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"Red Dead Redemption 2": Survivalist Challenges

I started writing about "Red Dead Redemption 2" when I noticed how little info was available online.

This would be considered "a good day" in fishing terms.

This would be considered "a good day" in fishing terms.

No, Not Like Those Weird Guys That Wear Camo

With the Survivalist Challenges you’re going to test yourself against the wilderness, but don’t stress, this won’t involve eating raw bison livers or sewing your rotting flesh together by a river’s edge. You just need to do basic survival-ish type things that you’re probably going to do anyway if you like living off the land, except for the whole Ruby Ridge thing . . . let’s not be THAT much of a survivalist ok? Like some other Challenges, this is another good way to make some side money early in the game.

How Fishing Works

At the beginning of Chapter 3, you will be free to start the fishing activity. To fish hold Left Bumper/L1 to open your Inventory, go the Items tab, and select your Fishing Rod while standing by the water. Hold Left Trigger/L2 to cast your line. Certain species of fish will nibble a few times before actually biting the hook. You'll feel it through your controller and the Right Trigger/R2 prompt will flash. Rotate the Right Stick to reel the fish in, but only when it's not fighting. If you try to reel in the fish, during the pulling segment you could lose your bait/lure.

Certain baits work better than others, and there are two types of Lure. The game will tell you which Bait is best for which fish but everything really seems to work depending on the location. Live baits such as Crickets and Worms will attract everything, while the free baits (Bread, Cheese, and Corn) is good for catching the smaller fish. To catch Medium and Large fish I recommend a Lure, and the Special Lures are required for catching Legendary Fish (but they also act like normal Lures if a Legendary Fish isn't in the area).

Free Pamphlets

There are a few of these Challenges that will require you to use a recipe Pamphlet to craft unique items. There are two ways to get these; bought from a Fence (after a certain point in the story) or found throughout the game world. For the sake of not grinding these Challenges (or any of them), I recommend you wait until the corresponding Pamphlet is unlocked through story progression. It will help make these tasks seem less daunting. However, if you do wish to rush I have provided locations for the necessary Pamphlets below.

Survivalist Challenge #1: Catch Three Bluegills

When You Can Do It: After “A Fisher of Men”/beginning of Chapter 3

During the above-mentioned mission (which by the way is littered with foreboding if you’ve played Red Dead Redemption 1) you catch a Bluegill, or two, but they won't register toward this Challenge. You can however begin this Challenge right after this mission, but you could wait until after the beginning of Chapter 3. You can do this Challenge near Flat Iron Lake’s shore, just south of the Clement's Cove gang camp.

Just south of where the gang sets up camp in Chapter 3. Here is a great place to fish for Bluegills.

Just south of where the gang sets up camp in Chapter 3. Here is a great place to fish for Bluegills.

Survivalist Challenge #2: Hand Five Animals in to Camp, or a Trapper

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #1, after you've drummed up the courage to take on that Legendary Bear from the Chapter 2 mission “Exit Pursued By A Bruised Ego”, skinning it seems to unlock the Trapper (at least it did for me).

The closest, and earliest, Trapper I have seen is located across the Dakota River by Riggs Station (see first screenshot below). He's east, just up the hill, from the station. The other more commonly spotted Trapper only seems to unlock after taking on the Legendary Grizzly Bear, from the mission "Exit Pursued By A Bruised Ego", and is just north-east from Emerald Station. He’s within a forested area which is teaming with animal life. It doesn’t matter what you bring him; Squirrels and Small Birds fit in Arthur’s Satchel, and your saddle can hold two Rabbits, Turkeys, Raccoons, and one deer or fox. If you do it near the Trapper you don’t have to ride far and he doesn’t care what quality they are in either. Taking them to Pearson earns you Honor and the Camp will get food supplies. If they’re in perfect quality certain pelts can unlock Camp upgrades and Upgraded Satchels.

This is the earliest Trapper, just across the train bridge from Flatneck Station.

This is the earliest Trapper, just across the train bridge from Flatneck Station.

Survivalist Challenge #3: Kill 5 Animals Using a Varmint Rifle

When You Can Do It: Immediately after Challenge #2, actually.

While you’re near the Trapper (the one in Roanoke Ridge that is) mount your horse, equip your Varmint Rifle and shoot Turkeys, Squirrels, Chipmunks, Rabbits, etc. They are all over the place in this forest. This Challenge doesn’t actually take that long, however, make sure to salvage the bodies for materials. Nothing worse than just shooting animals for the hell of it. If you can find a group of animals you can also complete Sharpshooter Challenge #5 easily with this weapon.

The other most visited Trapper location, in Roanoke Ridge north-east of Emerald Ranch, has a lot of little critters running about.

The other most visited Trapper location, in Roanoke Ridge north-east of Emerald Ranch, has a lot of little critters running about.

