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I have wood, hatchet, hunting knife, and matches. I know (in theory) how to use these to cook meat, but I'm failing to find the delicious meat-containing animals. I've seen one rabbit in my few days of playing DayZ, and that seems to bode poorly for not starving in the wilderness.

What are successful hunting strategies?

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Most of your food is supposed to come from scavenged canned goods, I believe. –  SaintWacko Aug 8 '12 at 20:21
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Incorrect, it is beneficial in multiple ways to eat hunted food instead of canned goods. –  Brett Bender Aug 8 '12 at 20:37

3 Answers 3

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Where to find animals ?

Animals spawn mostly in fields except for pigs and rabbits who seem to spawn more frequently in forest. Also, chickens spawn in towns. However, it may be easier to find an animal in a field since the open field is more visible than the forest.

Hunting strategies

By following some simple DayZ rules, you'll be able to safely hop from field to field and search for cows, lambs, pigs or sheeps. Once you find one of these, be sure to look around and search for potential threat. Since most animals spawn in open fields, players are the biggest threat and they will be able to spot you easily.

Rabbits move the fatest. Rabbits will be extremly difficult to kill and will yield the lowest amount of meat (Watch this for more info). Other animals are mostly static and will be quite easy to get to.

Choosing a weapon

Choosing a weapon for the kill may seem trivial but it can save your life. Remember that sound in this game is really important. Getting heard from far away can attract unwanted attention and can easily get you killed.

The hatchet would be your weapon of choice. Quiet and powerfull, it will be easy to kill, gut, and leave unheard.

The Crossbow will give you about the same result as the hatchet, but at longer range. It may be useful if a zombie is near.

If you don't have any space left to swap in and out your hachet, using a handgun is really your best choice in this case. Try to get out of the field really fast and do your business far away so you don't get caught by unwanted visitors. Most handgun requires two shost to kill an animal, so you may want to conserve ammo.

A silenced weapon would be a nice choice, but I wouldn't waste any ammo on this if another weapon is available.

Last, any primary gun if nothing else is available.

Gutting and results

To gut an animal you need a Hunting Knife.

Cows: 8 pieces of raw meat
Sheep: 5 pieces of raw meat
Pig: 4 pieces of raw meat
Lamb: 3 pieces of raw meat
Rabbit: 1 piece of raw meat
Chicken: 1 piece of raw meat

Cooking meat

Cooking meat requires wood and a box of matches. To make a fireplace, you must have wood in your main inventory. Then, right click on the box of matches and choose "Create fireplace".

Once this is done, you can light a fire. From there, it's easy to queue actions. So you light the fire, then cook the meat, then put out the fire and then take the cooked meat from the fireplace. The faster the better since you will lower your chance to attract visitors.

Also worth mentioning is that you can use oil barrel in towns (such as Cherno or Elektro) and light them up. This will also give you the option to cook any meat you have on you.

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Excellent answer. I might add this link to the inventory management section of Sacriel's guide for beginners just in case future readers are entirely new to the system. –  AlphaStrik3 Aug 9 '12 at 0:34
    
Thanks! One clarifying question: when you say "field", you mean farm fields, right? I'm guessing natural fields like clearings in the woods don't count as fields. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 9 '12 at 19:08
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@SevenSidedDie Mmm, good question. I've always assumed that an open area would spawn an animal. I can't confirm this though. But, I've seen pigs in cleared forest. –  Allov Aug 9 '12 at 19:15
    
Semi-confirmed! I just found (and ate) my first cow. It was in a semi-wild clearing, though near a stone wall and a town (the clearing south of Msta, uphill from the deer stand). So at least it's not limited to tilled fields or hayfields. –  SevenSidedDie Aug 9 '12 at 20:09

Usually when I hunt, I move through treelines outside of cities/villages (although further from these is safer from players usually). Keep an eye on fields - you are unlikely to find cows and horses in the woods (although you can find boars [4 meat] and rabbits [1 meat] there).

Open fields with horses or cows are best, but be careful when gutting / looting animals that you are actually alone. You'll be a sitting duck to a sniper while taking 10 seconds to gut/loot the meat.

Travel along treelines, keep your eyes open, and use peripheral dots to see animals at a greater distance than you normally would be able to (even works over hills / behind trees).

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Basically, just travel and scout around. I haven't come across any information on spawn-patterns for game, and haven't discerned any myself; I've found cows at the farm, and I've found cows on railroad tracks.

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Pretty sure cows/horses spawn in fields, but wander. Boars and rabbits can spawn in fields or woods (I think?). –  Brett Bender Aug 8 '12 at 20:41
    
Oh, yes, they don't spawn on top of buildings, say. There are rules that govern this. But as far as stricter rules than that, I'm unsure. 'Fields', in terms of Day Z, seems to cover roughly 40% of the game field. –  Christopher Berman Aug 8 '12 at 20:45
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Yes, the intent of my statement was actually "cows and horses do not spawn in the woods, only some types of game do". As per my anecdotal evidence, cows/horses/goats, etc spawn only in fields. It is possible to find them in weird places given enough time to wander from their spawns. –  Brett Bender Aug 8 '12 at 20:57

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