- "I promise you...none of this is personal...but at the end of the day, no matter how much we may detest this ugly business...a man's gotta eat."
- —Chris to Dale as the group eat his remaining leg.[src]
The Hunters were a group of hostile survivors that Rick's group encountered while on the road to Washington, D.C. The group consisted of five men and one woman who presumably survived the initial days of the global calamity as a regular group of survivors.
The Hunters are primarily led by Chris, and their base was shown to be an isolated countryside home with dense forest and some fences surrounding it. The exact location is unknown, but, it is obviously located somewhere in the countryside between Atlanta and Washington, D.C..
Like most survivors, their lives prior to the undead apocalypse are unknown, and the circumstances to which they survived and became cannibalistic hunters is only lightly touched upon. The only details of their revealed origin prior to their conflict with Rick's group was explained by Chris. Initially, The Hunters had survived on normal food supplies. However, when food became scarce and scavenging was no longer a safe option, they resorted to cannibalism, due to, ironically, being terrible hunters. It was implied from Chris' story and his visible emotional grief that the Hunters ate their own children to survive.
After the Hunters had consumed the bodies of their children, the group moved on to hunting other living survivors for sustenance. They believed that other living humans were much easier game than hunting animals or gathering other food supplies, and began to prey on small groups and loners with increasing confidence.
Chris told Rick that the Hunters had normally and consciously avoided larger groups, but, by the time of their conflict with Rick's group, Chris said that they had no luck tracking down smaller groups or loners in the past few days. This explained why they resorted to hunting down Rick's larger group; they were getting desperate and needed food.
The Hunters first came into contact with the survivors after the fall of the prison. Rick's group were traveling across the country to Washington, D.C., and while on the road, Greg and Charlie had spotted them. The pair continued to observe Rick's group from a distance in Issue 61, and watched Andrea as she went into the woods and spooked her enough for her to believe she was being watched. However, the in-fighting between Rick's group, due to Billy's death at the hands of his twin brother Ben and Gabriel Stokes mysterious and sudden appearance distracted them from taking their usual safety measures and precautions.
Greg and Charlie continued to watch the group as they fought amongst themselves. When Dale was bitten and had left the campsite to die in the woods away from the group, they took the opportunity and abducted him in Issue 62. However, the pair did not know of the bite wound Dale had sustained from a zombie prior to his abduction.
Rick's group later became alerted to the possibility of being watched by the Hunters in Issue 63 after Dale's disappearance and Andrea's worries. The Hunters had meanwhile introduced themselves to the dazed and confused Dale, revealing they had cooked and eaten his remaining leg. Dale had lost his other leg after a zombie bit his leg, followed by an intentional amputation in Issue 39.
In Issue 64, Dale revealed to the Hunters that he had been bitten. He scared the members of the Hunters who had eaten his leg and enraged Chris enough to violently kick him until he became unconscious. Albert considered cutting out his own tongue to prevent infection, but, Chris argued that it was useless to do so. David theorized that the meat was not dangerous since it came from an unturned person and had been thoroughly cooked. However, the theory never came to be seen as right or wrong.
The Hunters eventually decided to leave the wounded Dale in front of Gabriel's Church as bait for the other survivors to come out into the open. Their plan worked, and Glenn was shot in the leg by Albert, though the shot went clean through. The attack and Dale's mutilation visibly infuriated Rick, Abraham and Michonne and the rest of the group, and spurned them into violent retaliation.
The Hunters left the church to report back to Chris, but they did not know that Rick, Abraham, Michonne and Andrea were searching the surrounding communities, led by Gabriel, who was the only one familiar with the area. The Hunters were consequently taken by surprise a few hours later when Rick's group ambushed them at their own camp in Issue 65.
Negotiations were attempted by Rick in order to get the Hunters to stop targeting their group, but Chris did not entertain the option, believing that he and his group could handle Rick, who appeared to be alone. Chris told Rick their reasons for hunting other living humans, and revealed they had eaten their own children. This was the only time Chris had ever showed remorse for his actions, hinting that it was his own children they ate, but he justified it by saying it was to survive, as animals in the wild (bears in this instance) would eat their own young if they would otherwise starve to death. After crossing that line, it was a short step for them to become manhunters and continue to engage in acts of cannibalism.
Before Chris could subdue or attack Rick, Rick revealed he was not alone. Chris continued acting defiant, and Rick showed he was in control when he signaled for Andrea to shoot the ear off of Greg, the most physically threatening member of the Hunters. When Chris still believed it was only the two of them, Abraham and Michonne came out of hiding, and Andrea mangled Chris' finger with another shot. The Hunters then submitted, and Chris fell to his knees and begged for their lives.
Rick proceeded to taunt Chris and his Hunters with the possibility of cannibalizing them in retaliation for their mutilation of Dale and attack on Glenn. Rick and the group instead proceeded to kill all of the Hunters with their bladed weapons. The bodies were burned afterwards as Michonne and Abraham threw the corpses into a makeshift fire.
It was not explicitly shown how each member of the Hunters had died, or who of Rick's group had killed them, but, it was implied each of the four, except Gabriel, had participated in the bloody executions.
The execution of the Hunters was one of the most violent actions of the Rick's group up until that point, and brought considerable unease and internal conflict among them in Issue 66. It effectively became a turning point for the survivors in the way they communicated and handled other survivor groups, as they had become hardened from their prior bloody experiences with The Governor and the Woodbury Army.
This list shows the victims The Hunters have killed:
- Numerous amounts of zombies and unnamed people.