If you’re someone who is always chasing that next thrill or challenge, the idea of hunting your fellow man for sport may be an activity you’ve considered. For many of us, playing the most dangerous game is as inevitable as the survivors of a shipwreck or zombie apocalypse turning on each other in vicious plays of power. To the sportsman, nothing can compare with prey that has the ability to reason. Daredevils may be drawn to the heady promise of the adrenaline of the chase. Parents searching for a less problematic but still traditional alternative to debutante balls for their children’s coming out will love the ancient ritual of their child’s first human kill. Before you dive in, weapon of choice in hand, there are some things you should know before playing the most dangerous game.
1. Time for An Island Getaway
The first thing you’ll need to secure before following your dream of playing the most dangerous game is an isolated location to use as your hunting range. Depending on your taste, there are plenty of options available that suit most budgets and temperaments. Although an island is traditional, that doesn’t mean you can’t choose a patch of desert or the back acres of an old timber forest. In this modern era, even a gated suburb can be a great choice for the homebodies. By choosing to live apart from society you’ve made the first big step towards the intoxicating freedom of hunting your fellow man for sport.
This is the sort of thing that has to be done in a place hidden from the eyes of the law and god—not that there aren’t plenty of comfortable careers in the world that offer similar opportunities, but if you wanted to join law enforcement or tech you would. The mind of a hunter should have the space to roam beyond all societal constraints and, honestly, nothing allows you moral elbow room quite as much as the perfect isolation of an island. Some things are traditional for a reason.
2. If Shipwrecked Quarry Is Unavailable, Store-bought Is Fine
So, you have your hunting range set up, but how do you stock it with people to hunt? It really does come down to location, location, location. Whatever setting you choose will affect how your quarry arrives.
If you take the traditional island route then nature herself may deliver them to your shores. Most easy to procure islands have quirky reefs and bays that are hungry for ships but remember: strategic underwater landscaping can do a lot toward encouraging the natural malevolence of the sea. Different locations will have different hurdles to managing your supply of targets.
Of course, it feels terrible when you’ve done all the work of setting up your hunting grounds only to find there’s no natural source of people to hunt. But don’t feel discouraged. Sometimes all you need is an authentic-looking winning lottery ticket or an online dating profile. You may even find the process of bringing in your quarry a sort of appetiser to the hunt itself.
On the opposite side of the problem, there is also the possibility of overpopulation. It may be worth taking into account how often you wish to play the game and if you’ll need to set up holding cells or barracks to manage any seasonal abundance.
3. Let Your Quarry Come to You
It’s easy to get caught up in the chase, especially if your quarry survives past the first day. The person you’re hunting can start to feel like an item on your to-do list that needs to be checked off rather than what they truly are: self-care. You wouldn’t rush through your vacation just so you can say you’ve had one, you find a way to enjoy each moment of it, even if there are rainy days.
Beyond just relaxing and having a good time, letting your target tempt you into chasing them is handing over the reins. Even when you’re following their trail, remember that you are the hunter and not the hunted. Control of the game belongs to you.
4. The Worst Pitfall Isn’t A Literal One, It’s Your Pride
It’s easy to allow yourself to think of your target as stupid or less skilled than you—that’s why they’re the one being chased, right? Wrong! It’s true that if your quarry had any resources of note they’d be hunting alongside you rather than finding themselves in your iron sights, but that doesn’t mean you should get comfortable.
Don’t forget that the entire point of hunting man is that humans can reason, plot and plan. It can be easy to get cocky, especially if you’ve played the game several times before. It’s vital to remember that to be overconfident is to be underprepared. If you truly are a better example of humanity’s cunning, then prove that with elegant, thorough tracking. Turn your vanity into pride in work well done.
5. It May Be Your Game, But the Rules Are for Everybody
It can be tempting to let your excitement turn into impatience when you’re waiting out your quarry’s head start. You might think you don’t have to give them every single minute of it, because, “What’s five minutes off three hours?” But, like with any sloppiness, that sort of behaviour can snowball. When you cheat at the most dangerous game, you’re actually cheating yourself.
Following the rules as you’ve defined them extends to weapons limitations and setting captives free as well. It’s not very classy to say “only blades” and bring out a pistol on day two of the hunt, or to poison a survivor while they’re waiting for their boat. If those are things you want to do, that’s fine, but that means you should reconsider the rules of your game.
We’re living in a modern era and the rules for many things are being rewritten. Be truthful with yourself about what you want out of the game, then restructure the format to fit your needs, rather than trying to conform to how your parents did things.
You’ve probably noticed a common theme in all this advice, and that’s remembering to take care of yourself while you play the most dangerous game. The combination of the mental and physical toll this sport can take will wear you out if you don’t make sure to simultaneously practise self-care. You are spending the entire day tracking and trapping, so when you return to your base camp—whether that’s a manor house or a homey tent site—allow yourself to relax and recharge. It’s not like you’re not well-defended or that your staff aren’t trustworthy (and if they are not that’s an entirely different issue).
Eat a good meal that’s high in protein, stretch those muscles and, of course, drink water! If you meditate or practise mindfulness, allow yourself some time to find your centre. You’ll need to go over the day’s activities and plan for tomorrow, but it’s no good for anybody if you’re doing it while you’re hangry and stressed.
7. There’s No Escaping The Game
If you’ve grown up in a family that plays the most dangerous game, you may already be familiar with this concept. Even if you only play once a year or less, the game becomes a part of you. It’s not just the obvious things, like working to procure fresh targets, arranging travel to your location, or clearing any attempts at traps from previous participants. Months away from your next game, you’ll see a piece of clothing in a store and realise it’s just the thing to wear during the hunt. Weekends, you’ll find that yourself estate sale shopping with the table setting for your quarry’s last meal in mind.
Hunting man for sport changes how you look at the world. You already knew you were a superior mind but, after you’ve taken down your quarry with only hours to go before they’d be set free, it’s a confidence you feel deep in your bones. Your very DNA seems programmed for the hunt.
This does lead to one last, grim, thing to keep in mind. We’ve all heard of the hunter who was bested by their quarry. Of course, nobody knows them personally, it’s always someone’s wife’s brother’s friend. But that dark reminder still lingers in the back of anyone’s mind. What if the prey wins? There’s no easy platitude for this, but it can be reassuring to remember that, by killing you, your prey has elevated themselves to the status of a hunter and, by doing so, has played the game to the end.
There are reasons why it’s called the most dangerous game but, if you approach the sport fully prepared, you’ll find the real danger is having too much fun!
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