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I think it is a safe assumption that many fantasy writers have never been hunting in real life. Really, why sit in a stuffy deer blind with no AC or toilet for hours on end when you could be reading books and sipping tea in your favorite armchair?

When it comes to hunt scenes, most people don’t notice the common inaccuracies because they are pretty consistently incorporated across TV and books. However, if someone is looking to appease the tiny demographic of fantasy-reading hunters, these are the things I’ve noticed books most frequently get wrong about hunting.

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And why would you WANT to kill this magnificent giant? I mean, look at him. By the laws of natural selection, he should live a nice, long life and the chance to have lots of equally pretty babies.

Game regularly comes in the size of midsize automobiles.

In truth, wild animals tend to be on the small side. The average wild boar, for example, will probably more resemble the dimensions of a Golden Retriever versus his overfed, domesticated cousin. (Unless a petty Greek deity is involved.)

Rabbits, pheasants, and other game are also pretty small, so just one of these is most likely not going to feed your group of five daring adventurers—unless they’re omnivorous pixies.

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Things get notoriously messy when it comes to bagging birds. It’s the feathers. Feathers everywhere.

Insta-death.

It is one of the more icky realities, but the clean, tidy kills we get on TV and in books are more than a little censored. In reality, animals pretty much never die straightaway, especially if you’re using a bow and arrow. Even if shot perfectly through the heart, animals are still capable of running several hundred yards before collapsing and in some cases can continue thrashing for several minutes.

More than a little disturbing, but true.

Stalking vs. Lying in Wait

Writers really like having their characters go gallivanting off into the woods to stalk their prey instead of setting up a perch and waiting for unsuspecting prey to come along. But moving through the forest “unseen and unheard” is hard. Very hard. Actual hunter-gatherer peoples spend years and years learning to stalk effectively and it’s still not easy. Even the best hunters come home empty-handed quite often.

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Wild bacon seeds can be plentiful at the right time of year, especially in areas with few natural predators, but even these brazen little piggies can be hard to pinpoint.

The forest is a 24/7 buffet.

One thing that bothers me is characters going off on hunts at random times of day, but nature is not your neighborhood Walgreens. Most animals only come out at dawn or dusk and hide for the rest of the day. Sure, you could theoretically go track them down, but it would take a long time and you’d have to basically be a freaking ninja as mentioned earlier.

In short, hunting is not nearly as glamorous or easy as we fantasy writers tend to make it sound. It’s icky and laborious and you’re probably better off just packing lots of lembas bread.

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