Hunting is probably the pastime you’ll spend the most time doing in Red Dead Redemption 2. It gets you food, crafting supplies, and animal parts you can sell for cash.
But to get the most money for your time or to craft anything, you need to obtain Perfect Pelts. There’s a lot confusing about what goes into determining the quality of the pelt you get off of an animal. This guide will break it all down so you can get the best pelts every time.
Start with perfect animals
Once you’ve studied an animal, you’ll be able to see its quality when you’re looking at it through your binoculars or aiming at it with a weapon. The quality that you see next to the animal’s name in the lower right corner is the animal’s base quality. It’ll never get better than that, no matter how well you shoot it. Animals (and pelts) have three possible qualities: ★ (Poor), ★★ (Good) or ★★★ (Perfect).
Quality matters for a few reasons:
- Perfect carcasses and pelts earn you a lot more money than poor ones do when you turn them in at a butcher.
- If you’re butchering (skinning) the animal instead, Perfect-quality animals earn you more items (like meat or feathers) than poor ones.
This means that if you want to be efficient, you want to go for Perfect animals and Perfect kills every (or most of the) time.
Pick the best weapon for each animal
The base quality of the animal is where its carcass and pelt quality starts, but it can go down depending on how you kill it. It makes sense: If you shoot a squirrel with a shotgun, the pelt isn’t exactly going to be pristine.
To make sure you get Perfect Pelts, you have to use the right weapon, and the right weapon depends on the size of the animal. There are five sizes of animal in Red Dead Redemption 2: Small, Moderate, Medium, Large and Massive. The quick way to know which animals are in which category is by what Arthur does with them when he picks up or stows their carcass. Small animals go straight into his satchel, Moderate animals get skinned without a knife (ew) or tied to his saddle on the sides, Medium and Large animals require a knife to skin and get stowed on the back of his horse, and Arthur can only Massive animals — he can’t even carry them to his horse.
Once you know what size animal you’re dealing with, you can choose the right weapon to get your perfect kill. Bear (heh) in mind that your prey will only remain Perfect if you get a fatal shot (like a headshot). Each animal size category has (at least) one weapon you need to use if you’re trying to get a Perfect Pelt:
- Small animals like squirrels and frogs require a bow with Small Game Arrows. You can craft these arrows from a Flight Feather, an Arrow and a Shotgun Shell. (You can harvest Flight Feathers from birds you shoot.)
- Moderate animals, like rabbits and geese, need to be killed with the Varmint Rifle, which you can buy at a Gunsmith.
- Medium animals, like coyotes and beavers, have a few options. Bows, throwing knives, repeaters, rifles and sniper rifles will all give you Perfect kills, but a Repeater is your best bet.
- Large animals are a little harder to kill. You can take them down with bows (especially with Poison Arrows), rifles and sniper rifles. For these, a Rifle is the easiest.
- Massive animals are the hardest to kill. The only ways to get perfect kills are with sniper rifles, or bows equipped with Improved Arrows.
For Medium and Large animals, you have one other option: your lasso. Select it out of your weapon wheel, target the animal normally, then hold down R2/RT while you subdue the animal. Keep the trigger held down while you get off your horse and approach, and you’ll get a prompt to kill the animal cleanly.