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In Skyward Sword, the Octoroks behave similar to Deku Scrubs from previous games - they hide as bushes when you get too close, so you can't just slash at them with a sword.

However, I cannot seem to bounce their rocks back at them no matter how hard I try - the rocks just bounce off of my shield (if I even manage to get it up in time - I haven't quite figured out how that works, either) and don't seem to reach the Octoroks to kill them.

How can I kill them so that they stop killing me?

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You can reflect their pellets back at them in two ways:

  • With your sword: Do a vertical swipe at the projectile.
  • With your shield: Jab your Nunchuk forward just before the pellet hits for a counter-block.

Also, once you get the Slingshot from Bucha, you can shoot them (which stuns them), then run up and simply finish them with your sword.

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    To do the Shield Bash, you don't necessarily have to jab the nunchuk forward, a shake will do just fine. Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 23:32

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