5 Classic Hunting Scenes in Films that You May Have Missed

   11.17.14

Hunters rarely get a positive portrayal in Hollywood films. Movies love to paint hunters as trigger-happy, gun-toting bumpkins who just want to shoot something. Of course, not all films fall into this trap and with recent movies like The Hunger Games, it seems that interest is stirring within the Hollywood machine for a more accurate portrayal of what hunting is. That said, there have been a number of memorable hunting-related scenes in movies throughout the years that have caught our eye. Many veer from the fantastical (dinosaurs from Jurassic Park: The Lost World) to the solemn (the opening scene for No Country for Old Men), to even the apocalyptic future (the deer hunt from I Am Legend). Here are five classic hunting scenes from movies that you may have missed—and owe yourself to see.

The clips below include some profanity and offensive language.

1. The Ghost and the Darkness

This 1996 historical fiction followed the account of a military engineer working on the Uganda-Mombasa Railway in Tsavo, Kenya. The film is based off of real-life events in 1898, when two lions preyed on railroad workers and may have killed up to 135 people over a span of several months. Although experts now debate whether the two lions actually did drag that many people into the bush, it certainly established an environment of fear for railroad employees. In the scene above, John Henry Patterson (played by Van Kilmer) undertakes a risky night hunt which becomes all the more problematic after he falls from his stand.

2. Jeremiah Johnson

This classic 1972 film is especially notable for getting a generation of viewers interested in becoming “mountain men.” The movie focuses on its namesake, Jeremiah Johnson, a veteran of the Mexican War who seeks a life of solitude in mountain country. Unaccustomed to living in the wilderness, Johnson eventually learns the art of survival from another hermit, “Bear Claw” Chris Lapp. In the humorous scene shown above, Johnson (Robert Redford) encounters Lapp for the first time during a grizzly hunt and convinces the older man to mentor him.

3. Dances with Wolves

For a time, Kevin Costner was one of the most talked-about stars in Hollywood, and it’s not hard to see why with this epic western. This 1990 film about a Union Army officer in the American frontier won seven Academy awards and earned a spot in the US National Film Registry. Costner plays First Lieutenant John Dunbar as he heads west to take up his new post, but finds that the frontier is a dangerous and complicated place. This buffalo hunting scene is undoubtedly the most spectacular part of the film and also marks the point at which Dunbar is finally accepted by the Sioux tribe that he had befriended.

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4. Escanaba in da Moonlight

This 2001 film by Jeff Daniels is a affectionate comedy about hunting and hunting traditions. Following the story of Reuben Soady, an unsuccessful hunter, the film pokes fun at deer camp norms and superstitions. This is a movie you either love or hate, but many hunters will tell you that they consider it a tradition to watch it before the season opener. In this scene Soady (Jeff Daniels) explains that a spritual remedy made by his Native American wife will help the hunting party’s chances for the season. He also lists off the potion’s ingredients.

5. The Deer Hunter

You knew this one would be on the list. Michael Cimino’s 1978 film won five Academy awards and a place on many top 100 films of all time lists. It also is probably the best-known hunting film ever produced by Hollywood, even if its focus was really the Vietnam War. The movie follows a group of young men in the small industrial town of Clairton, but jumps abruptly to Vietnam where the same men find themselves prisoners of the North Vietnamese Army. The movie is symbolic, violent, and explores the insanity of war.

In this clip, Mike Cronsky (Robert De Niro) harvests a deer just before the start of the film’s dramatic second act. Hunters have long since pointed out the many inaccuracies in this scene, but all said and done, it remains a powerful part of cinema history.

What’s your favorite Hollywood hunting scene? Share it with us in the comments section below.

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