Red Dead Redemption 2 – How to Level Naturalist Fast and Easy (Red Dead Online)

Finding XP gains too little too slow to level up? Hunting takes too much time and is too hard? Then this guide is for you. It will also cover most expenses.

Naturalist LVL Guide

What You Need to Start

  • You need a Varmint rifle.
  • You need to buy a full stack of sedative 0.22 caliber bullets for Varmint rifle that can be bought for only 8 dollars from Harriet (I prefer her tent by McFarlane Ranch).
  • At least 20 dollars for fast travel but keep in mind stable and camp upkeep taxes too.

Things You Won’t Need

  • You do not need to use any kind of tonic during your hunt (no health damage and no dead eye needed).
  • You don’t need to repair varmint rifle, after doing this for a few hours I noticed that it takes the same amount of shots to down animal no matter how badly damage the rifle is. So feel free to have it at 0 condition when sedating animals.


(Provided you already have the role that costs 25 gold bars, varmint rifle and a full stack of sedative ammo) Upon start of your game session you will be greeted with this menu. 

You need to start your game in New Austin. Once in game you need to press “L” which will open the online menu for you. You need to scroll all the way down until you see “Online”. Press Enter or click on “Online”. There you will see Social Matchmaking – change it from ON to OFF. Great.

The reason we did this is because the game will sometimes have trouble spawning wildlife around you when there are many players around. And when a session starts, all players are usually clustered together. The Idea here is to start your session in New Austin and then fast travel far away from it, to the other end of the map, and with Social Matchmaking disables people will stop spawning around you. It helps with animal spawns and lets you evade cheaters, and griefers, and competition too.

Now, find the nearest fast travel post and pay anywhere from 11 to 8 dollars to fast travel to Emerald Ranch. Once there go to the animal pens, nearby the fence. There should be Cows and Oxen, some Alpine goats and !most importantly! Sheep. Loads of Sheep.

Never open or even touch, or go through any gates and if did go through close them. Because if you do that animals will run off and you will lose some of them, or all of them.

Proceed to empty your varmint rifle with sedated bullets on all animals around. They are stuck in pens, have nowhere to run, it is really easy to shoot them all with hip fire, no need for paint it black. Or you can aim down sights. I just do whatever I feel like.

You should kill a few cows, a few goats if you are lucky to see them and always try to get 10 sheep. Sheep are easy, they usually spawn in large groups. If not enough animals spawned for you, you can ride around the area. Not too close to pens so you do not see what’s going inside but not too far that you have trouble coming back.

If you are looking for another Ranch you can go to my waypoint, here in the center. 

It only has cows and there is a gate missing. So make sure to stand by the gate hole to scare cows from leaving and use scope on your varmint rifle to shoot them from afar. I had so many cows spawn for me and they take about 10 shots to sedate (maybe a bit less, sheep take 3-4 shots, rarely 2) so that by the time I was done shooting them all some of them recovered. Anyway, now go back to Emerald Ranch pens and get the rest of the animals, make sure you leave with 10 sheep.

Buy fast travel from Emerald Ranch to McFarlane Ranch (7.5$) and ride to Harriet. Sell animal samples, restock on sedative ammo. You should get around 900 role xp per run if you did good. The sheep themselves give you from 570xp to 620xp for the full 10 stack. (I do have 15% xp bonus from the Outlaw Pass, so get it too, you will be able to level it with XP from the role and it will help with the role as well, besides you will make 40 gold bars back).

This is how much I usually get per one run. Sometimes I can get more. It is very time efficient. 

Rinse and repeat. Should not take too much time. Eventually someone might make their way to Emerald Ranch. But with Social Matchmaking off they won’t stay there for long. Or you can just start a new session in Austin.

Legendary Bison near Emerald Ranch

If you are lucky you will get a message about a legendary animal nearby. It will be marked in form of a small yellow question mark that will pop on and off. Use legendary animal secretion, mount your horse, pull varmint rifle out and gun that guy (sedate) down. That is some nice extra role xp for you.

Combine This with Moonshiner Role

Have your shack placed in New Hanover. That way you can do a moonshiner run every 2-3 rounds you do this. If your wagon is large then can get around 200$, besides the fast travel and ammo cost is covered by selling animal samples.

Do a run, come back to the shack to start brewing another and on your way to fast travel, visit the ranch and get some more animals sedated.

Can You Get to Level 20 Doing This?

I suspect not. I am only at the end of level 10 myself. Got there fairly fast. Then I checked compendium and each animal has a progression counter. I believe that once that counter is full you might stop getting xp for those animals. But I have about 80% on Sheep and 40-50% other animals in Ranch. And I recall reading something about being able to re-set animal progression but I think to do that you need to get all animals in one section to 100%. That would mean all farm animals to 100% and we do not hunt them all in this guide.

Still, I bet it can take me to level 15 easy, even if I run out of XP. And then you can just do events and missions for Harriet. The hardest part is getting to level 5-7 in terms of available things to do.

Miscellaneous Information

  • During Protect Legendary Animal events, if you die but wait until the end of the event in spectator mode you will still get rewarded with Legendary Animal sample.
  • During Animal Taming events it seems that you are nearby to someone or could be just in general, you get rewarded with samples taken by other people too.
  • If you are hunting with a friend you can lasso a large animal like Moose or deer and hold them in place while your friend is pelting the animal with sedatives.
  • If someone has collected samples from that animal you can collect them as well. In fact, as many people as there can be, can collect 1 sample from the same animal.
Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13547 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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