The Hunt is a concept considered sacred to the majority of the Yautja race. The hunting of dangerous prey is the backbone of Yautja society and the means by which individuals prove their worth. Hunts typically involve a lone Yautja individual, or perhaps a small group of individuals, traveling to a remote location to track and kill dangerous and worthy prey, and the collection of trophies from that prey. However, entire clans can take up a large-scale Hunt, typically against enemies a single or few predators could not stand against.
Hunts exclusively target dangerous organisms that offer the Yautja a significant challenge, be it thanks to the prey's physical strength, mental capacity or technological prowess. Preferred victims include humans and in particular the species Xenomorph XX121, which the Yautja apparently deem to be the "ultimate prey". Special Hunts are also used as a form of initiation ritual for Young Blood Yautja, representing a kind of a trial-by-combat that marks a young Yautja's passage from adolescence into adulthood. These initiation Hunts typically involve Xenomorph prey and may take place inside a Yautja pyramid or other sacred temple.
Yautja culture revolves around the stalking and hunting of dangerous lifeforms. Yautja primarily hunt not for sustenance or the elimination of threats, but purely as a means of entertainment and proof of worth. As such, they will only attack life forms that have the ability, natural or technological, to provide them with a challenge. Indeed, Predators will travel great distances to find worthy opponents, often drawn by intense heat and conflict. In rarer cases, Yautja have been known to attract or simply kidnap worthy prey, bringing them to a Hunting ground of their choosing, although this is thought to be atypical. Certain Yautja individuals have also been known to use other non-sentient species as tools to aid them in their Hunts, including alien hunting hounds. On occasion, if a particularly worthy member of a sentient species is found on a Hunt, Predators will systematically eliminate those who are close to the intended target in an attempt to enrage them and increase the challenge of the final confrontation.
After making a kill, a Predator may mutilate the corpse and turn it into a trophy — this is done only for prey who were considered worthy. This process can involve skinning (often while the victim is still alive), decapitating or removing the skull and spine from the carcass, or even removing all of the bones from the body altogether. One typical means of displaying a kill is to hang the flayed body by the feet from a great height so as to be visible to others. Skulls and sometimes spinal cords are routinely removed and collected, and can commonly be found displayed on board Yautja vessels, in trophy rooms or even worn about the individual Yautja's person if size permits this.
Defeat in a Hunt typically results in the Predator committing honorable suicide, usually through the detonation of their wrist gauntlet's Self-Destruct Device, which may simultaneously be used as a last-ditch attempt to kill their prey. This explosion is also intended to wipe out all traces of the Predator and prevent their advanced technology from falling into the hands of their prey, an occurrence which is considered a huge affront by Yautja society and typically results in the Predator responsible being banished. Should they be killed, a Yautja's ship will return automatically to their homeworld, taking with it a record of the individual's Hunt, recorded through their bio-helmet. These records are often viewed by other Yautja with interest and have even been known to encourage further hunting of the species involved in their predecessor's death.
- Main article: Yautja Honor Code
Despite the ferocity and brutality with which Predators hunt and kill their prey, they seemingly adhere to a code of honor that dictates who they may and may not kill. On Earth, this has displayed itself as a refusal to harm children, unarmed adults or the elderly. Yautja have also been known to spare pregnant women or those with terminal illnesses, although they will not hesitate to kill such targets if directly assaulted by them. A human who has managed to kill a Yautja in single combat is often spared by the species and perhaps even rewarded with a gift (often a weapon, either of Yautja manufacture or a prize from a previous Hunt) as a sign of respect. In even rarer cases, a human who has fought valiantly alongside a Predator may be similarly honored, as was the case with Lex Woods on Bouvet Island. Should a target challenge a Predator to a fair, hand-to-hand fight, the Predator will often abide, and strip themselves of their advanced technology, barring their wrist gauntlet, to challenge them.
Weapons and technology of the Hunt
- Main article: Yautja technology
Notably, the Yautja use an eclectic array of equipment on their Hunts, ranging from incredibly advanced plasma-based technology to ancient, relatively rudimentary bladed weapons. This diverse and seemingly incongruous mix is thought to be a result of the species distinct honor code, which dictates that the use of traditional weapons such as Wristblades or the Combistick carries with it a higher degree of honor than more technologically advanced weaponry such as the Plasmacaster. This belief manifests itself most prominently in the tendency of Yautja individuals to discard their advanced technology when confronted by a particularly worthy individual, and instead face their prey using only their most basic of weapons — their Wristblades.
The vast majority of hunters are male Yautja; this is due in part to the females of the species remaining on-world where they rule planets. However, some female hunters do exist. It is said the reasoning for a female to engage in the hunt is different than males. While a male seeks honor to gain respect from his fellow hunters, status, and to attract females to sire Sucklings upon, female Yautja hunt to prove themselves worthy and able to defend the worlds they rule. The Matriarch title is superior to that of a Clan Leader, though it is unclear how females come into the title.
- The word "Hunt", as used by both Yautja and Hish in the Predator novel series, is always printed with a capital "H".
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- Simon Hawke. Predator 2, p. 21 (1990), Jove Books.