Survivalist Challenge #4: Craft a Dynamite, Fire, Improved, Poison, and Small Game Arrow

When You Can Do It: After the Chapter 3 mission “A Short Walk In A Pretty Town” and after you get the Dynamite and Poison Arrow Pamphlets

This Challenge can be started at any time after Challenge #3, since you can find the Dynamite Arrow Pamphlet near a destroyed cabin up by the Wapiti Indian Reservation, but for pacing’s sake wait until after the above mentioned mission. Where you can easily buy the pamphlet from any Fence. Hold Right on the D-pad to open your Satchel, and press A/X to read the Pamphlet which will make the recipe available while crafting. The other Arrow recipes are made available at this point in the game as well, so make sure to also purchase the Poison Arrow Pamphlet if you haven't yet unlocked it already (by doing one of Charles' hunting side quests in Chapter 2).

Each Arrow’s crafting requires a Flight Feather that can be plucked from pretty much every bird (well at least the ones that can fly). So have at least five of those; however other Arrows require an extra ingredient for obvious reasons.

Dynamite Arrows require a stick of Dynamite to craft, you can buy Dynamite at the Fence or loot it from dead enemies.

Fire Arrows require Animal Fat which can be harvested from Wild Boars (if you’re currently in the Leymone area doing this Challenge), but you can also get this from Ducks and Geese. Which is actually useful since you need Flight Feathers too . . .

Poison Arrows require Oleander Sage which can be found growing around the swamps of Leymone. In fact all poison weapons require Oleander Sage, so pick a few while you’re at it.

Survivalist Challenge #5: Catch a Fish While Boating in the Bayou and While Standing on Railroad Tracks

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #4 (actually wait until Chapter 4 if you don’t want to break the momentum of the story)

Go to the location in the screenshot below to find a canoe and a boat at a broken dock. You don’t have to catch the biggest fish just any sawmp fish will do. So use Corn Bait to catch a Bullhead Catfish or Chain Pickerel. Next go back to shore and ride up to the nearby train bridge. Preferably when there’s no train coming . . . Dismount, quickly equip the rod, and use Bread or Corn Bait to quickly catch another fish. Catching this fish will complete the Challenge.

If you purchased a boat for your Camp (through the Ledger) you could use THAT boat too, though it's best if you wait until Chapter 4. Shady Belle is located within a bayou, and if you don't mind the serenity of rowing, you can sail out to the Kamasa River to use one of it's two train bridges. The train bridge in the first screenshot is too high above the water to allow fishing, though you can find a couple of boats here to help complete the first part of this Challenge.

Survivalist Challenge #6: Kill an Animal Scavenging a Corpse 5 Times

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #5

Attach a medium scope to your Bolt Action Rifle, it will be very useful for this Challenge. A great place to do this is at Dewberry Creek. You’ll see plenty of Deer rummaging about for food. Shoot one of them and then head up to a nearby slope to get a better view of the area. This next part is going to take a few minutes, but over time Crows, Ravens, Vultures, Foxes, etc. will sniff their way over to the dead Deer. As they creep over, or while they are right on top of it (literally), use Dead Eye to shoot one of them. If you're trying to do Weapon Expert Challenge #3 you could use Tomahawks on Ravens to kill two Challenges at once, but not literally two birds with one stone.

This is where it gets a little tricky and by that I mean “glitchy.” If you shoot three birds it MIGHT count as three kills, other times will only count as one. Essentially you’re suppose to shoot five scavenging animals in five SEPARATE instances. You’ll have to wait a little bit between chances to shoot, unless you head up the creek a bit and shoot another deer. Doing so will speed this Challenge up. Also going back to your first kill, down river, helps too. Just be patient! If you wait long enough you can get this done in just one area.

Survivalist Challenge #7: Kill 8 Small Game With Consecutive Shots, Using Small Game Arrows

When You Can Do It: Challenge #6

First you’re going to need eight Small Game Arrows; meaning you’ll need Flight Feathers, but also Shotgun Shells. Please don’t ask me how the hell that is suppose to work, but that’s what you’ll need. A very good location for this is the cave near Elysian Pond, the same one you enter, behind the waterfall, during the last part of the Poisonous Trail Treasure Hunt. However instead of dropping down to the right keep following the tunnel until you come to a large cave (see first screenshot). Encase you’re wondering what this is for, it’s part of Stranger Quest in Chapter 6, but for now you’re gonna want to focus on the bats flying around. There will also be Mangy Rats depending on the time of day, but they also work for this Challenge. Rest assured there are no cats to eat these rats in the cave the developers built . . .

There’s no Bats flying around you say? Go outside, set up camp, and sleep until Morning. Also God forbid you mess up the next part; Save your game before attempting this. You can do this manually by pausing the game, going to Story, and selecting Save Game. If you mess up select Load Game, no pressure.

Once you enter the cave, at the right time you will see at least eight Bats flying around. There may be more, I’m honestly not sure if the number changes but whenever I’ve flubbed up this Challenge there was never an extra Bat or two to make up for the mishap. And believe me if you miss ONE shot you’ll need to start over. Using Small Game Arrows and Dead Eye is key, also make sure you hold down Right Trigger/R2 to maximize the damage. The Bats are small and the Arrow type is designed for this variety of game.

