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Manly Men Can Hunt

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The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but cub, when thy whiskers are grown.
Remember the wolf is a hunter - go forth and get food of thine own

Men who have become white-collar workers and achieved success lose the ability to fix cars, hunt, fish, plumb, or perform carpentry. It's not so much focused on how a specific ability makes you manly, but about how the lack of it makes you wimpy and how being "civilized" makes you lose your manly edge. Should they attempt to do such things — usually in a vain attempt to defy this very trope — they will fail spectacularly. This concept probably dates back to hunter-gatherer days: the way to prove you were an adult was to demonstrate that you can feed yourself and your family, and in those days hunting was the primary way of acquiring food. Just because nowadays people can get by just fine with butcher's shops and supermarkets selling cuts of meat taken from domesticated livestock doesn't mean that the original notion has gone away.

The Spear Counterpart of Feminine Women Can Cook. Compare A Real Man Is a Killer. Hunting involves killing other animals but has a different connotation from killing other humans. See also Real Men Eat Meat, where manliness is equated with eating said animals, and Real Men Cook if the hunter can also make a great steak out of his quarry when he's done.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • Played for laughs in Code Geass. Lelouch may be a Magnificent Bastard Chessmaster who can single-handedly win a battle thanks to his strategy... but when stuck in the wilderness, he attempts to dig a deadfall in order to catch an animal...and exhausts himself before it's even two feet deep. He's forced him to eat the fruits his half-sister Euphemia found with an embarrassed expression on his face the whole time. This ties in with his being a Non-Action Guy. In contrast, his much more athletic friend-slash-rival Suzaku is shown fishing bare-handed and produces more than enough food for himself and Kallen.

    Comic book 
  • In The Walking Dead, the tougher men are more rural and know how to do things like hunt and track. More urban men like Glenn are wimpier.
  • In Cavewoman: Mutation, macho Jerkass Eddy declares, "A man ain't a man if he can't kill his own food!" Crosses cover with A Real Man Is a Killer.

    Film — Animated 
  • Gaston from Beauty and the Beast seems to think so and so does everyone in town. His sidekick sings that there's 'no one in town half as manly' while gesturing to a wall full of hunting trophies. And don't forget that Gaston feels 'I use antlers in all of my decorating' is something to brag about.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Brought to an infamous extreme in Deliverance, where only by going back to their "primal" selves were they able to last.
  • The men in Fight Club fight as a means of returning to their primal nature instead of living in an emasculating consumer culture.
  • Subverted in the 1964 film Mans Favorite Sport wherein Rock Hudson plays a fishing expert at Abercrombie and Fitch (this was back in the days when it was still just a world-famous outdoor sports emporium) who can't fish. Entered into a fishing tournament by a publicity agent who doesn't know his secret, Hudson is forced to hire an Indian guide to catch his fish for him. And, yes, fishing is not the same as hunting, but it is the principle that counts.
  • In Harry and the Hendersons, the father takes the son on a hunting trip as a rite of passage, but the boy is reluctant and doesn't want to kill anything, which upsets the father. By the end, the father has learned an anti-hunting lesson (namely, that hunting is bad because you might shoot Bigfoot).
  • In Beauty and the Beast, it's the Prince's proclivity for hunting that eventually gets him transformed into a Beast. He's obsessed with hunting a golden doe in the forest, but when he finally hits his mark the deer transforms back into his wife, who confesses her true nature as a mountain nymph. The God of the Forest is not happy about his daughter's death and puts the Prince under a Curse.
  • Gender-Inverted Trope in The Mother. The title character is a former Cold Sniper Professional Killer who lives in Alaska and supports herself through hunting. She's trying to teach her daughter Zoe, raised in a completely different environment, to survive. Zoe is shocked when her mother points out a stag and then, while Zoe is gushing over the sight, shoots it dead on the spot. That night Zoe refuses to eat.
    The Mother: Eat.
    Zoe: I can't.
    The Mother: Yes, you can.
    Zoe: [eyes filled with tears, she shakes her head] Not eating Bambi's mom.
    The Mother: That isn't venison. The deer has to hang for the meat to tenderize. Besides, that was a stag, so... it would be Bambi's dad.
    Zoe: What is this, then?
    The Mother: Rabbit. Thumper.
    Zoe: I'm not eating a rabbit either.
    The Mother: [sighs] Listen to me. That rabbit had a better life than any cheeseburger you ever ate.
    Zoe: It had a beautiful life until you shot him.
    The Mother: I trapped him.
    Zoe: Much better.
    The Mother: Let me tell you something, kid. There's nothing you ever ate your whole life that didn't come from violence.
    Zoe: Tofu.
    The Mother: Half of Paraguay was burned and deforested for soy plantations.
    Zoe: Cheese.
    The Mother: Those cows are impregnated just so they can be pulled on all day.
    Zoe: Gross.
    The Mother: Mmm.
    Zoe: Cashew cheese.
    The Mother: I knew a mercenary in the Ivory Coast. He said they fought a civil war over cashews.
  • In Pig Hunt, city boys Ben and Wayne are very enthusiastic about going on a hunting trip with country boy and ex-soldier John as it will allow them demonstrate that they are 'real men' who can hunt and kill their own food. Non-Action Guy Quincy, however, makes it very clear that he is just along for the ride, and thinks that the best part about hunting is going home.
  • The Standoff At Sparrow Creek: Two of the seven militiamen, Gannon and Hubbel, were coming back from successful deer hunts during the shooting.
  • Straw Dogs (1971): One of the ways the rural locals attempt to emasculate David is by inviting him hunting, something the urban intellectual has no experience in. Pressured into accepting to assert his manliness, David gets ditched by the locals, who instead sneak into his home while he's waiting for them in the woods.

