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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, everyone. I am an author of young adult fiction, and I'm currently writing a book set in a world with American colonial-level technology. I would like to include a scene of a group of men/boys who go hunting deer to feed the people in a caravan.

Problem is, I am not a hunter, and need some help. Basically, I would like to pick your brains on the basics. Call it research! :wink: In the past, I've found it's much easier to learn about a subject through discussion than through a textbook.


  1. How many people can make up a hunting party?
  2. Would they go on horseback, or on foot?
  3. Would they take a dog?
  4. Would they hunt with rifles, or with bows? - this is more of an advantage/disadvantage question, let me worry about the time period and available equipment
  5. How long can a hunt take?
  6. How is a deer tracked?
  7. For eating, would they go for a buck or a doe (or does it matter)?
  8. How many people can one deer feed?
  9. How would they get the deer back?

Thank you very much in advance. I am open to links to helpful articles, anecdotes, and plain fact, if you are interested in helping me.

Regards,
Rachel
 
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normally there wasn't so much of a hunting party as the older male family members going to get food. for a caravan i would think as many as possible taking into account the safety of those left behind.

horseback or by foot? well that could be either or both. as folks lived in one place for longer periods of time game would become more scarce and they would have to go farther and farther out to find game, which could be just about any animal.

they very well could have brought a dog along. if they were out hunting food just about any animal is fair game. raccoons, but they would be more of a nocturnal type animal, squirrels, birds, rabbits, opossum another nocturnal animal, woodchuck/ground hogs, beaver, are only some of the things that would be taken. they didn't hunt for any one animal really, if it was to feed the family, any and all would do.

colonial times the weapon of choice would be a musket or shot gun.

a hunt would take as long as needed to get food or if they needed to take care of things at home may have just been for the day or partial day. hunting today is a tradition or sport if you will, but i really don't care for calling it a sport, makes one think of baseball and that's not what hunting is about. back then it was subsistence hunting. subsistence hunting was done right up into the 1960's and to a small part still done today.

a deer is tracked by following the sign it leaves behind, tracks, scat, and feeding sign, but if one was hunting for food the freshest sign, regardless of what the animal was, would be followed.

buck or doe wouldn't mater they both eat well.

figure a 1/4 pound of meat per person per meal, so a 50 pounds of meat, roughly one deer, could be 200 meals if cooked with vegetables and what have you.

they would bring the deer back whole in order to use everything that could be used. they would eat parts of the animal that today wouldn't be touched. plus use the hide bone and antler, if the deer had them at the time.

most people would have survived on small game, fish, birds. there are about 5 times the number of deer, in the US today, than there was during colonial times. i think i read somewhere, the estimate for the time of the europeans arrival was about 800,000 deer total. now its several million deer.

good luck with the book
 

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pretty good book report ronn!

Also, there was danger lurking beyond the town borders so hunting parties would give some assurance of a successful return.

Starvation was a grim reality in the early years. Farming was simply growing anything that would grow in a small yard plot.

i would think trapping was done as well for the furs and leather for garments/shoes.

Towns were constructed inside of walled palaside to protect the peoples in hostile enviroments.

just some quick thoughts to add to ronn's report.
 
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pretty good book report ronn!

Also, there was danger lurking beyond the town borders so hunting parties would give some assurance of a successful return.

Starvation was a grim reality in the early years. Farming was simply growing anything that would grow in a small yard plot.

i would think trapping was done as well for the furs and leather for garments/shoes.

Towns were constructed inside of walled palaside to protect the peoples in hostile enviroments.

just some quick thoughts to add to ronn's report.
thanks hm, i tried by best but i'm sure i missed things like trapping was probably more important to survival than hunting.
 

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"I would like to include a scene of a group of men/boys who go hunting deer to feed the people in a caravan."

I believe people traveling in caravans/wagon trains considered traveling 8 miles in a day to be an exceptional day's work. (depending upon hills, mountains, rivers, other natural obstacles, etc.) I also believe that travel stopped mid to late afternoon to allow wagons to be circled and hunting parties to be sent out for that evening's food. But as for your story line, I'm guessing that you're writing about a family traveling west from the relative safety of the colonies' cities out into the wilderness.

Back then there was plenty to be wary about, from nature itself, to bears, to unfriendly natives. I'll agree with a lot that Ronn has already written about each of your numbered items, disagreeing with little (if anything at all).
1) Hunting party would have to account for 1) number of men/boys in the party as well as 2) number remaining at the caravan to safeguard the women/children. I would venture to guess the party would number 5 - 10 depending on the size of the caravan/wagon train.
2) Horseback vs. on foot. Hmmm. . . that's difficult to say. Could be both, or either. I'd venture to guess being on foot would be a lot stealthier as the horse would/could spook any game. (Same said for the dog of # 3)
4) Definitely muskets or shotguns.
5) Hunt would not last over an hour or so in order to get back to the safety of camp before dark.
6) How was deer tracked? Same as I do today by looking at any signs left behind, i.e. tracks, droppings, deer trails, etc.
7) Agree with Ronn -- doesn't matter
8) Ronn answered this one pretty well
9) How to get back? Same as a lot of hunters do today when up in the high country -- quarter the deer and divvy the quarters to those in the party to carry. Some could be ingenious and rig a travois behind a horse like the native indians did.

Good luck on your story!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wonderful! Thank you so much, all of you. I really appreciate your time and help. This is fantastic information to get me started. I don't even have follow-up questions - these answers are very clear and easy to understand.

Warm regards,
Rachel
 
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