One of Red Dead Redemption 2’s most lucrative money-making schemes is hunting, yet you’re not actually going to make any money unless you procure perfect pelts. Some crafting recipes for upgrades also require perfect pelts, so you can't just grab any old carcass and expect to make something new and shiny out of it. That would be far too easy!
An animal’s pelt can be affected by a number of environmental factors, as well as your hunting technique and the equipment you use, so you'll need to know what the best approach is and how to select the right tool for the job. In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to achieve perfect pelts on every hunting trip, so you always bring back top quality skins.
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Only hunt pristine animals
The easiest part of obtaining perfect pelts in Red Dead Redemption 2 is picking the right prey. When you’re out in the wild and you spot an animal, simply open up your weapon wheel and pull out your binoculars. Zoom in on your chosen animal, tap R1/RB and you should see a dialogue box pop up in the bottom left, which will tell you if the quality of the animal is Poor, Good or Pristine. If you’re on horseback, you can check an animal’s quality by aiming at it with your gun and tapping R1/RB. In both cases, you will also spot its star-rating in the bottom right of the screen when you’re focused on it. This is an easy means to make sure you’re not hunting a worthless animal.
To get perfect pelts, you simply cannot settle for anything but the best. You must only hunt animals that are pristine and hold a three-star rating, so as you approach a pack, aim at multiple prey until you find the right target. There are usually only one or (if you’re lucky) two perfect pelts available in a pack.
Pick the right tools for the job
When you’re studying an animal to hunt, the aforementioned dialogue box that tells you if it’s pristine or not will also let you know what you need to use to kill it. This varies across the entire compendium, so always check before you shoot.
For example, small game like frogs, snakes, squirrels, and ducks require a clean kill with a Small Game Arrow - anything else will ruin the pelt. To craft Small Game Arrows you need, well, arrows, plus shotgun shells and Flight Feathers, which you can earn by shooting most birds out of the sky.
Luckily, the rest of the animal classes simply require a specific weapon rather than crafted ammunition. Moderate animals like hawks, rabbits, badgers, and racoons require a clean kill with the Varmint Rifle. Medium sized animals like coyotes, foxes, or beavers will only produce a perfect pelt if you hit a clean shot with a Bow or a Repeater. Large animals like cougars, bucks, and deer will only be perfect if you hit a vital or critical organ with a bolt-action rifle, and Massive prey like bears, elk, or cows will only yield a perfect pelt if you use a sniper rifle.
Clearly, the solution is to fill out your weapon wheel for every occasion and always study the animal first to make sure you're using the right one. As for shooting it, that’s another matter.
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Shoot to kill
Hunting in Red Dead Redemption 2 is fairly unforgiving, especially if you want to attain perfect pelts to make the most amount of money when you’re selling to the Trapper. Even if you manage to find a three-star animal, you have to inflict fatal or critical damage by shooting at the right organs to achieve a perfect kill.
Now, hunting is going to be a lot easier for you when your Dead Eye rank is maxed out. Vital organs (the brain and the heart) are lit up in red when you enter Dead Eye once you reach rank 4 during Chapter 5, and critical organs (the lungs or the stomach) are exposed when you hit rank 5, which occurs during Chapter 6 of the campaign. So if you’re struggling to get clean kills, it pays dividends to push through the main story and start your hunting career in earnest near the end of your journey.
Most of the time, you can get away with a clean headshot on the animal, as long as you’re using the right weapon. Fail to hit any critical or vital organs or fill it with multiple rounds and you will spoil the pelt, even if the animal is pristine. The only way to ensure a perfect pelt is by dispatching of a three-star animal with a clean shot to a vital or critical organ.
Once you’ve dispatched of your prey, make sure to skin the pelt and take the carcass with you to your local Trapper for extra cash and crafting opportunities. That wraps up all you need to know in order to skin perfect pelts in Red Dead Redemption 2, so follow our tips and you’ll be a master hunter in no time.
How are you getting on with the hunting challenges? Check out our Red Dead Redemption 2 Master Hunter Challenges guide for the information you need to beat them all.