I just completed the region 12 hunting series and trophy hunts without using infrared.
I passed on the gold only rifle because I didn't like the one time price of 600 gold and bought the standard hunter bucks rifle. I used the region 12 assault rifle on multiple kill hunts for a while, but somewhere around hunt # 25 the assault rifle didn't have the stopping power anymore. So, I completed the rest of the hunts with the hunter bucks rifle.
Completing all of the hunts without using infrared was a lot more challenging, and exciting. Unfortunately, I didn't keep track of how many failed hunts it took to complete everything. I'll keep track of that in region 13.
If anyone out there is looking for a good challenge, I suggest you try this in the next region. Maybe we could have a contest to see who can do it with the least amount of failed hunts. It's been a long time since I felt excitement and challenge that I felt in this region. I really enjoyed it. Happy hunting!!!