1. Javelineer

    Javelineer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2020
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    23

    Portraying ignorance intelligently. (post-apoc, big-game hunting, moose)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Javelineer, Dec 22, 2020.

    Excerpt from a thing I'm working on. It's a post-apocalyptic setting, with a skilled and resourceful yet somewhat unexperienced protagonist feeding himself somewhere in the North American boreal forest.

    Our protagonist has made a small boo-boo here. Conventional wisdom says that, when a big-game animal has been shot and manages to flee from visual range, to wait for at least 30 minutes before attempting to track it by the blood-tail. The reason why is because a bleeding animal will usually lie down and succumb to its injuries when not being pursued, but one who knows a predator is following it will work up its adrenaline and try to run as far away as possible. This reduces the quality of the meat, leads to more suffering on its part, and leads to a longer search and recovery on your part. In cases of gut-shot animals, it's often advised to wait for several hours before attempting to track the animal.

    https://www.hunter-ed.com/national/studyGuide/Trailing-Wounded-Game/201099_92937/
    https://www.nrafamily.org/articles/2020/11/19/6-mistakes-hunters-make-when-tracking-wounded-game

    However, there are dissenting points of view. There are cases, such as an obvious centre-mass shot with significant blood-loss, where the animal is very unlikely to travel far and there's arguably little point in waiting. Then there's other considerations (worsening weather, gathering darkness, et al.) that may cause you to want to start tracking as soon as possible. It's a complex judgement call to make.

    https://www.nrahlf.org/articles/2019/11/17/when-to-follow-a-wounded-game-animal/
    https://www.outdoorlife.com/rapid-recovery-bloodtrailing-deer-right-after-hit-instead-waiting-30-minutes/

    [​IMG]

    Daniel doesn't know any of that. He hunts moose, he shoots moose, he sees moose bleed, he follows. Fine, but how do I make it clear to the audience that *I* know about it?

    I could just straight up say so, but I think it would interrupt the flow of the story, and it smacks of "telling" rather than "showing." I could maybe have it brought up later in the story, in conversation perhaps, but the only people he gets a chance to talk to in this part all have even less backwoods experience than he does. Maybe this is just some tidbit that they've heard somewhere?

    And do realize, I'm not interested in showing this just because I'm pretentious--though it is mostly because I'm pretentious. I like my writing to be informative whenever possible, and giving my potential readers some good and not bad information on humane hunted methods does seem pretty important. I just need to balance that with my character's shortcomings.



    And incidentally, if I made any *unintentional* boo-boos up there, let me know. I've never actually hunted moose before, I'm not overly familiar with the biome being described, and I've also never hunted with a muzzleloader.
     
    Seven Crowns likes this.
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,949
    Likes Received:
    4,316
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Is the narrator omniscient or limited? If omniscient he can simply say it. But it's pretty complicated technical stuff, seems like it could bog the story down unless done very carefully. Also I was throw by 'wounding-loss'. Had to re-read it and realized it's technicalese for a shot animal that wanders off and you can't find it.

    You could have another character involved who tells him this stuff, maybe later when he tells people about it. An old hunter laughs at him or something and explains his stupidity.
     
    TheEndOfMrsY likes this.
  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    3,221
    Likes Received:
    3,699
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    Why does the reader need to know you know?
     
    Xoic and montecarlo like this.
  4. Javelineer

    Javelineer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2020
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    23
     
  5. TheEndOfMrsY

    TheEndOfMrsY Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    120
    Who is your target audience?
    I get that you want your story to be accurate but your readers want a story, to put it bluntly.
    There's a line you need to find of creating a story whilst using factual aspects to enhance it.
     
    Naomasa298 and Xoic like this.
  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,949
    Likes Received:
    4,316
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Yep. What she said ^

    Are you writing a hunting manual or an entertaining story? You can do both, but unless you do it really well it will detract from the appeal for general readers.
     
    TheEndOfMrsY likes this.
  7. Javelineer

    Javelineer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2020
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    23
    That's one possibility. I think I could give him a chance to have such a conversation.

    Thank you for pointing that out about wounding-losses! :D Most hunters, or at least most who hunt primarily for food, put a great deal of thought into making sure the game they shoot dies reliably, quickly, and relatively-painlessly. I would have never even considered that the concept is much less known among the general population.
     
    Xoic likes this.
  8. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,949
    Likes Received:
    4,316
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    See, now that's fine! If you explain it in terms like that everybody will understand. it was just the technical jargon that threw me.
     
  9. montecarlo

    montecarlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2020
    Messages:
    244
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    America's Heartland
    but here’s the thing. Your protagonist isn’t an experienced hunter. He’s a survivor trying to get his next meal. Your job as a writer is to show the truth, no matter how ugly. The truth is what happened, and how did the character react, intellectually, emotionally, primally.

    Readers don’t want an author moralizing about the ethical slaughter of animals, or anything else for that matter.

    Fortunately, I do think you have some options to make your point without being ham handed. But first you need to recognize the only place it belongs is in the mind, heart, and gut of the character.

    #1 you are too nice when the protagonist makes a mistake. You described for us the consequences of his mistake, but he gets a pass. Instead of him finding the moose dead, he spooks the moose, and has to spend 4 hours tracking the damn thing to get his meal. That will give him time to reflect on his screw up

    #2 the moose dies a horrible, long death. You’re too nice about the moose dying a quick death. If you want the reader to think about ethical slaughter, hit ‘em in the gut with a kill gone wrong. This is a great way to provide insight to the protagonist by showing his reaction. Gutted? Stoic? Unaffected?
     