Survivalist Challenge #8: Craft Homing Tomahawk, Improved Tomahawk, Volatile Dynamite, and Volatile Fire Bottle

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #7

Go to the Fence and buy the pamphlets for the above listed items. If you’re in Chapter 4 they will all be available by now. Make sure you actually read them after you buy them; this isn’t a half-assed Bethesda game. Hold Right on the D-pad, to open your Satchel, then select the Documents tab using Left Bumper/L1, and press A/X to read the selected Pamphlet.

Homing Tomahawks require an Owl Feather (once again do not ask me how). I can tell you that you can find an Owl, easily, during the Night, perched on the welcome sign to Strawberry (see first screenshot).

Improved Tomahawks require a Hawk Feather. You can find Hawks in places where there’s a bird of prey (see third and fourth screenshots). Perched on bridges, and on the cliffs around West Elizabeth you’ll see Hawks.They can also be found flying around the plains of The Heartlands in New Hanover.

Volatile Dynamite requires a stick of Dynamite (durr) a High Velocity bullet and Animal Fat. Any High Velocity round will do, doesn’t matter the gun, which you can buy from Gunshops and certain General Stores. Dynamite is sold at any Fence. You can get Animal Fat from water fowl (Ducks and Geese) and Wild Boars.

The Volatile Fire Bottle requires Moonshine, which you can buy from any Fence, and Animal Fat.

Survivalist Challenge #9: Catch a Fish That Weighs at Least 19 lbs

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #8

The fishing in this game is pretty relaxing. It’s kind of like Far Cry 5’s without the threat of religious zealots and Ubisoft’s one-button-win mentality. More importantly it pays off in a satisfactory manner; firstly when you can say that you’ve collected every Legendary Fish, but secondly, in the literal sense, when you have mailed them all and got paid an exuberant amount of money (by 19th Century standards).

As satisfying as it would be to go after every Legendary Fish, as soon as you can, I recommend you hold off until you do this Challenge. A lot of the Legendary Fish way over 19 pounds making this a breeze (they also count toward Challenge #10, which I'll get to in a minute). However if you're competitionist ways have already foiled that plan you can fish for a Northern Pike up by Brandywine Drop, a Channel Catfish around Lagras, and/or a Muskie up at Lake Isabella, all of which can weigh over 19 pounds. Just make sure you bring a River/Swamp/Lake Lure (respectively) to aid you in catching them.

Survivalist Challenge #10: Catch One of Each Type of Fish Throughout the World

When You Can Do It: After Challenge #9 (or after Chapter 6, depending)

This is the big one! No I mean the Challenge . . . You need to collect all 15 species of fish throughout the game map. This is similar to the Herbalist Challenge in which you need to collect one of every herb. Except in this case you can catch every species of fish without unlocking New Austin. Unless of course you decide to complete this Challenge by going after every Legendary Fish. Even THEN it's not complete since they only cover 13 species.

Below are all 15 species and where you can find them, as well as what Bait you can use to catch them. Note: The following are just some examples of the places you can find the following fish, these locations also don't count New Austin and southern West Elizabeth since the intention is to do this Challenge as Arthur Morgan:

  • Bluegill: Can be found at Cattail Pond, Owanjila, Dakota River, Moonstone Pond, and Lannahegee River. Cheese, Bread, Corn, and Live Worms can be used to catch them.
  • Bullhead Catfish: Can be found at Lagras and Lannahegee River. Corn and Bread Baits can be used to catch them.
  • Chain Pickerel: Can be found at Cattail Pond, Dakota River, Lagras, Lannahegee River, and Flat Iron Lake. Corn, Cheese, and Live Crickets can be used to catch them.
  • Channel Catfish: Can be found at the Lannahegee River, but north of Saint Denis. River and Swamp Lures can be used to catch them, depending on the environment.
  • Lake Sturgeon: Can be found at Lagras. Crayfish and Swamp Lures can be used to catch them.
  • Largemouth Bass: Can be found around Flat Iron Lake, and come out more frequently when it's raining. Crayfish and Live Crickets can be used to catch them, as well as Lake Lures.
  • Long Nosed Gar: Can be found at Lagras. Crayfish and Swamp Lures can be used to catch them.
  • Muskie: Can be found at Lake Isabella, Owanjila,and O'Creagh's Run. Lake Lures can be used to catch them.
  • Northern Pike: Can be found at Cattail Pond. Lake Lures and Worm Bait can be used to catch one.
  • Perch: Can be found at Lake Isabella, Owanjila, northern parts of the Dakota River, Moonstone Pond, and O'Creagh's Run. Bread, Cheese, and Corn can be used to catch them.
  • Redfin Pickerel: Can be found along the Dakota River. Cheese Bait can be used to catch them.
  • Rock Bass: Can be found at Lake Isabella, Cattail Pond, Owanjila, Dakota River, and Flat Iron Lake. Cheese, Corn, and Live Worms can be used to catch them.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Can be found in Flat Iron Lake, and the southern parts of the Dakota River. Live Crickets can be used to catch them.
  • Sockeye Salmon: Can be found along the Dakota River and at O'Creagh's Run. River Lures and Live Worms can be used to catch them.
  • Steelhead Trout: Can be found along the southern parts of the Dakota River. Bread and Corn Bait can be used to catch them.

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© 2019 Eric Seidel