  • Battlefront: Twilight Company: Ajax is a coarse and fierce sergeant who tells a story about a hunting trip he took once.
  • This trope is a central element of Ernest Hemingway's "Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," in which the wealthy title character takes his wife on a hunting trip and finds himself upstaged by the hunting guide, Robert Wilson. Macomber struggles to prove himself a competent hunter as his wife blatantly falls for the more confident and masculine Wilson: he eventually succeeds in shooting a buffalo, but shortly after he is shot by his own wife. Hemingway leaves it open whether this second shooting is accidental or intentional.
  • Robert A. Heinlein defied this trope in one novel by having a character note: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects". Note that this is Human Humans, not just Manly Men.
  • The Occupation Saga: Protagonist Jason hunted with rifles as a kid, which endears him to Yaro (a female Rakiri, the local Cat Folk species): what turns into their first date starts as him tagging along on one of her hunting trips. He wonders if she plans to hunt with only her claws and teeth until she gets a rail rifle out of the trunk of her car. She certainly could (and ends up in a fight with a local predator that picks up their trail), but Rakiri don't feel any shame in hunting with guns: she compares it to the notion of Jason chasing a prey animal to death (the fact that humans evolved as persistence hunters had previously been brought up a couple times in relation to humans' greater endurance than most aliens).
  • Subverted in Romance of the Three Kingdoms: When the emperor announces a royal hunt, Cao Pi has all of his quarries captured alive and is praised for his mercy.
  • Played straight by Rudyard Kipling in the Jungle Books, if you count anthropomorphic wolves as "men".
  • Donald Hamilton's character Matt Helm hunts in his off time. It's also what he does for a living since he's a government assassin. He's was an expert on all kinds of hunting.
  • The Gale-sympathetic portion of the The Hunger Games fandom often declares that Gale, as a hunter, is manlier than Peeta, a baker's son who mostly survives by employing defensive methods.
  • Robert Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire is a warrior king who is shown constantly whoring, drinking, and hunting. A combination of the last two are what get him killed; the first is what sets up much of the plot.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: it is mentioned that while Emperor Gregor doesn't actually enjoy hunting, he is expected to do so, as part of his Vorish duty. And so, like everything he considers a duty, he's quite good at it.
  • In Always Coming Home, for the Dayao, a man’s rite of passage involves killing a condor or at least a buzzard. Inverted with the Kesh: hunting is for young boys, not adults.

     Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural. Obviously Sam and Dean share a background, and they both "hunt" (demons) but manly Dean who accepts his blue-collar roots can not merely fix but rebuild cars, while Sam who went to college and wanted to be a lawyer (and whose masculinity Dean likes to make fun of) isn't allowed to drive anymore and does not know how to do anything similar.
  • Arthur from Merlin goes hunting all the time. Two episodes revolve entirely around his fondness for the sport. Interestingly, the show does not necessarily approve of his hobby, as many of his hunting expeditions end in disaster, and Merlin, the studious wizard, explicitly states that he does not like the sport. It's a Sensitive Guy and Manly Man contrast.
  • On That '70s Show Red takes Eric hunting, then berates him for half of the episode when Eric misses a shot at a buck at close range. Eventually Eric reveals that he's a great shot and missed because he didn't want to kill the buck; interestingly, Red says that he can respect that a lot more than Eric just being a lousy shot.
  • Game of Thrones: Like his Literature version, Robert Baratheon is an enthusiastic hunter. His wife Cersei claims this was his way of avoiding having to deal with his family.
    Cersei: Whenever I came close to bringing a baby into the world, Robert would run off into the woods to hunt. On his return, I would present him with a child. He would present me with the head of some dead beast.
    • House of the Dragon: A female version with Rhaenyra impressing the crowd of nobles that followed King Viserys at The Grand Hunt with the dead boar she killed (with some assistance from Criston Cole, who was filling his duty to protect her).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places", Quark is seeking advice on courting a Klingon woman he's sweet on. Worf is Playing Cyrano.
    Worf: Grilka is from the Mekro'vak region. It is customary among her people that the man bring a leg of a lingta to the first courtship dinner. Make sure it's fresh, as if you had just killed it. Then use the leg to sweep aside everything on the table and declare in a loud voice, "I have brought you this! From this day, I wish to provide food for you and your House! All I ask is to share your company and do honor to your name!"
    Quark: Then what?
    Dax: Well, either she accepts your offer or she has her bodyguard shatter every bone in your body.
  • Subverted in Hannibal. Profiler Will Graham lives alone with a pack of dogs in a rural area, where he fishes, crafts his own lures, and fixes boat motors. However, he lives in isolation mostly because he's so sensitive to other people's emotions that he finds too much human interaction overwhelming, and he's easily dominated by his urbane, culture-loving, Supreme Chef aesthete of a psychiatrist... Hannibal Lecter. Funnily enough, Hannibal is great at hunting too.
  • Schitt's Creek has flamboyant, pansexual dandy David Rose agreeing to go on a turkey shoot to prove his masculinity to his friend Stevie, with whom he has a Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy dynamic. He winds up shooting a turkey and tells everyone he feels like a Manson girl.

     Mythology and Religion 
  • In the Book of Genesis, this is the reason that Isaac favors Esau over Jacob. Esau was a great hunter, while Jacob preferred helping their mother Rebecca out in her tent (which is why she favored him over Esau). This causes problems later: Jacob knows that Esau is, well, more brawn than brains, and tricks him into trading his inheritance for a bowl of lentil soup. The deception works, because as Isaac had gone blind in his old age, Jacob and Rebecca worked together to make him think Jacob was Esau: they cover Jacob in goat skins (because Esau was hairy), and pass off the meat from said goat as game that Esau would routinely bring home. When Esau finds out about the deception he is pissed (understandably so), and Jacob has to flee to the other side of the Fertile Crescent to protect himself from a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. They make up later when both of them are wealthy sheikhs with multiple wives and children.
    • Earlier in the same book, after Sarah kicks out her adoptive son Ishmael and his birth mother Hagar (because she favored her biological son, Isaac) note , the two of them are Crossing the Desert and have run out of water. Ishmael is suffering from dehydration, and Hagar cries because she doesn't want to watch her son die. An angel leads them to a well, and tells them not to fear, that Ishmael will survive and grow up to be a great hunter, "a wild ass of a man." He becomes an important patriarch to Muslims, just as his half-brother Isaac is to Jews and Christians.


