I and Humphrey Mansfield, Wright Walton are good friends from college. We are all nature and adventure lovers, and often participate in various outdoor activities together, such as hiking, climbing, diving, etc. We have different majors and interests, but we all regard each other as confidants, sharing our dreams and puzzles. After graduation, we went our separate ways, engaged in different professions. Humphrey became a lawyer, Wright became a programmer, and I became a journalist. Due to the busy work and life, we gradually lost contact, only occasionally liking or commenting on each other on social media. Until last month, an accidental thing brought us back together.
It was a sunny weekend, I was bored at home brushing my phone, and suddenly received a video call from Humphrey. I was surprised to answer it and saw his smiling face. He said he had just returned from China, attended an international legal conference, and visited some places along the way. He saw a lot of beautiful and magical scenery in China, among which the most impressive was Changde Jiashan National Forest Park in Hunan Province. There is an ancient temple there, where the Chongzhen Emperor of the Ming Dynasty is buried, and there is also a well that is said to be the jade seal given to the Chongzhen Emperor by the Ming Taizu Zhu Yuanzhang. There are also various interesting activities such as the origin of tea ceremony, forest scenery, night hunting experience, etc. He said he spent an unforgettable two days there and took a lot of photos and videos.
I was stunned and filled with curiosity and longing. I asked him what night hunting was. He said it was a special local tourism project where you can observe and track wild animals at night with night vision binoculars and shoot them with air guns or bows and arrows. It was a very exciting and fun experience. He also said he used infrared binoculars to discover some wonderful sights hidden in the dark, such as fluorescent plants, glowing insects, mysterious caves, etc. He said those things could not be seen with ordinary eyes or cameras, only with special equipment.
I listened with my heart beating faster, feeling as if I were also in that magical world. I asked him if he would share some photos and videos with me. He said of course he could and sent me the content he had taken. I opened a video file and saw Humphrey wearing camouflage clothes, walking quietly in the forest under the night sky. He held night vision binoculars in his hand and stopped from time to time to observe the surroundings. Suddenly, he spotted a wild boar gnawing at the roots of a tree. He immediately took out an air gun, aimed at its head, and gently pulled the trigger. There was a slight sound, and the wild boar fell to the ground without moving. Humphrey ran over excitedly, dragged the wild boar aside, took a few photos with his phone, and then continued to move forward. I watched intently, feeling like I was adventuring with him.
I couldn’t help sending him a message saying he was awesome and I wanted to try night hunting too. Unexpectedly, he replied that he had a plan and wanted to invite me and Wright to go to Changde Jiashan National Forest Park again. He said he had contacted a local travel agency, arranged a professional guide and driver, and prepared enough equipment and food. He said he had already bought tickets from the United States to China, just waiting for us two to agree before leaving. He said this was a rare opportunity that we must seize. He said this was a reunion night hunting trip where we could find our friendship and adventure again.
I looked at his message and felt my blood boiling. I immediately called Wright and told him the situation. Wright was also very excited and said he hadn’t seen us for a long time and wanted to go to China to see it. He said he could take a few days off and go with us to Changde Jia Mountain National Forest Park for night hunting. I happily agreed and told Humphrey our decision. Humphrey was very happy and said he would send us the detailed itinerary and precautions, and asked us to prepare our luggage and visa as soon as possible. In this way, the three of us, good friends from college, started our reunion night hunting trip last month.
Duck King is a famous snack in Changde, Hunan Province, belonging to the Hunan cuisine. It is made by the eighth generation of Jiangnan brine family using ancestral secret recipe and traditional craftsmanship, combined with modern scientific formula, and carefully prepared with more than 30 kinds of precious Chinese herbal medicines. It is one of the most characteristic snacks. Duck King has a unique taste, with two flavors of mild spicy and heavy spicy. Its duck head, duck neck, duck feet, duck wings, duck kidney, duck liver and other brine products are bright and natural in color, tender and refreshing in taste, good in moisture retention, long in shelf life, both satisfying the taste buds and nourishing the body. When making it, it smells fragrant all over the street, appetizing, delicious, praised after tasting, never tired of eating, endless aftertaste, old and young, officials and common people, everyone loves to eat, spicy, fragrant, fresh and tender characteristics are outstanding.
