A Look Back at Deer Hunter (1997)

As the title implies Deer Hunter is a deer hunting game, and one of the first of its kind in 1997.  During this time, an entire slew of fishing games were becoming popular and because of their success, it was easy to see the introduction of hunting games in the video game market.

WizardWorks Software published the original title on the Windows platform and subsequently became available for the Mac, Game Boy Color, PlayStation 2, and Mobile phone, in later years. Since its inception, a countless number of hunting games were made and a whole new video game audience was captivated.

Gameplay and Features

Although the games interface and graphics are extremely simple, even for the time, they were colorful and fairly straight forward. The player is given a choice of three different weapon types: a bow, rifle, or shotgun. Each weapon has a different feel and can be tested at the firing range.

Once the weapon is selected, the player is given a choice of three different location options each with its own season. A wintery Indiana, an autumnal Arkansas, and lush spring/summer forest of Colorado. After selecting the location the player is given a map screen with a hunter icon and field of vision. Deer droppings and other clues that deer may be near-by may be found when moving the icon. At anytime, the player may click the ‘hunt’ button and begin the first person hunting gameplay.

The following screen shows the landscape in first person perspective in 2D but with good depth and color to give a sense of 3D. Although, it may not be in true 3D, it did a a pretty decent job at displaying the landscape with depth. From here you’re given the option to either do a deer call, rattle some horns together to try to coax a buck into the arena, pull out your binoculars to get a closer examination and survey the arena, or ready your weapon to fire. You’re also given wind direction, and the deer AI is pretty smart and run away if they are found downwind of the hunter.

Players can search for that trophy buck and make kills all day long, but the gameplay is fairly limited beyond that. You can kill other animals but will be penalized if they are protected species. This brings another aspect of realism to the game. The trophy system also offers a sense of incentive to want to keep at the hunt for the next big buck.  But, consistently the player has to deal with a limited number of animations and gameplay options, a fact which makes the title feel like a one-beat drum, or just simply restricted in gameplay. But for being one of the first deer hunting games, it does offer a good sense of hunting that was previously in lack in the market.


While this ground-breaking game paved way for an entire new market in simulation games, it lacked in overall gameplay features, animations, and graphics. Yet, if you’re a hunter or just curious about hunting, the game served as a pretty decent simulation of realistic hunting, especially for 1997.


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