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I'm writing a medieval fantasy hunter character whose gimmick is that he's really good at climbing trees. If you can imagine a tree being climbed, then this guy can climb it without breaking a sweat before you finish imagining it. Basically Tarzan, but with bow and arrow.

But as far as I know, people have been hunting animals just fine since forever by waiting, stalking, chasing, or even just using an elevated platform, no tree climbing required. Realistically, how useful would this ability be in hunting? What can it do that regular hunting methods don't? And if it's not that big of a deal after all, what fantastic elements can I add to my story to make this ability really special?

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    $\begingroup$ What environment is the character operating in? Tropical jungle, European forest, arctic tundra? $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Dec 25 '20 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ There are a lot of hunters on the internet. Hunting is a thing that a lot of people do, but I dont see those kinds of people here in that stack exchange. You should perhaps consider tapping into the existing resources and look for actual hunters. However, hunting has been a legal nightmare in the middle ages with certain people allowed to hunt certain animals. Also, forests were kept very neatly and were not as common as in europe today. You should describe your world a bit better. Which forests, what animals? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 25 '20 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ might be really useful for a bird hunter. $\endgroup$ – John Dec 25 '20 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, the hunter could hide in trees!!!!!!!!!! $\endgroup$ – Royal Facehugger Dec 25 '20 at 20:49
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In an environment of larger predators, climbing trees would allow a mid-level hunter to escape and survive. It could also allow the hunter to cary prey killed on the ground up into the canopy to be consumed without challenges from other hunters. If the climb is not only fast but also stealthy, then the hunter becomes a threat to other canopy dwellers.

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  • $\begingroup$ The op has not provided us with a lot of information, but the typical central or western european forest in the middle ages, that's geographically what most fantasy is modeled after, were hardly a dangerous terrain and more kept like a garden or farm. If it's your typical fantasy with romanticized forests and fantasy beasts, this may be an advantage, but I wonder if it would've really been significant. I think any human has it in their dna: dangerous animals, climb a tree if possible. The op surely knows that themselves. Could you elaborate more on how relevant that would actually be? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 25 '20 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @raditz I can’t really elaborate specifically because the OP gave us so few world details. I wrote generically and hypothetically to cover bases. $\endgroup$ – SRM Dec 25 '20 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ You could at least put it into some context. I'd expect some standards from such a high rep user. How is your answer truly useful in world building? If the op now has the hunter escape from all sorts of animals, unless it's a computer game, you've messed up the world because you fundamentally changed the relationship between man and nature by making the latter super dangerous. If the op had planned for a world where only few can enter the dangerous forests, great, that's my context, see how easy that is. But if the op doesn't bother either, you've got a pretty broken world $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 26 '20 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 You are welcome to downvote my answer and/or supply your own. This is the best answer I felt I could give for this question. $\endgroup$ – SRM Dec 26 '20 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Do you disagree with my comment? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 27 '20 at 8:27
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Humans can already climb trees, though not as squirrels.

The only advantage I can see in being good at it is to quickly reach higher ground when spotting a target.

However, for an ambush style hunter, climbing a tree won't be done in a rush, because it could alarm any nearby prey.

For a wandering/chasing hunter instead, I would consider more useful to approach the target at bow shot distance instead that climbing on a tree, considering that any signal sensed by it would simply make it fly away and that tree branches would hinder a clean shot.

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Very Useful

In a medieval European style forest, this would be super useful for hunting. Mainly because prey animals don't look up! There's nothing native to Europe that would attack, say, a full-grown deer or wild boar from above. That goes double for forested areas. (There may be a species or two of eagle that could snag a smallish deer/young boar from the air, but they'd need altitude for that and therefor attack in clearings or grassland, not woods. I know these exist in the world but am unsure if any euoropean eagles fit the bill.) So if you get 20ft+ up/down a tree with ease you can visually hide from most of the "big game." Against smaller things like rabbits this isn't really useful, but nobody gets famous from hunting rabbits! Plus that's an extra 20ft+ of being "away" from your target as far as scent goes. But as you said, that's the same sort of benefit you'd get if you got into a tree at all. So what does doing it well/quickly get you?

Even if he can't tarzan-jump from tree to tree with ease, getting DOWN from his tree safely at speed provides a huge advantage over a tree-stand hunter. A big problem with tree stand bow hunting is if you don't get a one-shot kill the prey takes off wounded, and then you have to laboriously climb down and try to follow it. (same for guns, you're just more likely to kill the thing in 1 shot with a gun.) Sometimes you never do catch it, maybe it died in a place you can't find, maybe it survived its wound (for a while anyway) and got away. But if you could go from 30ft up to ground level in a matter of seconds you could pursue on foot and have a higher chance of finishing it off/finding it when it finally collapses and dies.

If he CAN Tarzan about tree-to-tree with ease he becomes a REAL good bear hunter. Bears up to a certain size can climb trees (the American Black Bear is well known for it) but they can't jump between 'em. Stalk your bear, fire an arrow, and when it chases you flee up a tree. Bears go UP trees fast, but down trees slow. Your hunter would run up one tree, bear follows, he jumps to another tree, and finishes off his target. Much safer than trying to take out a bear on the ground!

There might also be a benefit (depending on his skill) for stalking prey. Again, most big animals (humans included) don't naturally look "up" when scanning for danger in a forest. They also expect a certain amount of noise from birds etc in the trees, so he needn't be silent. He just needs to get up a tree, not make a TON of noise, and move tree-to-tree stalking his prey. Deer doesn't look 30ft up (because it's never had a serious threat from above) so deer misses your hunter getting close. Then it's an easy bowshot/spear throw from above at the unsuspecting target.

As a side-note these skills would also translate into him being a crazy-good scout or ambusher as well. The big problem for shooting at people (who shoot back) from a tree is that once they know you're there you're basically dead, as you can't escape quickly. Your Great Hunter however WOULD be able to escape quickly, making him a real pain in the rear for an opposing force in the woods.

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