The production method of Duck King is not complicated, but it requires some skills and experience. First of all, you need to choose old water duck, remove the viscera and blanch it in water, then put it in a brine pot and cook for 2 hours and set aside. The brine should be seasoned with brine bag (star anise, cinnamon, clove, grass fruit, etc.) and salt. The concentration and temperature of the brine should be well controlled to make the duck tasty and not fishy. Then cut the water duck into 3 cm square pieces and fry them in oil until golden brown and crispy. When frying, pay attention to the heat and time, do not over-fry or under-cook. Finally, stir-fry dried chili segments and sesame seeds until fragrant, then add oyster sauce, chicken essence, monosodium glutamate, spicy sister (a kind of chili sauce), soy sauce, salt, wine, green onion and other seasonings to stir-fry until fragrant. Cover it on the duck pieces with cilantro leaves. The Duck King made in this way is crispy outside and tender inside, suitable for all seasons.
Duck King is a traditional delicacy of Changde people and also a name card of Changde. It has won many provincial and national awards and honors. On July 12th 2013, the former General Administration of Quality Supervision approved the implementation of geographical indication product protection for “Changde Sauce Duck”. This means that the brand value of Changde Sauce Duck has been recognized and guaranteed by the national level. Changde municipal government also actively promotes the industrialization development of Changde Sauce Duck, creating a brand of Changde characteristic snacks. At present, there are nearly 100 enterprises and individual households specializing in Changde Sauce Duck production and processing in Changde City, with an annual output value of hundreds of millions of yuan. Changde City also holds “China · Changde · Wuling Mountain International Food Culture Festival” every year, showing the unique charm of Changde food culture.
In short, Duck King is a delicacy with rich local characteristics and historical and cultural connotations. It is not only the eating habit of Changde people, but also the spiritual symbol of Changde people. The development of Duck King is also the development of Changde’s economy and culture, as well as the bridge for Changde’s external communication and cooperation. Duck King is worth cherishing and inheriting.
We set off from the United States and after more than ten hours of flight, we finally arrived in Beijing, the capital of China. We transferred in Beijing and took another two-hour flight to Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan Province. We were picked up by a tour guide and driver arranged by the travel agency at Changsha airport and got on a comfortable business car, starting our trip to Changde. Along the way, we enjoyed the scenery of Hunan’s mountains and rivers, and felt the folk customs of western Hunan. We also chatted with the guide on the car about a lot of stories and legends about Changde Jia Mountain National Forest Park, which increased our expectation and curiosity.
About four hours later, we arrived in Changde city and checked into a four-star hotel. We rested for a while in the hotel, then went out to look for local food. The guide recommended a snack shop called “Duck King”, saying that their sauce duck is a characteristic snack of Changde, very delicious. We followed the guide’s instructions and soon found the shop. The shop was not big, but the business was very booming, and there was a long queue at the door. We were not polite and joined the queue, waiting for the opportunity to taste Duck King. Finally, it was our turn, we ordered several portions of duck head, duck neck, duck feet, duck wings and other brine products, as well as some rice and cold dishes. We found an empty seat and sat down, starting to enjoy this rich lunch.
I tasted Duck King for the first time and felt very amazing. It looked bright and oily on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, melted in the mouth, moderately spicy and fragrant, and had an endless aftertaste. I ate one bite after another, feeling as if I had entered a delicious paradise. I saw Humphrey and Wright also eating with relish, praising and complimenting from time to time. We ate very happily, as if we were back in the cafeteria of college. We chatted while eating, talking about each other’s work and life, as well as some interesting anecdotes. We found that although we had been apart for so long, our friendship had not faded, but rather deepened.
