Take a look back at the best hunting scenes from the movies.
Hunters have been pictured on cave walls since the beginning of man, and Hollywood has continued to revere the hunter to this day in the modern art of film.
There are countless examples, but we listed some of our favorite movie moments which highlight hunters for their bravery, skill, and self-reliance.
Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
This thriller is actually loosely based on the true story of Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, an Irish engineer who hunted two lions that were killing and eating railway workers in Tsavo, Kenya. In real life, the killing was much more practical and less dramatic, with Patterson shooting and killing the lions from a tree stand. In this scene, Patterson, played by Val Kilmer, goes after the lions in a much more risky and unrealistic manner, but its all the more entertaining to watch as a result.
Jurassic Park (1993)
In Jurassic Park, Robert Muldoon is the African big game expert and warden assigned to caretaking the dinosaurs and ensuring the safety of guests. When things go haywire in the park and velociraptors run amok, he attempts to take one down with a shotgun. Although a supposed expert on hunting, he shows some questionable skills, like loudly adjusting his shotgun stock and sight at the worst possible moment. The raptors get the best of him in the end, but not before he has time to express his begrudging respect for his quarry with the classic line: “Clever Girl.”
Red Dawn (1984)
In this 1980s classic about Colorado teens forced to retreat to the mountains and wage a guerrilla war on Communist invaders, the protagonists must rely on hunting skills to survive. In this scene, they haze a younger member of their team, pressuring him to drink the blood of a deer that they killed, saying they did it before him, and the blood will give him the spirit of the deer and make him a real hunter. The scene is a great representation of how hunting is more than just a means of survival, it’s often a rite of passage.
The Grey (2011)
Whether you’re traveling in Europe or working oil pipelines in Alaska, it’d be good to have Liam Neeson watching your back. In this opening scene, Neeson plays John Ottoway, a hunter who protects workers from prowling wolves around the drill sites. In a gripping scene, he takes down a wolf at least 100 yards away while it is in full run, a difficult shot for even the most experienced hunter. Ottoway’s expertise on wolves and survival along with his ability to stay calm in overwhelming situations definitely comes into play later in the movie.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
This epic movie features Robert Redford as the eponymous Jeremiah Johnson, a veteran who retreats into the mountains to live the life of the mountain man. In this scene, he is mentored by an experienced mountain man on how best to approach and shoot an elk, by walking towards it behind the cover of his horse. While this strategy may not be the most practical in real life (and most horses would object to a rifle being fired close to their head), the scene does portray the necessary skills of staying hidden when approaching game, noting the wind, and taking your time when placing a shot. This scene is also symbolic, marking the beginning of Johnson establishing himself as a true hunter and mountain man who is skilled and totally independent.
Out of Africa (1985)
Another Robert Redford classic, this scene features big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton tracking a lion with his acquaintance Karen Blixen. Hatton is an attentive and careful hunter, mentioning how he is upwind of the lion he’s hunting and listening for signs of its presence. But he’s still caught unaware as a lioness springs from the grass and time seems to slow to a crawl, a feeling many hunters might say they’ve experienced during a dramatic hunt. Karen manages to take out the first charging lioness while Hatton takes out a second approaching from their other side. In a final moment, Hatton realizes that Karen has bitten her lip and drawn blood in the excitement. It’s a great representation of how quickly things can change from routine to exciting, or even outright dangerous, while hunting big game.
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Despite the name, this film is more about a group of friends who fight in Vietnam and are profoundly changed by their experiences. Still, an annual hunting trip they go on provides a powerful narrative tool to describe their pre-war and post-war lives. In this scene, Robert De Niro’s character Mike Vronsky stalks and kills a deer from afar. Sighting the deer during a climb up a rocky mountain, Vronsky loses his first shot opportunity at the animal before re-positioning himself and killing it in a relatively clean shot. The scene is an early indicator of Mike’s doggedness and survival spirit, which will help him get through the war and fight to keep his friends and himself together afterwards