1. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Questions about dragons hunting deer and similar prey

    Discussion in 'Research' started by rktho, May 27, 2017.

    So in my second chapter, my protagonists are first introduced and they are out hunting. I have a few questions:

    A dragon about twice the size of a human, not accounting for the wings and tail, is flying above the deer at about the height of 10,000 feet or so, circling the deer. Is the deer likely to spot it, and how, and would the dragon cast a shadow?
    Would the deer have time to run away and how far? Obviously, the dragon's going to catch up really fast, but how far would it be able to get before the dragon reached it? I'm assuming here that the dragon is capable of diving at about the speed of a swooping bald eagle if not faster.
    Accounting for the dragons' firebreathing, would a deer be able to buy a significant amount of time by fleeing into a thick forest where the dragons are too large to fit without clearing some trees, and if the forest is fairly green, how difficult would it be to clear x square feet of it by burning it?

    Some context of the scene: Ginzaekh, the central character, is hunting with his friends Zash and Gazi, and gets separated from them in the pursuit of their prey. A bright flash from near the river renders Ginzaekh temporarily blind but he recovers the minute his friends find him again (The affliction is brief enough for Ginzaekh to write it off as nothing serious and attribute it to the sun or something.) Later, the light returns, and they find that the sun is reflecting strangely off a crystal embedded in the riverbank. That crystal gets the ball rolling like the Death Star plans, Saphira's egg or the One Ring.
     
  2. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    I think it depends on how long the dragons have been living in that area.
    Animals that are hunted from above develop a special instinct to flee from shadows from above. Gerbils and bunnies for example.

    Are these deer hunted by dragons regularly? Then they have learned it by now to keep an eye and ear to the sky.

    Look up how fast deer can run and how fast an eagle can swoop down to answer your question. It'll be a nice maths excercise. ;)

    Are dragons really burning down forests for a snack? If they did that regularly, the forests would not be in a good condition by now. I'd advise the dragons to form a group and circle a herd of deer on a clearing / out in the grassland.
    So rather like wolf or orca groups hunt, just from the air.
     
  3. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    Most likely not, deer tend to not look up. At least in our world. In a world where depredation by large flying creatures can occur, it may be a survival mechanism they've developed. But humans have been using deer stands for a while now, and they still don't look up, so it would be an issue of time scale and distribution of dragons.

    Yes, but your dragon is undoubtedly smart enough to know not to put itself between the sun and any potential prey, unless it was very high and was going to dive in. If it were high enough there would be no shadow to give it away.

    Depends on the deer. With the dragon attacking from above, the deer would most likely not be aware it was in trouble until the dragon stooped, and it would be the noise of the dragon plummeting towards the deer that would spook it. But by then you have a dragon swooping in at over 100 mph, so good luck, lil' deer.

    Bald eagles can reach 100 mph when stooping. Golden eagles can stoop at about 150 mph. Peregrine falcons can reach 200 mph. Just keep in mind that stooping is about aerodynamics (reducing wind resistance) and how effectively the creature can use its wings to aid its dive.

    Also, if your dragons have magically-assisted flight, you can have them dive even faster.

    Deer will always try to escape into relatively thick woods. "Good escape cover for deer is usually so thick that humans don't like to walk (or crawl) through the area." - growingdeer.tv
    Especially if they have evolved to deal with flying threats, as well. Of course, that depends on how often dragons attack deer.

    Depends on the heat of your dragonfire. So steel melts at around 1370 Celsius, while your typical forest fire burns at a meager 800 Celsius. Also, keep in mind that your dragon, being smart AF, isn't going to burn the forest down for a deer. He'll probably blast some fire in the path the deer is running to steer the deer (that was intentional) back to clear space so he can grab it. Just use bursts, because the deer will ABSOLUTELY turn to avoid a jet of flame.
     
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  4. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I imagine it would hunt like any other flying apex predator. Research how eagles hunt foxes and goats.
     
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  5. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Exactly what I was thinking. I wasn't sure, but I didn't think fire would be a great advantage in this situation. It's one of the reasons I originally didn't have it.

    Although, this isn't just a snack. One deer provides a full meal for about three Khrizans. Ginzaekh is bagging game for business; his mother runs a butcher shop and dragons don't do a lot of farming, so they hunt instead. He, Gazi and Zash deliver meat to clients to earn money, and Ginzaekh helps around the shop when he's not hunting. Ginzaekh has to meet a quota of available meat in the shop, plus for the dragons who have ordered it delivered. It's a humble job, but he enjoys hunting with his friends.
     
  6. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Excellent!
     
  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My main concern, were I said dragon, would be my wings, damaging them. If my flame is hot enough to burn a copse or woods quickly enough that it no longer serves as an obstacle, then I've probably reduced the deer hiding therein to carbon and soot. I would try really hard to run that deer away from such a hiding place. I would probably do this as a team or in a group.
     
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  8. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Good point about the hiding place, and as mentioned before, burning down the forest would not be helpful in that situation. As for the team, there are three dragons working with each other.
     
  9. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    ^ ^ Hehe, yes, that was hyperbole. But I guess you know what I meant as you had the same idea.
    I think Myrrdoch and Wreybies have it: The dragons' tactic would be to steer the deer away from any forest and probably let it go if it was able to reach said forest.
    Look up group hunting techniques of humans and other predators and adapt them to flight. They can probably get an entire herd for their fridge. ^ ^
     
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  10. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Birds that fly high and dive-bomb their prey tend to either a) do it in the water, or b) be really really small so as to stop themselves from hitting the ground.

    Dragons your size would properly rather hunt mostly-horizontally rather than vertically. Think "cheetah" as your metaphor of choice rather than "peregrine falcon." In the air, but moving as though they weren't.
     
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  12. Casca

    Casca New Member

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    A really cool pseudo-documentary is Dragons World: A Fantasy Made Real. It goes by a couple of different titles depending on your region but a quick Google search should make it easy enough to find. If you find the U.S. version, I believe Patrick Stewart does the narration. The U.K. version also has a famous narrator but I am less familiar with him and I can't recall his name.

    Anyways, maybe this will help you some. It offers a realistic approach to dragons and hypothesizes to their evolution under the assumption that they were once real creatures. Even if it doesn't help you with your specific question, I consider a must-watch for all dragon-lovers (myself included).
     
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