When I was in college, I had two good friends, Primo Church and Oswald Wolf. We three lived in the same dormitory, studied and played together, and were inseparable. We all liked hunting, and often went to the surrounding mountains and forests to look for prey, enjoying the close contact with nature. After graduation, we went our separate ways, and rarely had a chance to meet again. Last month, I received a phone call from Primo, who said he wanted to go hunting with me and Oswald at Xiandao Lake Ecotourism Scenic Area in Huangshi, Hubei, China, to experience different customs and hunting methods. I agreed without hesitation, as this was a rare opportunity, both to relive the old friendship and to broaden my horizons and increase my knowledge. So, we agreed on the time and place, prepared the necessary equipment, and started our trip to Xiandao Lake.
Xiandao Lake is a natural scenic spot in Huangshi City, Hubei Province, China. It is located in Daye City, about 40 kilometers away from Huangshi City. Xiandao Lake is an artificial lake. Because of the construction of the Xiandao Lake Water Conservancy Hub Project, the original small river became a lake with an area of 200 square kilometers. Xiandao Lake is named after the 1088 islands of different sizes in the lake. These islands have different shapes, some like animals, some like people, some like utensils, forming a beautiful picture. Xiandao Lake is known as one of the “three major thousand-island lakes in the world”, comparable to Qiandao Lake in Hangzhou and Thousand Islands Lake in Canada.
Xiandao Lake has beautiful scenery and distinct seasons. In spring, the lake is rippling with blue waves, the islands are fragrant with flowers, and hundreds of flowers vie for beauty; in summer, the lake and mountains reflect each other, the islands are shaded by green trees, and the breeze comes gently; in autumn, the lake is sparkling with waves, the islands are full of red leaves, like fire and rosy clouds; in winter, the lake is cold and biting, the islands are covered with white snow, and silver-clad. Xiandao Lake has a beautiful ecological environment and is a natural zoo and botanical garden. There are various resources such as fish, waterfowl, aquatic plants in the lake, and various wild animals, rare plants, strange stone scenery on the island. Xiandao Lake also has many cultural attractions, such as Fairy Cave, Turtle Mountain Temple, Dragon King Temple, ancient battlefield, etc., all have legendary stories and historical marks.
We rented a car in Huangshi City and drove along Highway 318 to Xiandao Lake. Along the way we enjoyed the cityscape of Huangshi City and the rural scenery, felt the local cultural atmosphere and folk customs. We arrived at Xiandao Lake Scenic Area in the afternoon. After buying tickets we entered the scenic area. We first took a boat tour around the lake, watching the features and characteristics of each island, feeling the charm and change of the lake and mountains. We took many photos and videos on the boat to record our happy time. After getting off the boat we walked to some of the more famous attractions such as Fairy Cave and Turtle Mountain Temple. We visited their internal structure and external decoration and listened to the guide’s explanation and introduction. We expressed our admiration and respect for these attractions and felt the profoundness and charm of Chinese traditional culture.
Hunting at night is an exciting and dangerous activity that requires professional equipment and skills to find and catch prey in the dark, while ensuring your own safety. We three are experienced hunters, so we prepared some essential equipment, such as night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars.
Night vision binoculars are instruments that can observe objects in low-light conditions. They use the principle of photoelectric conversion to amplify the weak ambient light by thousands of times, making the human eye see what it can’t see normally. Night vision binoculars have different generations and types, according to their performance and price, they can be divided into first generation, second generation, third generation, fourth generation, etc. We chose the third-generation night vision binoculars, because they have high resolution, high sensitivity, high reliability and other advantages, and can clearly observe objects under moonlight or starlight.
Infrared binoculars are instruments that can observe objects in complete darkness. They use the principle of thermal imaging to convert the infrared radiation emitted by objects into visible light images, making the human eye see the temperature difference that it can’t see normally. Infrared binoculars have different resolutions and distance ranges, according to their performance and price, they can be divided into low-end, mid-end, high-end, etc. We chose the high-end infrared binoculars, because they have high definition, high contrast, high accuracy and other advantages, and can accurately identify objects in haze or rain and snow.
We left the scenic area in the evening and drove to a forest near Xiandao Lake. We stopped the car in a hidden place, took out our night vision binoculars and infrared binoculars, and started our night hunting trip.
The process of hunting at night is a contest with wild animals. It requires keen observation skills, accurate judgment skills, quick reaction skills and good team cooperation. We three are experienced hunters, so we have our own division of labor and strategy when hunting at night, cooperating with each other and supporting each other.