    Lifeline, Naomasa298 and Xoic like this.
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    18,188
    Likes Received:
    21,170
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    I'm feeling persecuted about now :D

    Joking aside... three things stand out to me,

    one Moose are dangerous, if you hit one at 150yrds and don't kill it with one shot there's about a 50% chance of it charging you... and you won't get time to do anything other than die stupidly

    two, how does an inexperienced hunter manage to stalk to within 150 yrds of a moose anyway... especially with a donkey in tow

    and three... if hes got a a diamaco/ M16 why the hell is he using a black powder muzzle loader... a head shot with a soft nose 5.56 will kill a deer just fine... it might not be the best hunting gun, but its a damn sight more use than a hand built muzzle loader, not least because if (one) occurs with a semi auto you might have a chance of getting a second shot... especially as the morning is misty and its therefore wet, a time totally unsuited to using an open pan muzzle loader since damp powder will invariably miss fire.

    Also if there are security vans around from which it is possible to steal semi or fully automatic weapons, how boreal can the forest really be
     
    Malum, Lifeline and Xoic like this.
  11. Javelineer

    Javelineer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2020
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    23
    It's a little complex, but I do have good narrative reasons for why this particular kill goes cleanly. This is still a very early draft in the story.

    I'm planning to have another one that doesn't go as well, where he wounds the animal, chases it all day, and then loses it to something bigger than him. That seems like a good way to have my cake and eat it too, so to speak.



    Point. I've actually never shot anything bigger than mule deer, and didn't quite consider that.

    (Deer will sometimes do that too, of course. Got a coworker who has the scars to prove it.)

    Because it's somewhat hard to get a kill at longer distances in the kind of environment he's hunting, and because he's not entirely unfamiliar with big-game hunting, just lacking in real-world practice. He actually is fairly skilled at camping, hiking, basic bushcraft and (at this point in his life) concealing himself from dangerous things that want to kill him. Think maybe a few steps lower than Les Stroud in some of the early Survivorman seasons.

    I've gone hunting with pack-animals before. Wildlife seem to ignore them.

    I dunno, man. I'll admit that I've only shot phone books and wooden blocks with them, but .50 black powder seems to put a pretty massive hole in things. Have to ask my FIL, who does hunt with a muzzleloader that he made from scratch in his basement.

    I like to think that I don't have the neurotic 5.56-hate that a lot of M14/FN-FAL aficionados have, but as a hunting round I've never been particularly impressed with it for anything bigger than whitetail.

    ...and pigs, it's a good pig-killing round.

    Good catch on wet powder. That's a definite "derp" on my part.

    Halifax. :p

    No seriously, Maine and the Maritimes are like that. It's like you can literally cross the street of a busy, thriving metropolis and instantly find yourself in a tractless wilderness. It's no wonder Steven King likes to set all his stories there.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2020
  12. Javelineer

    Javelineer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2020
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    23
    Speaking of...

     
  13. Javelineer

    Javelineer Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2020
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    23
    Father-in-law says a muzzleloader should be fine for moose-hunting. He's hunted elk with his, and any hit to the vitals is most likely going to prove fatal long before it gets within goring distance of you.

    He did advise that the backup weapon should be carried on your person and not on your saddle. I think I will alter that part.

    (Incidentally, there's another good reason to use your flintlock as the primary and save the C7 for emergencies: easier to resupply ammunition for the flintlock.)

    As for humidity? Nah! Maybe you might want to replace your powder every few hours if you're hunting gators in the bayous of Louisiana or something along those lines, but a few hours of morning mist isn't going to be absorbed fast enough to ruin it. In rainy conditions, you generally carry a wooden plug for the muzzle of your weapon (remove before firing! or use a rubber balloon) and a flap of leather to cover the lock and trigger mechanism.



    Here's a pretty good interview with a maker of 18th/19th-century era flintlock firearms. Apparently, he uses a .58 ball for moose.

    There's a blacksmith in Arkansas, Daniel Casey, who used to have a series on the History Channel. I'll have to try and find some more of his videos, but the stuff he does is pretty impressive as well.



    http://www.caseyarms.com/
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2020
  14. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2019
    Messages:
    3,221
    Likes Received:
    3,699
    Location:
    The White Rose county, UK
    Agreed.

    Ultimately, what is it? A story, or an ego piece? Will your readers be entertained by the stuff about how to kill a wounded moose properly? If so, then it has to built in as part of the story, not the author moralising at the reader, either through another character explaining it to the MC, or through self-discovery by the MC.

    Frederick Forsythe told us all how to get a fake identity in "Day of the Jackal" by using the birth certificate of a dead baby, but the character knew what he was doing. It wasn't a "how to be a spy" manual.
     
    TheEndOfMrsY likes this.
  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,949
    Likes Received:
    4,316
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    I can see you're fascinated by this technical stuff, and honestly it's kind of cool to read about. I mean, I loved Moby Dick, and more than half of that massive tome was Melville going on and on ad infinitum about the technical craft of whaling and all kinds of details. Of course, he was f'in' Melville, and you're probably not. :cool:

    But maybe you need to write this for yourself, and to hell with hitting the bestseller lists? Your choice man.
     
  16. montecarlo

    montecarlo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2020
    Messages:
    244
    Likes Received:
    262
    Location:
    America's Heartland
    @Javelineer
    I think your passion for the subjects and the technical depth you dive into personally are great strengths and will undoubtedly aid in producing a great story. I think you've heard different voices coming from different angles.

    My advice is to shut us all out for now, and let your passion pour on the page. Then you can go back and see what works and what doesn't. Hell, Tom Clancy was a show-off technically and he sold millions of books.

    If you try to nail this part down perfectly before you've completed the story, you risk being paralyzed by all the options and pitfalls in front of you. Don't let the criticism from me or others hinder you in your goal. Don't let self-doubt creep in.

    I think your passion is excellent and will serve you well. Good luck!
     
    Xoic and MartinM like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice