I and Benjamin Fielding, Lewis Terry are good friends from college, we are all nature and adventure lovers, often go to the wild to explore and hunt. After graduation, we went our separate ways and never saw each other again. Last month, I received an email from Benjamin, he said he wanted to go to China’s Shaanxi Ankang Leigutai Forest Park to hunt, and asked me if I was interested in going with him. I saw the email and felt very excited, I always wanted to go to China to see the local customs and natural scenery there. I replied to him immediately, saying that I was very happy to participate. I also contacted Lewis; he also expressed the same interest. In this way, we decided on this night hunting plan at Leigutai. We hope that through this trip, we can not only experience China’s hunting culture and cuisine, but also relive our old friendship.
Leigutai Forest Park is a national forest park in Ankang City, Shaanxi Province, China, located at the southern foot of the Qinling Mountains, about 40 kilometers away from Ankang City. This is one of the birthplaces of Taoism, with a long history and culture. It is said that in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods, Qin Xiaogong, the founder of the Qin State, practiced here and became immortal, leaving behind many legends and relics. The name of Leigutai is also because there is a huge rock here that looks like a drum. When the wind blows, it makes a sound like a drum.
Leigutai Forest Park not only has rich cultural landscapes, but also has spectacular natural scenery. Here the mountains are undulating, the trees are lush, the climate is pleasant, and the seasons are distinct. This is China’s largest wild sable protection area, and also the habitat of rare animals such as golden monkeys, crested ibis, giant pandas and so on. There are also many natural wonders such as caves, waterfalls, hot springs and so on, which are dazzling. Leigutai Forest Park is known as “the small Jiuzhaigou in southern China”.
In such a place full of mystery and charm, we chose night hunting as our adventure activity. We want to feel the thrill and pleasure of confronting wild animals in the dark, and also want to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the night here. We brought our night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars, ready to start our night hunting journey.
The preparation work for night hunting is very important, it relates to our safety and efficiency. Before we set off, we did a lot of research and planning, choosing the appropriate hunting location, time, weapons and equipment.
We chose the southern area of Leigutai Forest Park as our hunting location, because there are more animal species there, and less human traces, less likely to be disturbed. We chose the night when the moon was dark and the wind was high as our hunting time, because then the animals were more active, and the vision was worse, more challenging. We chose air rifles as our weapons, because they have moderate power, low noise, less likely to alarm other animals. We chose night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars as our equipment, because they can help us observe and track animals in the dark.
Night vision binoculars are essential equipment for night hunting, they can make us see more clearly in the dark. The principle of night vision binoculars is to use a low-light intensifier or an electronic amplifier to amplify the weak ambient light (such as moonlight, starlight etc.) by thousands of times and display it on the eyepiece lens forming a green image. Night vision binoculars can let us see the outline and features of animals judge their species and distance.
Infrared binoculars are advanced equipment for night hunting, they can let us discover animals in no-light or low-light conditions. The principle of infrared binoculars is to use infrared detectors or thermal imagers to convert the infrared rays (i.e., heat energy) emitted by the animal’s body surface into electrical signals, and then convert them into visible light images, displayed on the eyepiece lens. Infrared binoculars can let us see the animal’s body temperature and position, judge their state and direction.
With this equipment, we can have a fierce showdown with wild animals at night.
The process and feeling of night hunting are hard to express in words, it is a tense and exciting experience, making the heart beat faster, the blood boil. At night, we lurk in the forest like cheetahs, using night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars to find and lock the target, then quickly attack, shoot or capture animals.
We encountered a variety of animals, some of which we were familiar with, some of which we had never seen before. Some were gentle, some were fierce. Some acted alone, some in groups. We adopted different strategies and methods according to different animals, trying to avoid alarming other animals or causing danger.
We used night vision binoculars to observe the outline and features of animals, judge their species and distance. For example, we saw a wild sable, it is a precious fur animal, with purple fur on its body, very beautiful. We quietly approached it, waiting for the opportunity. When it stopped to drink water, we immediately shot it and hit it. We walked over, picked it up, felt its soft fur and warm body temperature.
We used infrared binoculars to detect the body temperature and position of animals, judge their state and direction. For example, we found a group of golden monkeys, they are an endangered primate species, with golden hair on their bodies, very cute. We saw them jumping on the trees, playing happily. We did not want to disturb them, just wanted to take a few photos as a souvenir. We adjusted the camera settings, aimed at the most lively one, pressed the shutter.
We also encountered some difficulties and thrilling experiences in night hunting. For example, once we accidentally entered the territory of a giant panda, it is a national first-class protected animal, very precious and strong. When we found it, it had already found us and made a threatening roar. We immediately put away our guns and equipment, backed up a few steps, indicating that we had no hostility. Fortunately, it did not attack us, just warned us a bit then turned away.
Night hunting made us feel the charm and power of nature as well as the warmth and support of friendship. In the process of confronting wild animals at night we not only exercised our skills and courage but also enhanced our trust and tacit understanding.
The leisure activities after night hunting were another highlight of our trip they let us enjoy delicious food while also enjoying the warmth and joy of friendship. We found a farmhouse in the local area gave our hunting results to the boss let him help us deal with and cook them. We also tasted the local specialties felt the flavor and charm of Ankang.
Our hunting results included wild sable, pheasant, hare and so on. The boss used his specialty dishes to make us a table of delicious dishes. There was braised sable, tender meat, rich soup; there were stewed pheasant with mushrooms, fragrant and tasty; there were braised cabbage with hare, light and refreshing, nutritious. We ate and drank, chatted and laughed, very happy.
We also tasted the local specialties, such as Ankang steamed noodles, Langao spicy chicken, fairy tofu and so on. Ankang steamed noodles are a kind of noodles made by steaming in a pressure cooker, soft and glutinous, with minced meat, garlic paste, chili oil and other seasonings, spicy and delicious. Langao spicy chicken is a dish made with chicken and dried chili peppers, tender and smooth chicken, spicy chili peppers. Fairy tofu is a soup made with tofu and eggs, fine and tender tofu, fluffy eggs. These delicacies made us enjoy ourselves and praise them.
In addition to eating and drinking, we did not forget to communicate and reminisce. We talked about our respective work and life, shared our joys and sorrows. We recalled the interesting stories and insights of our college days, laughing out loud. We also sang our favorite song in college days “Friendship Lasts Forever”, the voice echoed in the valley.
The leisure activities after night hunting made us feel the temptation and satisfaction of food as well as the warmth and sweetness of friendship. On such a beautiful night we seemed to go back to our youth relived that innocence and happiness.
This night hunting trip at Leigutai was an unforgettable experience for the three of us. We not only experienced China’s hunting culture and cuisine but also relived our old friendship. We thanked this land for giving us such an opportunity to confront wild animals in the dark as well as to accompany friendship on a beautiful night. We blessed this land wishing it to always maintain its mystery and charm as well as wishing its animals and plants to thrive and coexist harmoniously. We blessed each other wishing our friendship lasts forever as well as wishing our life happy and healthy. We looked forward to the next reunion as well as the next adventure.