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A specific and common variety of a Make It Look Like an Accident, this is an assassination attempt during a hunting party which cleverly takes advantage of all of the weaponry about to "accidentally" fire upon a fellow participant. Particularly clever about this method, is that even if the perpetrator was identified as firing the fatal shot, at most, they appear guilty of manslaughter.

Of course, sometimes, it fails to look like an accident at all.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Hunting Accident include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Berserk, the Deadly Decadent Court of Midland attempts this against Griffith during the arc in which he and the Band of the Hawk rise through society despite their common origins. The attack fails due to the arrow hitting Griffith's Behelit instead. Griffith knows what's up, though, and eventually arranges the deaths of everyone responsible. Including the frigging QUEEN!


Film

  • In the James Bond movie Moonraker, the villain, Drax, takes Bond hunting for this purpose; Bond "accidentally" shoots his presumptive assassin.
  • One of the adoptive fathers in The Boys from Brazil is shot and killed in a 'hunting accident'. It happens off-screen with the investigators arriving in time for the funeral.
  • In the "Father's Day" segment of Creepshow, we learn that Bedelia Grantham's monstrous father had her beau killed in a "hunting accident" (this explanation is delivered complete with air quotes).
  • Scotland, PA actually subverts this. Joe McBeth clearly intends to fake a hunting accident to kill Banko for knowing too much, and he seems to succeed. Then it turns out the death was just deceptive editing, and Banko's just unconscious. Joe finds another way to kill him, later.
  • In Ran, the princes Taro and Jiro attack their fathers castle and slaughter everyone inside when a general rides up to Jiro and tells him that his older brother was fataly shot by a stray bullet that probably came from one of the towers. Jiro just stares at him intensely, which makes the general look at the still smoking musket he is holding in his hand. The general just throws the musket away, and the two never speak of this unfortunate tragedy again.
  • This is how Louis murders Ethelred D'Ascoyne in Kind Hearts and Coronets. He lures Ethelred into a mantrap and then shoots him with own gun; making it look like Ethelred dropped the gun and it discharged when it hit the ground.


Franco-Belgian Comics

  • A graphic novel co-written by Enki Billal, probably known as The Hunt or something similar if it ever was released in English, is one looong Hunting Accident spanning the entire book. With all the characters being officials in Soviet vassal states, the "accident" is a little more advanced than usual, by using the Credible Threat of an angry bear and the rather telling line:

  "I would watch my mouth if I were you, it is not uncommon for a second accident to occur when someone has already died."


Literature

  • In the Flashman novel Flashman and the Great Game, the Russian villain Count Ignatieff tries to kill him while they are both guests at Balmoral.
  • Given a science fiction twist in The Culture novel The Player of Games- the protagonist goes on a hunting trip with a noble who is described as being a rather ruthless schemer who tries to kill him. The twist is that the character didn't attempt this of his own volition, but instead had his body taken over and controlled by others through technology. In fact, he surprisingly tries to show some Heroic Willpower. Underscoring how involuntary this is, he continues firing, even after his head has been blown away.
  • King Robert Baratheon in A Song of Ice and Fire died due to being gored while hunting. It was all a setup by Cersei, so it probably counts.
    • Sam Tarly is threatened with one of these by his father if he doesn't leave to join the Night's Watch. Specifically, that he would be hunted down like a pig. So, not a particularly convincing "accident".
    • Cersei also asks Ser Balman to arrange a hunting "accident" for Bronn. The honourable Ser Balman instead tries fighting Bronn openly in a joust, which goes poorly.
    • The Clegane brothers' father is strongly rumored to have been killed in one such hunting "accident" arranged by Gregor.
  • There is a non-fatal one in Agatha Christie's novel Curtain.
  • A variant occurs in one of Katharine Kerr's Deverry novels -- a character fakes their own death in a hunting accident.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Hagen's murder of Siegfried in the Nibelungenlied (and Götterdämmerung).
  • "Bridle and Saddle", one of Isaac Asimov's Foundation stories (reprinted in Foundation as "The Mayors"): "The king's father died under suspicious circumstances. A needle bullet through the chest during a hunt. It was called an accident."
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, after Queen Selenay's husband Prince Karathanelan is killed during his attempt to assassinate Selenay, the explanation is that he died in a hunting accident. It's true in a sense, since he was hunting Selenay. Atypically, Thanel is a villain, and his killers are the heroes of the piece.
  • In One Tenth Percent, Erast Fandorin investigates a murder that looks like a Hunting Accident, since the murderer has had no motive at all, but it turns out, he "traded places" with another murderer, so that they could kill each other's targets without arousing suspicion.
  • Happens in the backstory of Kushiel's Dart, albeit not with a weapon - before a hunt, the saddle on the horse the Dauphin's fiancee was to ride was tampered with, and she had a fatal fall.
  • In Alexandre Dumas' La Reine Margot, Charles IX would have died in such an accident, if it wasn't for Henry of Navarre. He got himself in a dangerous situation on his own, but his brother, Duke of Alençon, who would have been the King of Poland if Charles died, worsened it by shooting his horse in the leg and making it pin the king to the ground, instead of helping him. In the end, Charles still dies in a hunt-related accident — from reading a poisoned book about falcon hunting that was meant for Henry and was left in his room by d'Alençon.
  • Happens with the eldest son of the Pridd family in Reflections of Eterna by Russian fantasy writer Vera Kamsha. It was seen as an honour killing (because of his rumored "inappropriate" relationship with one of the main characters) by one of the POV characters in first few books.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Mad King, proposed for Von der Tann.

