In a survival situation hunting is often the first thing that people expect to get their food from. There are problems with that though. Hunting is not easy. It’s not easy to prepare an animal for eating. For an unskilled character, hunting is not going to be an efficient use of their effort. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, it just means it’s likely to be a waste of time. For a moderately skilled character they may be justified in attempting to hunt in an unfamiliar environment but it would still not be easy.

The Challenges

One of the first challenges to hunting is recognizing whether there are creatures to be hunted in the area. Tracks and droppings are an easy way of telling for sure that animals exist in the area but can the character identify the tracks? What about the droppings? Going after any track you find could lead the character on a wild goose chase. A fox is very difficult to hunt because they know that you’re in the area long before you ever know you’re close. Skills like tracking are best suited to test for this but a successful roll doesn’t mean there are animals, it just means the character can identify if any travel through the area.

There are other signs that inform the trained eye how to hunt. Narrow paths cut through the woods show that animals often travel through an area. Setting up next to one has a good chance of getting the character close to the animal.

Next the hunter has to know if the animal protects itself and how. Many animals smell a human in the woods long before the human ever sees them. Some have excellent hearing, others rely on smell. This requires knowledge of the animals being hunted so a hunting skill check is in order.

Most RPGs already have fairly robust rules on figuring out if the character could hit their prey with a javelin, gun or bow. That can go ahead as normal if it ever gets to that stage but once the animal is down, what do you do with it? Field dressing and skinning an animal is not particularly hard but most people are repulsed at the idea. Some kind of willpower test is in order. If these steps are not taken, the meat will spoil quickly and possibly days of effort, wasted.

Beyond this, cutting up the meat so that it can be transported is a time consuming task but  wouldn’t take more than a few hours.

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