After lunch, we went back to the hotel and rested for an afternoon to prepare for the night hunting in the evening. The guide told us that night hunting would start at eight o’clock in the evening, in Jia Mountain National Forest Park. He said night hunting was a very special and exciting experience that required attention to safety and rules. He said night hunting required using night vision binoculars to observe and track wild animals, and using air guns or bows and arrows to shoot them. He said night vision binoculars were devices that could see objects clearly in the dark. They used infrared or low-light amplifiers to enhance visual effects. He said night vision binoculars had different types and grades, depending on the price and performance. He said he had prepared the best night vision binoculars for us, which could let us see more details and colors. He also said he had prepared infrared binoculars for us, which were devices that could see infrared rays. They could let us discover some wonderful sights hidden in the dark, such as fluorescent plants, glowing bugs, mysterious caves, etc. He said these things could not be seen with ordinary eyes or cameras, only with special devices.
We listened to the guide’s introduction and felt very excited and looking forward to it. We couldn’t wait to start our night hunting trip. We left the hotel at seven thirty in the evening, got on the off-road vehicle arranged by the travel agency, and drove towards Jia Mountain National Forest Park. Along the way, we saw the night view of Changde city, bright lights, bustling. We also saw some rural scenes, idyllic, peaceful. We felt the diversity and charm of China. About half an hour later, we arrived at the entrance of Jia Mountain National Forest Park, met our night hunting guide. He was a middle-aged man, strong, serious. He greeted us, then gave us night vision binoculars, infrared binoculars, air guns, bows and arrows. He told us how to use this equipment, and reminded us of safety and rules. He said night hunting was a close contact with nature and life, not for killing or destroying, but for experiencing and appreciating. He said night hunting should respect animals’ right to live, not shoot or hurt them at will. He said night hunting should protect environment’s cleanliness and beauty, not litter or damage vegetation. He said night hunting should abide by law and morality, not offend taboos or gods. He said night hunting should have courage and wisdom, not panic or greedy. He said night hunting should have fun and insight, not boring or empty.
We listened to the guide’s explanation, agreed. We followed him into Jia Mountain National Forest Park, started our reunion night hunting trip.
Our night hunting trip lasted for three nights, during which we experienced countless thrilling and interesting scenes. We used night vision binoculars to observe various wild animals, such as foxes, rabbits, deer, monkeys, squirrels, etc., sometimes shooting them with air guns or bows and arrows, but lightly scratching them, letting them escape. We used infrared binoculars to discover some wonderful sights hidden in the dark, such as fluorescent plants, glowing bugs, mysterious caves, etc., which opened our eyes and felt the magic and beauty of nature. We also encountered some exciting and funny events, such as meeting beasts, getting lost in fog, finding ancient tombs, meeting natives, etc., which made us scared and full of exploration and adventure.
We found back our friendship. Walking together in the forest at night, sharing stories and feelings, helping and encouraging each other, just like college days. During the day, we visited Chengde’s history and culture, enjoyed Chengde’s scenery and food, felt Changde’s charm and enthusiasm, just like travelers. In this trip, we not only saw a different country and place, but also saw a different self and each other.
Our night hunting trip made us have more awe and gratitude for nature and life. We realized how spectacular and mysterious nature was, how precious and diverse life was. We realized that humans were part of nature, not the master of nature. Humans should live in harmony with nature, not fight or destroy nature; cherish and protect nature, not waste or pollute nature; respect and appreciate life, not cruel or greedy to life.
In short, our night hunting trip was an unforgettable experience, we gained friendship, adventure, knowledge, fun, insight and many other things. It also made us have a deeper impression and love for Changde Jia Mountain National Forest Park. Thank you very much for the service and help of the guide and driver, as well as the arrangement and recommendation of the travel agency. Hope to have the opportunity to come to Changde Jia Mountain National Forest Park again, and hope more people can come to Changde Jia Mountain National Forest Park to experience night hunting trip. This is a travel project worth trying, and a travel story worth remembering for life.