 He hunts a great deal in the Old Forest. It might be possible—in fact, it has happened, before—there are many accidents in hunting, are there not, your highness?

  • Happens in one of Laurie R. King's Mary Russell mysteries, albeit unsuccessfully: the Duke of Justice Hall is shot during a pheasant hunt by a would-be assassin hoping to take advantage of the dually-convenient circumstances of "lots of guns around and nobody's looking at the people" and "an young, inexperienced shooter standing next to the Duke".


Live Action TV

  • Midsomer Murders: During a Christmas family reunion (and if Fatal Family Reunion isn't a trope yet, it should be), there's a pigeon (or some other bird) shoot scheduled. The unsuspecting victim picks up the gun, says it feels heavier than usual, pulls the trigger and Kablooie. As I recall, it had been loaded with cartridges too big for the barrel, resulting in a spectacular backfire.
    • The opposite actually, the cartridges were too small, meaning they slid down the barrel and didn't fire (or eject) until the victim loaded another set in thinking the last shot was a dud (assuming we're thinking about the same episode).
  • Something similar was attempted in Desperate Housewives. It wasn't a hunting trip, but rather a camping trip where "poachers" were supposedly around.
  • Used in Lost, this is how Locke manages to tie up Boone, IIRC.
  • The NCIS team once investigated a missing Marine in a small town with no murders but lots of hunting accidents.
  • CSI has had the occasional "hunting accident" case. In one episode, it turns out that the hunter had actually lost his job, and tried to commit suicide in a way that looked like an accident so his wife would get the life insurance pay-out.

Radio

  • In episode 2 of the Star Wars radio series, after Lord Tion is shot during a fight with Leia, her father arranges for him to be taken to the woods so they can say it was a hunting accident.


Video Games

  Hun warrior: Bleda will lead us to ruin! But perhaps he shall not return from his boar hunt. Accidents can happen...

  • The player can do this to Atilla's brother Bleda or have him killed by the Iron Boar (making it something of a cross between this trope and an actual hunting accident), but Bleda also has his brother ambushed, so they're both trying to pull this on eachother.


Web Comics


Western Animation

  • Subverted in Moral Orel when Orel shoots Clay's liquor bottles at the end of Nature(Part 1). Then played straight when Clay shoots Orel on accident after attempting to punish him.
  • On one Looney Tunes short, Elmer Fudd's dog sees a TV show about cruel dog owners who get rid of their pets by taking them on hunting trips. ("Two go out, but only one returns.") He becomes suspicious when his master takes him hunting, and decides to get Elmer before Elmer gets him. Hilarity Ensues.

Real Life

  • Although the exact circumstances are subject to debate, this was basically the method by which Genghis Khan offed his brother.
  • Ditto Henry I of England as a means of getting rid of William II.
  • Two rival newspapers decided to have an April Fool's joke playing on this: they acted like they were just bought out by Pravda, and the previous editors' disappearance was attributed to "freak simultaneous hunting accidents with high powered rifles to the back of the head". Some people took it for real.
  • Then Vice-President Dick Cheney was involved in a duck hunting accident (presumably genuine) where-in he shot a fellow hunter… at point blank range… in the face… with a shotgun… The man survived and later apologized to the VP in a press conference for all the negative media attention it had brought down on Cheney, including insinuations that this trope had been in effect. Cheney himself never issued any kind of public apology to the man he shot.
  • Con artist Gaston Means applied this method to his lover Maude King after he drained her bank account.Taking her out in the woods in North Carolina in 1917 for rabbit hunting and claiming she had shot herself...in the back of the head...from a far range.

Notes

  1. One Description Cut later, we see him being eaten by an attractive older woman.
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