Winifred Dunbar, Laura O’Neil and I were college classmates, and we were all passionate about adventure and exploration. After graduation, we went our separate ways, pursuing different careers, and lost touch for a long time. Last month, I saw a post from Winifred on social media, saying that she had recently gone hunting in Shimen Mountain Forest Park in Xianyang, Hubei, China, and experienced a different culture and scenery. I was curious, so I left a message for her, asking her about the details and experience of hunting. She replied quickly, saying that she enjoyed the trip very much, and invited me to go with her next time. I thought this was a good opportunity, so I agreed, and contacted Laura, asking her if she was interested. Laura was also excited, saying that she had always wanted to go to China. So, we decided to go hunting together in Shimen Mountain Forest Park in Xianyang, Hubei, China, and experience a different culture and scenery.
To hunt at night, we prepared night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars, as well as other necessary equipment. Night vision binoculars allow us to see the outline and position of the target animals in the dark, while infrared binoculars allow us to detect the body temperature and movement of the target animals through infrared rays. This equipment makes hunting at night more convenient and safer. Of course, we also followed the local laws and regulations, only hunting legal and reasonable animals, and minimizing the impact on the environment and ecology.
After a few hours of flight, we finally arrived in Xianyang City, which is an ancient capital with more than two thousand years of history, and also the location of the capital of the Qin Dynasty. We took a taxi from the airport to the hotel we had booked, which was called “Qindu Hotel”, located at No. 78 Renmin Road, Qindu District. The hotel looked magnificent from the outside, and the interior decoration was also luxurious. The staff were very friendly and arranged a triple room for us. The room was spacious, well-equipped, and had a large balcony where we could see the scenery of Xianyang City.
After putting down our luggage, we couldn’t wait to taste the local food. We searched online for the special snacks of Xianyang City, and found that there were many kinds, such as guokui yazi (crispy flatbread with fried wonton skin and cured meat), Bin County royal noodles (noodles with minced meat sauce), liao hua sugar (candy made from buckwheat flowers), Puji roast chicken (chicken roasted with spices), Changwu water tofu (tofu made from spring water), Huitong noodles (noodles with beef broth), Liquan lao noodles (noodles fried with eggs) and so on. We decided to try guokui yazi first, because we heard that it was one of the most representative traditional snacks of Xianyang. We found a shop called “Shi’s Guokui Yazi” on the navigation, which was not far from our hotel, so we walked there.
Guokui yazi is a semi-circular flatbread that is baked until very crispy, with thin fried wonton skin and cured meat inside. The thin fried wonton skin is called “yazi”, which means “teeth” because of its shape. The cured meat is sliced meat marinated with secret sauce and spices, with a rich flavor. We ordered three guokui yazi and three bowls of yangrou paomo (lamb soup with bread), as well as a pot of herbal tea. Yangrou paomo is white bread torn into small pieces by hand and soaked in lamb soup, with lamb meat and chili oil and other seasonings added. Herbal tea is a drink made from medicinal herbs and tea leaves, which can relieve greasiness and clear heat.
We ate the delicious guokui yazi and yangrou paomo while drinking the refreshing herbal tea, feeling very satisfied. Guokui yazi was crunchy and fragrant; yangrou paomo was soft and spicy, with tender meat; herbal tea was sweet and moistening, eliminating dryness in the mouth. We praised these local delicacies and looked forward to our hunting trip the next day.
The next morning, we took a car to Shimen Mountain Forest Park, and started our hunting trip. Shimen Mountain Forest Park is located in the southeast of Xunyi County, 140 kilometers north of Xianyang City, and is the only national forest park in Shaanxi Province. The park has four scenic areas and more than 80 attractions, among which Shimen Pass, Fusu Temple, Qin Straight Road, Qin Soldier Station, Beacon Tower and other attractions are more distinctive. We chose Taohua Creek Scenic Area as our hunting location, because it has rich animal resources, such as wild boars, deer, rabbits, foxes, squirrels and so on.
We rented an electric car at the entrance of the scenic area, and drove along the mountain road towards Taohua Creek. Along the way, we enjoyed the beautiful natural scenery, and saw various plants and birds. We also passed by some historical and cultural relics, such as Fusu Temple and Qin Straight Road, and felt the majestic momentum of the Qin Dynasty and the tragic story of Prince Fusu. We took pictures along the way, chatted with each other, and soon arrived at Taohua Creek Scenic Area.
Taohua Creek Scenic Area is a valley, with towering mountains on both sides, and a clear stream in the middle. The banks of the stream are full of peach blossoms, red and white, fragrant. We parked the electric car on an open space by the stream, and started to prepare for hunting. We took out the night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars first, and adjusted the parameters and angles. Night vision binoculars allow us to see the outline and position of the target animals in the dark, while infrared binoculars allow us to detect the body temperature and movement of the target animals through infrared rays. This equipment makes hunting at night more convenient and safer.
