of the individual weapons is probably more accurately represented in the range of animal classifications that each can shoot. It is now possible to carry a single loadout of 3 rifles and be able to take down any animal in every reserve in the game – a sort of universal loadout. I think that a lot of players will still change their loadout’s for each reserve because they value specific weapon characteristics in different circumstances or because variety is the spice of life! I will certainly be swapping my weapons around.

It’s a lovely morning outside in London but – as we can’t go out there – so let’s bring that glorious weather indoors……Have a great time wherever you are and stay safe!