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Approaching the quarry
Stalking dinosaurs is not so much a challenge. When one of the larger beasts hears you, it takes five minutes for it to locate from which direction sounds you made came. By then, and knowing this, you have moved to a new location. Serendipity might have a beast quite randomly turn your direction immediately. If you’ve not taken precautions, you might be Tyrannosaurus breakfast. Otherwise, little skill is required to “sneak” up on Sauropods. Even Theropods rely on smell and earth vibrations to detect creatures in their vicinity. Remember, a quick dip in the river or swamp fairly-well disguises your scent. Short of stumbling through undergrowth or kicking loose stones as you sneak in on potential dinner for the next week, vibrations your movement sets off will seismically rank no higher than gentle breezes. You should, however, avoid boisterous male-bonding while hunting.
Breakfast? Yes. The best time to hunt dinosaurs is morning, soon after the dew starts dropping from shorter ferns. Dinosaurs are just, you know, evolving from cold-blooded to something not yet fully warm-blooded, somewhere in-between the two, evolution not yet sure which way to go, so the cool of morning gives you an advantage. Until the sun is full-on, dinosaurs are somewhat sluggish. Sluggish, be warned though, not inert.
Smaller prey, instinctively wary of larger carnivores, react more quickly. Depending on size, seeing you and your party, they might be hard pressed to decide an attack or flee response. If they determine you and your hunting pals potential food, you might have a bit of a fight on your hands. They’re speedier than you, so while tempted to consider smaller beasts easy game, that might work to your disadvantage.
If the boogers flee, resign yourself to look for another opportunity – they will outrun you. You might consider trading ‘hunting’ for ‘waiting.’ Waiting is not nearly as much an adrenaline rush, not as impressive to the ladies back at the home cave as hunting, and can be boring but might conserve your energy reserves. Be mindful that while you are cleverly executing a ‘wait,’ larger dinosaur species also considering smaller species in-play might stumble upon you in their search and you are in fact a smaller species.
Why, you ask, does it take, even after they’ve warmed-up, so long for dinosaurs to pinpoint your location? One of the most often ignored features of dinosaurs is that they have no ears. New canine and feline offshoot species have ears, as do developing ursine family branches – you can see their ears. Not so dinosaurs. Not an ear anywhere to be seen. Figure you have a few millennia to take advantage of that fact. If dinosaurs sprout ears, all bets are off.
Once you’ve located quarry you and your mates can handle, or believe you can handle, the real fun of hunting begins.
Tools of harvest
Rock collections, aside from esthetic value are nice to have lying about the home cave but not useful for harvest. Larger, flat, sharp edged brittle rocks are good for trimming, filleting, and portioning the harvest, but clumsy bringing your game down. If your thoughts are to bludgeon your game, consider they are thick-skinned, often plated creatures impervious to your hurling puny blunt rocks at them.
Sharp rocks to pierce the skin and damage vitals of your quarry require one of two approaches.
Close-quarter deployment, even for herbivores tends to be fool-hardy. A simple swipe of even a medium-sized beast’s head or tail will put you out of commission, burden your hunting companions with seeing to your safety, which they likely will altogether ignore.
What remains, and proves most effective, is a long stick with a small but ludicrously sharp rock attached to its end by vine-wrapping or wedging it securely into a notch at the stick’s business end. Better adaptations use notching and wrapping at once. Close quarter approaches are still requisite but not nearly as close as trying to stab using only a rock clutched in your hands.
Sturdy, pointy sticks or rocks attached to the ends of sticks, coupled with a small target and a bit of brute strength, are effective hunting approaches. A larger hunting party is also a good idea, several hunters at the work of bringing the beast to harvest are recommended. The larger and more irritable the quarry, the greater the advantage in larger hunting party numbers.
New techniques are being developed such as ‘herd-hunting’ which looks to drive prey to the edge of a precipice, causing them to fall to their demise. Details are not solid here as this practice introduces the need to get heavy prey out of the canyon, hole, or pit. Too, more than the shortest herding distances expose both hunter and quarry to larger carnivores themselves mid-hunt and allows more opportunity for prey to become upset by the whole idea, turning on and decimating a hunting party.
Prey such as Brontosaurus and Diplodocus are of such a size and of such dim wit they cannot be driven. While taking down such a beast would be a boon aside from getting the spoils back to the home cave, even the largest hunting party would be not more than a Lilliputian comedy facing a large herbivore. Here, as a herding-to-demise hunt is ineffective, you are left to a direct assault, the sheer disparity in size suggesting failure.
Trendy humane practice
Fortune with you, after downing one of the beasts, it’s the humane thing to do to make certain they have checked-into Mesozoic heaven. With fifteen or twenty of your hunting partners, rapidly twist the beasts’ head side-to-side sharply to break its neck. Intrepid hunters who have downed Tyrannosaurus, Megalosaurus, or such are advised to be mindful of teeth. Even in a reflexive spasm, poorly developed as it is in the beasts, a mere twitch by a Megalosaurus, could slice your head from your chest in a blink. Smaller beasts, such as a Compsognathus, not so much normal prey unless your home cave is thinly populated, are less apt to cause injury. Nonetheless, a nick from a last-gasp spasm will fill the air with an odd blood aroma likely to attract a large carnivore intent on making you a brief snack.
Waste not, want not
Before scavenging carnivores and crawly and air things take over your harvest and after the choicer portions of your quarry have been sent back to hunting party home caves, remember to exploit your harvest beyond meat.
Teeth of even the smallest carnivores make marvelous cutting tools. Larger teeth with those jagged edges even make nice attachments to hunting sticks. This is pretty much what their original owners effectively used them for.
Neck and body prey skin not suitable for foot and body covering, when dried make good cave floor decorations, reducing mud and dust into and out of the cave. Narrow strips of skin, when wrapped around stones or teeth wedged into hunting sticks will dry over a period of weeks into an almost permanent binding. Strips beyond that necessary for hunting tools handily bind two of almost anything when properly snarled and twisted. Cleverly used strips of skin and sinew can pinch various internal beast tubes and pouches closed to effectively carry potables on high place hunting trips.
Next week – some new post hunt ideas
Borg Rocktosser of Sunward Bigbog recently dropped a Stegosaur hock into a geyser pool. It took him several minutes to pierce it with his hunting stick to pull it from the water. Finding the smell of the salvaged hock not unpleasant, he took the hock to his home cave. Mindy Rocktosser, thinking it a new kind of game meat, served it to her family. All found the meal pleasant with less of the flatulence normally associated with Stegosaur. Mindy has since tried several different game varieties after geyser dipping and suggests this might be something for all to consider.
Imogene Yellowmoss of Bywater, local vegetation harvester reports garlic root, normally rubbed on the skin to repel “bugs,” that was once left on a slice of Diplodocus by mistake imparted an interesting taste. She has since dropped many different plants onto meat with varying but similar happy results. “Garlic,” she reports, “is almost now essential when preparing Oviraptor, offsetting some of the gamey taste in Theropods.” Maybe that’s why Sauropods are preferred over Therapods, despite the fact Sauropods for their size are generally more difficult to hunt.
Here at the home office, we are wondering if some combination of Rocktosser and Yellowmoss technique is possible. Check back with us in a few weeks.