     Video Games 
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: Toyama is a hunter from Iwate prefecture. He's also a professional wrestler who participates in community activities, kicks alien and monster butt as well as the supers on the team, and maintains a happy relationship with his wife and daughter.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, animal hunting is one of the side-activities John Marston can take up, usually for animal parts that can be sold as well as some used for sidequests.
  • Averted in both Horizon games. Both men and women are portrayed as capable hunters and huntresses of machines in various tribes across the world, and discrimination is more along the lines of individual weakness or if you happen to be a Nora outcast. The Tenakth do ratchet this up for almost all their members, with Chief Hekarro having united the three clans around fighting the machines, meaning there are a lot more hunters per capita than say, the Utaru or Oseram.

     Web Original 
  • This is repeatedly brought up in The Alphabet of Manliness and The Retrosexual Revolution.
  • In the tie-in webcomics for Heroes, it is revealed that Arthur Petrelli took his sons Peter and Nathan on a hunting trip. Peter was too frightened to kill a deer so Nathan killed it for him.

     Western Animation 
  • Bart from The Simpsons is initially sent to a steel factory on account of Homer fearing he might become gay. It backfired, as the factory was full of Camp Gays, so Homer decides to go hunting with him.
    • In an early episode, Homer and Bart got lost in the woods. Homer set a trap to catch a rabbit. The trap threw it so far away Homer and Bart lost sight of it. Homer (at least initially) seemed to believe the rabbit would come back.
  • In Moral Orel, this trope is why Orel's father takes him hunting. Surprisingly, he does kill something, shooting a bear to protect his drunk father. He's so disillusioned by this point that he refuses to take credit for it when his father sobers up though.
  • A Looney Tunes short featured Sylvester and his son as house cats. When Junior told his Dad the other cats claim all that easy life spoiled what used to be the greatest mouser around. To show them wrong, Sylvester took his son to a place where he hoped to catch some mice. His failure cannot be solely blamed on the "giant mouse".
  • On King of the Hill, Hank, after forgetting to get permits to take his son hunting during the first season where he is old enough, believes he has accidentally denied Bobby a rite of passage he needs to successfully be a real man. So he scrambles to come up with another option, and Bobby reluctantly agrees to go through with it at a special hunting camp. But both of them decide that bagging a captive, farm-raised deer just for the sake of killing one isn't all that sporting and they decide not to go through with it. Then Hank decides that, got dangit, his son is going to get to have a rite of passage, and lets Bobby drive the truck home. The younger Hill is ecstatic and does a good job, up until he accidentally hits and kills a deer. They both feel a little bad, but decide to count it as a twofer on rites of passage.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man Kraven the Hunter, as Sergei Kravinoff he was a hunter who could take down wild animals with his bare hands, with nothing else left as a challenge to him he sets out to hunt down Spider-Man as the ultimate prey.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok and his brother Noatak/Amon are forced on "hunting" trips by their father, who forces them to learn the art of bloodbending and practice it on animals.
  • Woody Woodpecker: Some shorts feature Native Americans hunting Woody to prove their manliness. In "Heap Big Hepcat", the native in question is a TV star who probably can buy enough food for his family but his potential father-in-law doesn't care about that.

  • There's a joke out there which says that "vegetarian" is an old Indian word for "bad hunter".

Alternative Title(s): Real Men Can Hunt