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Red Dead Redemption 2: Perfect Pelts guide - How to get perfect pelts

How to get perfect pelts every time.

Once you’ve unlocked the Trapper in Red Dead Redemption 2, a brand new world opens up to you. Well, not an entirely new world, but one in which you’ll be able to don a bear’s head as a hat, or kit yourself out head to toe in moose fur.

Trouble is, to wear the fanciest, most outlandish garbs in the game - you’ll need to get hold of perfect animal pelts. The Trapper will only accept the very best animal hides on offer if he’s to craft some top quality clothing.

While hunting is explained in the early stages of the game, it’s very easy to forget the details. You’ve got to treat hunting as a methodical, surgical process where precision is key. It’s important to study your prey, select the right equipment for the job and execute your shot to perfection. Anyone can fell a Bison with a few choice shotgun blasts, but its pelt will be left in tatters. Learning how to execute a fatal, clean kill is essential if you want to keep your pelts in mint condition.

How to get perfect pelts

Study your prey

First off, you need to examine your target. If you’re close enough, press the left trigger to focus on your target, before holding the right shoulder button to study and identify your prey. If you're at a significant distance, pull out your binoculars and hold down the right shoulder button to perform the same action.

Bear in mind that you won’t have the option to study and examine a creature if you’ve already identified them previously.

Once you’ve studied a creature, their name will pop up in the bottom right corner, along with a star rating. A three star rating animal will produce a perfect pelt if you kill it cleanly and with the right tools. Any animal with a two star rating or lower will not produce a perfect pelt.

Where to shoot

Now you’ve got a target in your sights, you need to kill it cleanly and efficiently to preserve the quality of the pelt.

The damage you deal to a creature depends on the body part you hit. You will inflict fatal damage if you hit vital organs. Land a bullet in one of these regions and your target will flop to the ground instantly.

Normal Damage

Normal damage is inflicted if you simply gun an animal down without any care taken. You won't be able to earn perfect pelts this way.

Critical Damage

Once you’ve reached Dead Eye Level 5 (reached during Chapter 6), you’ll be able to identify a creature’s critical spots. These are marked in red when your reticule is close to them. Land a shot in a critical area and you will injure the animal severely, to the point where they will likely run away, bleed out and die. This will also grant you a chance of getting a perfect pelt.

Fatal Damage

Deal fatal damage to a target with the right weaponry and ammunition, and you'll earn a perfect pelt.

As you’d expect, the vital organs tend to be the brain and the heart. You will be able to identify vital organs once you’ve ranked up your Dead Eye to Level 4 (happens during Chapter 5), vital organs will be marked in red - an enormous help.

You also need to take into account what angle you’re shooting from and the weaponry you’re using. Shoot a bear in the head with a regular repeater and it’s unlikely to hit the brain. This is because the bullet isn’t powerful enough to penetrate through the skull. Specialised weaponry and bullets, while aiming from different angles is key.

To make things easier, you'll want to get closer to your target by reducing your scent, approaching upwind, and blending in with your environment as much as possible. Closing down distance between you and your target will increase your chances of landing a fatal blow, as your arrow or bullet will have less distance to travel.

When it comes to penetration, you should approach an animal from the side as it's more likely to hit a vital organ like the brain. We'd recommend going for the brain over the heart as it's an easier target to pinpoint.

Finally, the bow is a great hunting weapon and one you'll ideally want to use on most of your hunts. While other weapons will work - we've listed them all down below - the bow is silent, deadly and precise.

It supports six different ammo types, but four of them apply to hunting. Again, we've listed what ammo types will work on specific animals in the table at the bottom of the page, but here's a quick overview:

  • Arrow (purchased, regular ammunition)
  • Improved Arrow (crafted, +15 damage)
  • Small Game Arrow (crafted, -20 damage, effective against small prey)
  • Poisoned Arrow (crafted, +5 damage, effective against large prey)

Pack the right consumables

To improve your chances of success on a hunt for perfect pelts, you'll want to make sure you've got bait and cover scent handy. You can purchase these from general stores across the map, so stock up on them when you get the chance.

Baits increase the chance of attracting specific animals in a given area, and cover scents temporarily reduce the scent you give off, making it easier to approach an animal from downwind.

Related Guides:

Weapons and ammo to use

Here’s a list of all the weapons and ammo types you’ll need to use for every type of animal if you want to obtain a perfect pelt.

To craft all the top quality gear, you'll need to complete the game's story as this will grant you access to the weapons and ammunition listed below.

Animal SizeWeaponAmmo TypeHit TypeAnimal Examples
SmallBowSmall game arrowsFatal HitRats, bats, squirrels, bullfrogs and many species of bird
ModerateVarmint Rifle0.22 AmmoFatal HitIguanas, rabbits, armadillos, gila monsters, badgers, possums, skunks and larger species of birds
MediumBow, Repeater, Rifle, Sniper, Throwing Knife or Poison Throwing KnifeNormal arrows, any rifle ammo that isn’t explosive, and any sniper ammo except explosiveCritical and Fatal HitCoyote, fox, pig, beaver
LargeBow, Poison Throwing Knife, Rifle or SniperNormal arrows, Poison arrows, Poison Throwing Knives, any rifle ammo except explosive, and any sniper ammo except explosive Critical and Fatal HitBoar, buck, cougar, panther, big horn ram, wolf, deer, pronghorn, goat, sheep, peccary, alligator (small), turtle
MassiveBow, Poison Throwing Knives, Rifle, Sniper Rifle and ShotgunPoison Arrows, Improved Arrows, Poison Throwing Knives, any rifle ammo except explosive any sniper ammo except explosive, and shotgun slugsCritical and Fatal HitBear, Bison, Bull, Elk, Moose, Ox, Cow, Alligator (large)

For a complete guide to hunting in the game, make sure you give KhrazeGaming's video a watch below. It's thorough and exceptionally helpful if you're new to it all.

Cover image for YouTube videoRed Dead Redemption 2 Complete Guide to Hunting: Perfect Pelts,, Legendary Animals & Secret Items!

Video by KhrazeGaming

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Red Dead Redemption 2

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Ed Thorn

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When Ed's not cracking thugs with bicycles in Yakuza, he's likely swinging a badminton racket in real life. Any genre goes, but he's very into shooters and likes a weighty gun, particularly if they have a chainsaw attached to them. Adores orange and mango squash, unsure about olives.