Red Dead 2 Perfect Pelts Hunting Guide - Which Weapons to use and How to get them

Perfect Pelts in Red Dead Redemption 2 are rewarded when you get the best kill possible. This is no easy feat since the hunting system in the game is very intricate. It has a lot of moving parts. In this article we’ll go through all the basics and some advanced techniques to help you get perfect pelts in RDR2. These hides are required for crafting various outfits and camp upgrades. For you fashion aficionados out there hunting will be a very important activity if you want to have Arthur look just right. Included here is also a list of which weapon to use for each animal group to get the perfect pelt. We hope this hunting guide will help you get that much sought after perfect hide.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Perfect Pelts Hunting Guide

How to get Perfect Pelts from animals in Red Dead 2?

You have to find animals of pristine quality and kill them with the appropriate weapon by shooting them in critical spots. When said like that it might sound easy, but things are not as straightforward. Each animal in the game has three different qualities marked with star ratings in the lower right of the screen when you inspect them. Three star animals are pristine and are the only ones that can drop perfect pelts. Legendary animals can be killed with whichever weapon you want and however you want. You always get legendary pelts from them.

▼Article Continues Below▼

If you shoot an animal with the wrong weapon it will reduce its hide quality. There are five sizes of animals: small, moderate, medium, large and massive. Each size needs to be killed with either a bow, varmint rifle, rifle, repeater (yes these are different then rifle) or scoped rifle (sniper). Obviously you will have to be far enough into the game to have access to all these weapons. They can all be purchased from gunsmiths or found in the open world. The list of which animal size needs to be killed with which weapon is further down in the article.

Fatal, Critical and normal shots

Lastly, there are three types of shots you can do on an animal. At the very beginning of the game you are told that you have to shoot deer in the head or neck for critical kills. Each animal size has the same rules. You can shoot the animal with a fatal hit, which kills it instantly. This is hard to do and only a small area on the animal will grant you this shot. There are critical hits that will take a large chunk of health and preserve the dropped hide quality. If you miss these two hits you will get a normal hit and probably spoil the quality of the hunted animal’s pelt. Each of your shots have to be fatal or critical to get a perfect pelt.

List of Weapons to use for each animal type to get Perfect Pelts in RDR2

Bellow is a table showing all animals and which size group they belong to and which weapon to use for perfect kills. You can one shot kill small animals with a bow equipped with Small Game Arrows. Craft these in the gang’s camp or in the field via your Items wheel. Moderate animals need to be killed with Varmint Rifle and are also one shot kills. To kill medium sized animals use Repeaters and then shoot them with fatal or critical hits. For large animals use Rifles. Massive sized animals require to be hunted with scoped rifles and then shot in the correct spots.

Animal SizeAnimalWeapon Type
SmallBat, Bullfrog, Chipmunk, Snake, Squirrel, Rat and ToadBow with small game arrows
ModerateArmadillo, Badger, Gila Monster, Iguana, Muskrat, Possum, Rabbit, Raccoon, SkunkVarmint Rifle
MediumBeaver, Coyote, Fox, PigRepeater
Bow with normal arrow
LargeAlligator (Small), Big Horn Ram, Boar, Buck, Cougar, Deer, Goat, Panther, Peccary, Pronghorn, Sheep, Wolf, TurtleRifle
Bow with poison arrow
MassiveAlligator, Bear, Bison, Bull, Cow, Elk, Moose, OxScoped Rifle (sniper)
Bow with improved arrow

If you end up getting stuck at another point, you might want to check out some of the other guides we have. We've written about mysteries like the missing person Gavin, the Rhodes Gunsmith prisoner, the locked door at Valentine doctor. We also have instructional guides that show how to rob stores without getting bounty or where to sell jewelry and gold bars. If it's collectibles or key items you're after, we've found all the Penny Dreadful comic books, Chick's treasure map location, or that famous pipe for Dutch. Finally, if you don't care to explore the map yourself, you could take a look at our Watson's Cabin and Catfish Jackson's Homestead locations guides. In the latest Red Dead Online Moonshiners Update you'll have a chance to find Navy Revolver and Best Shack Locations.

Author Serge profile picture
Having games be part of his life since Commodore 64 it was only natural that Serge co-founded With every new game he travels from being the Noob to being Gosu. Whether he does coding or editorial work on the website he is still amazed by the fact that gaming is what he does for living.

Featured Videos



  1. C

    used a repeater and a bow on a beaver and it still ruined the pelt

    1. K

      use small game arrow

    2. W

      Use vermint rifle. After examining an animal, it shows what weapon to use.

  2. J

    Use a varmint rifle for the beaver

    1. S
      sam curren

      are you sure it works?

  3. B

    I’ve killed a few deer by lassoing them and stabbing them with the knife and gotten perfect pelts. Not sure if it works every time but it definitely works.

    1. O

      Yes I did the same, works with all animals you can lasso. It also builds up your health core as melee kills count up to grow your health “circle” A lot more fun, no waiting around just chase them down, lasso, stab and perfect kill. Bulllits cost money too right.

      1. B
        Bill H

        Also, lassoing and pulling them in builds up Stamina.

  4. B
    Bill H

    Part of the problem is that RDR2 runs two parallel scales of size for animals: one for horse-load, and one for weapon selection. For example, a beaver counts as Moderate for weapons (varmint rifle is ideal), but is Large when carrying it around (pelt goes on the back of the horse not in the satchel, carcase takes up the horse’s rear slot not one of the side slots). This can lead to confusion and weapon mis-matches when hunting. HINT: use the “Get Info” button!

    It’s worth mentioning that, within its range, a bow is a universal weapon- there’s an arrow for eveything.

  5. S
    sam curren

    Great article. very helpful

  6. D

    Shot a pronghorn right in the head with a bolt action rifle and got only a 1 star pelt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.