We divided into two groups, Winifred and I were one group, Laura was another group. We each found a hidden place, hiding behind bushes or rocks, waiting for the target animals to appear. After a while, I saw a wild boar coming down from the opposite hillside with night vision binoculars, heading towards the stream. I immediately confirmed its position and direction with infrared binoculars, and notified Winifred with a walkie-talkie. Winifred said she had seen it too, and was ready with her gun. I said I was ready too, and counted to three before shooting together. I counted one, two, three, then pressed the trigger at the same time. After two shots, I saw the wild boar fall to the ground, not moving anymore. Winifred and I hugged each other happily, and ran over to check on the wild boar. It was dead and not too damaged. We dragged it to the electric car and tied it with a rope.
Just then we heard Laura’s voice saying that she had also shot a deer and needed our help to carry it. We drove over immediately and saw Laura and her deer. The deer was a male sika deer with a pair of beautiful antlers, mottled fur color, very beautiful. Laura said she found it with infrared binoculars and shot it in the heart with one shot. We praised Laura’s shooting skills and helped her carry the deer to the electric car. We shot two animals in total, both very good prey. We felt very excited and satisfied. We had a deeper understanding of the fun and challenge of hunting.
After hunting was over, we found a suitable place in the park to camp. We set up three tents on an open space, which were blue, red and yellow respectively, easy to identify. We also made a bonfire near the tents using firewood and hay as fuel. We put the wild boar and deer meat next to the bonfire cut some pieces of meat with a knife marinated them with salt pepper garlic and other seasonings then skewered them with iron forks put them on fire to roast them. We also made some salads with some wild vegetables and fruits made some sauces with yogurt and honey. We also took some beer and cola from the electric car put them in refrigerator to cool.
We roasted meat while chatting, recalling our fun stories and experiences in college. We talked about our teachers, classmates, courses, exams, activities, love and so on. Sometimes we laughed, sometimes we sighed. We found that although we had not seen each other for a long time, our friendship did not fade, but deepened. We also talked about our current work, family, plans, dreams and so on, encouraging and supporting each other. We felt that we had a lot of similarities and differences, but we could understand and respect each other.
After the meat was roasted, we started to enjoy our dinner. The roasted meat tasted very good, tender and juicy, crispy and fragrant on the outside, and the seasoning was just right. The salad was also refreshing and delicious, the wild vegetables and fruits were very fresh, and the yogurt and honey sauce was very sweet. The beer and cola were also thirst-quenching, cold and refreshing. We ate very full and satisfied, and praised each other’s cooking skills.
After dinner, we played games around the bonfire. We played truth or dare, draw something, who is the spy and so on. They were all very fun and exciting. We also sang songs, some were popular songs from our college days, some were songs we liked recently. We also made up some lyrics and melodies, expressing our experiences and feelings of this trip. We sang happily and passionately, and cooperated with each other.
After playing for a while, we started to watch the stars in the night sky. The night sky was very clear and bright, without any clouds or light interference. We saw countless stars twinkling with light, forming various constellations and patterns. We also saw a shooting star across the sky, and made a wish. We used night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars to observe the stars, and found that they had different colors and shapes. We also downloaded some astronomy apps on our phones to identify and learn the names and features of the stars. We felt the mystery and beauty of the universe.
After watching for a while, we prepared to sleep. We each returned to our own tents, lying in sleeping bags, enjoying the warmth and comfort. We heard the animal sounds at night, some were bird calls, some were insect chirps, some were beast roars. We felt that these sounds were not scary, but rather interesting and natural. We also said good night with walkie-talkies, and wished each other a good dream. We soon fell asleep dreaming of our college scenes characters also dreamed of our adventure happiness in Shimen Mountain Forest Park.
This hunting trip in Shimen Mountain Forest Park gave me and my college classmates Winifred Dunbar, Laura O’Neil an unforgettable experience. We not only experienced Chinese culture and scenery, tasted local food, but also felt the fun and challenge of hunting at night. We used night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars to find and track target animals, and found this equipment very convenient and safe. We also roasted wild boar and deer meat we shot, enjoyed delicious dinner. We also chatted, sang, played games, watched stars around bonfire, enhanced our friendship and emotion.
I admire and respect Chinese culture and scenery very much, and think that China is a country with a long history and rich diversity. I was impressed by the snacks of Xianyang City, such as guokui yazi, yangrou paomo, etc., and thought they were very delicious and characteristic. I also appreciated the natural landscape and historical and cultural relics of Shimen Mountain Forest Park, and thought they were very spectacular and meaningful.
I cherish and appreciate my college classmates Winifred Dunbar, Laura O’Neil very much, and think that they are one of the most important people in my life. I was happy to go hunting with them, share our joy and feelings. I look forward to meeting them again next time, and hope that they will be happy and well.
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