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The astronaut was named Dixon and he had to fight off wild dogs. He killed them but they didn't associate the weapon with the killing so he made bows and arrows when his ray gun ran out of charges. This did the trick; the dogs backed off when they saw he was killing them with arrows.

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  • Similar to this? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/82817/…
    – Aww_Geez
    May 19, 2021 at 21:37
  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. When did you read this? Do you remember where, or any details of what the cover looked like?
    – DavidW
    May 19, 2021 at 21:52
  • @TGnat we only close story-ids as dupe if the answer is confirmed to be the same. I suggest you post an answer and if it is accepted it can then be closed as such. Since you answered the other post, maybe posting a shorter summary and linking would be sufficient, if you don't intend on doing as much work.
    – Edlothiad
    May 19, 2021 at 22:01
  • arrows sure did not get replaced overnight. guns were unreliable and not in any respect superior to arrows for a long time.
    – releseabe
    May 20, 2021 at 0:24

1 Answer 1

29

This does indeed seem to be "The Gun Without a Bang" by Robert Sheckley, originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1958 as by Finn O'Donnevan.

Alfred Dixon is alone on an alien planet, but unafraid of any dangers:

Did a twig snap? Dixon looked back and thought he saw a dark shape melt into the underbrush. Instantly he froze, staring back through the green-boled trees. There was a complete and expectant silence. Far overhead, a carrion bird balanced on an updraft, surveying the sunburned landscape, waiting, hoping.

Then Dixon heard a low, impatient cough from the underbrush.

Now he knew he was being followed. Before, it had only been an assumption. But those vague, half-seen shapes had been real. They had left him alone on his trek to the signal station, watching, deciding. Now they were ready to try something.

He removed the Weapon from its holster, checked the safeties, reholstered it and continued walking.

He heard another cough. Something was patiently trailing him, probably waiting until he left the bush and entered the forest. Dixon grinned to himself.

Nothing could hurt him. He had the Weapon.

He is being stalked by dog-like predators:

He looked back again. There were three beasts, less than fifty yards behind him. From that distance, they resembled dogs or hyenas. They coughed at him and moved slowly forward.

Dixon comes to the realization that the not-dogs are not learning to associate him or the gun with danger:

Why didn’t they learn?

It suddenly burst upon him. They didn't learn, he thought, because the lesson was too subtle!

The Weapon — disintegrating silently, quickly, cleanly. Most of the dogs he hit simply vanished. There were no yelps of agony, no roars or howls or screams.

And above all, there was no loud boom to startle them, no smell of cordite, no click of a new shell levered in...

And indeed Dixon survived by constructing a bow and arrow and hunting them the old-fashioned way:

Dixon grinned and touched a bow that leaned against the palisade within easy reach. It had been cut from a piece of seasoned, springy wood, and beside it was a quiver-full of arrows.

“They learned respect,” Dixon said, “after they saw a few of their pals running around with a shaft through their flanks.”

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  • reminds me of one of the riddick flicks, i liked it pretty much because of his feral dog.
    – releseabe
    May 20, 2021 at 0:22

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