Derrick MacMillan, Astrid Alsop and I were college classmates, and we all loved nature and adventure. After graduation, we went our separate ways and never saw each other again. Last month, we finally had a chance to reunite, and we agreed to go hunting together at Nanling National Forest Park in Shaoguan, China, and experience the fun of hunting at night. Nanling National Forest Park is one of the largest forest parks in China, with rich wildlife resources and magnificent natural scenery. We brought professional night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars, ready to find and capture the animals we were interested in in the dark. Hunting at night is an exciting and dangerous activity that requires us to have enough courage, skill and equipment. In this article, I will share our hunting trip in Shaoguan, as well as our feelings and understanding of hunting at night. I will also introduce the local delicacies we tasted in Shaoguan, so that you can also feel the charm and flavor of Shaoguan.
Nanling National Forest Park is located in Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province, China. It is one of the largest forest parks in China, covering an area of 14,000 hectares. There are 72 peaks in the park, the highest being Dawu Mountain, with an altitude of 1,902 meters. The park’s scenic features are sea of clouds, foggy forests, waterfalls, caves and strange rocks, attracting many tourists and photography enthusiasts. The park also has rich wildlife resources, with more than 300 species of birds and more than 60 species of mammals, including national first-class protected animals such as clouded leopards and national second-class protected animals such as pangolins, white eared-pheasants and white-necked long-tailed pheasants. We chose this place as our hunting destination because we wanted to contact and observe these precious and rare animals, and also wanted to challenge our hunting ability in complex and rugged terrain. We booked a wooden cabin in the park as a place to stay and rest, ready to leave at night and start our night hunting trip.
One of the essential equipment for hunting at night is night vision binoculars. Night vision binoculars are instruments that can see objects clearly in the dark. They work by using low-light enhancement technology or thermal imaging technology to convert weak light or heat radiation into visible images. The advantage of night vision binoculars is that they can observe the shape, position and movement of animals in the absence of any light source without being discovered or frightened by animals. We used a binocular type of night vision binoculars that can observe images from both eyes at the same time, improving the field of view and clarity. How do we use night vision binoculars? We first need to choose the appropriate magnification and brightness according to the terrain and weather conditions, then put the night vision binoculars in front of our eyes, adjust the focus and alignment, and then we can see everything in the dark. We can use night vision binoculars to find and aim at the animals we want to hunt, then use firearms or bows and arrows to shoot them. Of course, we also need to protect our night vision binoculars from strong light or moisture, otherwise it will damage their performance and life span.
In addition to night vision binoculars, we also used another equipment – infrared binoculars. Infrared binoculars are instruments that can detect and display the temperature distribution of objects. They work by using infrared detectors to convert infrared radiation emitted by objects into electrical signals, then through image processors to convert electrical signals into color or black-and-white images. The function of infrared binoculars is that they can distinguish the temperature difference between objects under any lighting conditions, thereby judging the nature, state and position of objects. We used a monocular type of infrared binoculars that can be operated with one hand, convenient and fast. How do we use infrared binoculars with night vision binoculars? We first need to choose the appropriate color mode and temperature range according to the body temperature and environmental temperature of animals, then point the infrared binoculars at the area we want to observe, then we can see different colors of images. We can use infrared binoculars to identify the species, number and size of animals, as well as whether they are injured or sick. We can also use infrared binoculars to find some hidden or dangerous objects such as landmines, traps or poisonous snakes. Using infrared binoculars can improve our hunting efficiency and safety.
The process and harvest of hunting at night was very exciting and satisfying. We encountered different animals at different locations in the park, some of which we were familiar with and some of which we had never seen before. We used night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars to conduct effective observation, judgment and shooting, and obtained some precious prey. Here are some of our hunting experiences and results:
Near Dawu Mountain, we found a group of white-necked long-tailed pheasants, which are national second-class protected animals, with beautiful feathers and tails. We used night vision binoculars to see their shape and position, and infrared binoculars to see their body temperature and number. We decided to shoot only one as a souvenir, and let the others go. We shot the largest male with a bow and arrow, which had a tail of 1.5 meters long. We brought it back to the cabin, ready to make it into a specimen.
By the Yunhai Lake, we met a clouded leopard, which is a national first-class protected animal, with gray fur and black spots. We used night vision binoculars to see its eyes and teeth, and infrared binoculars to see its muscles and blood vessels. We knew it was a very dangerous and rare animal, so we didn’t intend to shoot it, just wanted to take some photos. We aimed at its head with night vision binoculars and pressed the shutter. However, the clouded leopard seemed to sense our presence and suddenly rushed towards us. We immediately picked up our firearms and fired a few shots at it. Fortunately, we didn’t hurt it, just scared it away. We breathed a sigh of relief, but also felt a bit of regret.
In the Shilin Canyon, we found some pangolins, which are national second-class protected animals, with hard shells and sharp claws. We couldn’t see their shape clearly with night vision binoculars, but we saw their temperature and movement trajectory with infrared binoculars. We knew they were a very precious and nutritious food, so we wanted to shoot a few to taste. We shot them with firearms, but found that their shells were hard to penetrate. We only hit two of them, and the others ran away. We brought them back to the cabin, ready to make them into soup.
In addition to hunting, we also tasted the local food in Shaoguan, which made us enjoy ourselves. Shaoguan’s cuisine is characterized by lightness, freshness and crispness, with a long history and culture. In the few days we were in Shaoguan, we tasted all kinds of dishes and snacks. Here are some of our food experiences and feelings:
Shaoguan beef rice noodles: This is Shaoguan’s signature dish, which is a soup noodle made with beef, beef bones, rice noodles and various spices. The soup of beef rice noodles is rich but not greasy, the beef is tender but not dry, and the rice noodles are smooth but not broken. We can add chili, garlic paste, vinegar and other seasonings according to our own taste to increase the flavor. We eat a bowl of beef rice noodles every morning as breakfast for our spirit.
Shaoguan sauce duck: This is Shaoguan’s traditional dish, which is a braised dish made with duck, soybean paste, rock sugar and other ingredients. The sauce duck has crispy skin and tender meat, bright color and fragrant aroma. We can cut it into thin slices with a knife, accompanied by peanuts, cilantro and sweet bean sauce, wrapped in lotus leaf pancakes, bite down, full of happiness in our mouth.
Shaoguan tofu pudding: This is Shaoguan’s specialty dessert, which is a tofu made with soy milk, gypsum powder and sugar. The tofu pudding has a soft but not scattered texture, moderate sweetness but not greasy. We can sprinkle sesame seeds, peanuts, osmanthus flowers and other ingredients on the tofu pudding to increase the fragrance and layers. We eat a bowl of tofu pudding every night as a perfect end for dinner.
Our hunting trip in Shaoguan was an unforgettable experience. We not only saw many precious and beautiful animals, but also tasted many authentic and delicious foods. We felt the fun and challenge of hunting at night, as well as enhanced our friendship and memories among us. We had a deeper understanding and feeling of hunting at night, as well as a higher praise and gratitude for Nanling National Forest Park and Shaoguan cuisine. We hope to have the opportunity to come here again to continue exploring and enjoying the nature and culture here. We also hope that you can feel our mood and experience through our article. Maybe one day you can also come here personally and share the fun of hunting at night with us.