We first used night vision binoculars to look for possible prey in the forest, such as rabbits, pheasants, ducks, etc. The scene we saw in the night vision binoculars was green, because the night vision binoculars amplified the weak ambient light and converted it into green electronic signals. We adjusted the magnification and focus distance of the night vision binoculars to clearly observe the movement in the forest. We had to avoid the interference of light sources when observing, such as moonlight, stars, car lights, etc., because they would make the night vision binoculars oversaturated and affect the observation effect. When we found prey, we quickly notified our teammates, determined the position and direction of the prey, then quietly approached the prey and prepared to shoot.
We also used infrared binoculars to identify and track prey in the forest, such as wild boars, deer, wolves, etc. The scene we saw in the infrared binoculars was colorful, because the infrared binoculars converted the infrared radiation emitted by objects into different colors of visible light images. We adjusted the resolution and distance range of the infrared binoculars to accurately identify and track the temperature difference in the forest. We had to distinguish the infrared features of different objects when identifying and tracking, such as animals, plants, water bodies, rocks, etc., because they would show different colors and shapes. When we locked on the prey, we quickly notified our teammates, determined the distance and angle of the prey, then stabilized the aim and prepared to shoot.
We finally used rifles to shoot and catch prey in the forest. We used semi-automatic rifles that could fire multiple bullets continuously, increasing the shooting efficiency and power. We had to control the recoil and trajectory deviation of the rifle when shooting, as well as pay attention to the safety of the surrounding environment. We had to check whether the prey was dead or injured when catching it, as well as prevent other animals from attacking or snatching it. We had to stay calm and composed when shooting and catching, not panic or make mistakes or get too excited.
We experienced many thrilling and exciting moments in night hunting, and also harvested many precious and delicious prey. We used night vision binoculars to find a group of pheasants, and caught them all before they noticed us. We used infrared binoculars to lock on a deer, and shot it down before it ran away. We also used rifles to shoot a wolf, and killed it with one shot before it fought back. We loaded this prey on the car and prepared to take them back to enjoy. We were very satisfied and proud of our hunting results, and also very confident and proud of our hunting skills.
We stayed at a farmhouse near Xiandao Lake, ready to return to Huangshi City the next day. We tasted the local specialties at the farmhouse, which made us enjoy ourselves very much, and also made us more impressed by Xiandao Lake. We ate dishes such as sweet potato noodles with meat, golden bull thousand sheets, golden bull twisted doughnuts, etc., which were all made from Xiandao Lake’s specialty – golden bull grass. Golden bull grass is a kind of aquatic plant that grows in the water of Xiandao Lake. It has high nutritional and medicinal value. Golden bull grass can be processed into noodles, thousand sheets, twisted doughnuts and other foods, which taste delicious and have a unique texture.
Sweet potato noodles with meat are dish made with sweet potato noodles and pork. Sweet potato noodles are thin noodles made from golden bull grass powder and starch. When stir-frying, add chili, garlic, ginger and other seasonings to make it spicy and delicious, soft and smooth. Sweet potato noodles with meat are famous dish in the Xiandao Lake area, and also one of the staple foods of the local people.
Golden bull thousand sheets are a thin slice-shaped food made from golden bull grass powder and starch. It can be eaten cold or boiled in soup. When cold, add vinegar, oil, salt, sesame and other seasonings to make it sour and sweet, crisp and transparent; when boiled in soup, add meatballs, spinach, cilantro and other ingredients to make it fragrant and nutritious, slippery and delicious. Golden bull thousand sheets are specialty snack in the Xiandao Lake area, and also one of the breakfasts of the local people.
Golden bull twisted doughnuts are strip-shaped foods made from golden bull grass powder and flour. They can be fried or steamed. When fried, add white sugar, peanut crumbs and other ingredients to make them sweet and crispy, crispy outside and tender inside; when steamed, add red dates, wolfberries and other ingredients to make them soft and sweet, nourishing and healthy. Golden bull twisted doughnuts are a traditional dessert in the Xiandao Lake area, and also one of the festive dishes of the local people.
We praised these delicacies very much, feeling that they not only tasted good, but also had high nutrition and were good for health. We also learned from the owner of the farmhouse about the production methods and historical stories of these delicacies, feeling the wisdom and culture of the local people.
Our trip to Xiandao Lake gave us a lot of gains. We not only appreciated the beauty and food of Xiandao Lake, but also experienced the fun and challenge of hunting at night. We were deeply impressed and had good memories of Xiandao Lake, and also had more understanding and skills of night hunting. The most important thing is that through this trip we relived the old friendship and affection among classmates, enhanced our understanding and trust of each other, and felt the warmth and support among classmates. We agreed to come to Xiandao Lake again next time, continue our hunting trip, and also hope that more people can come to Xiandao Lake to feel its charm and beauty.