Hunter's hearing protection improves his odds

People at shooting ranges always wear hearing protection – in fact, they are often required to. And with good reason. One blast can hit your ears with 140 dB of sound each time you pull the trigger, and we know that any sound over 85 dB can permanently damage your hearing.

But hunters don’t always take the same precautions on the hunt as they do at the range. And too often, they end up paying the price for it.

What Is Shooter’s Ear?

According to a spokesperson for a major hearing aid manufacturer, there is a name for the hearing loss hunters experience from their sport: Shooter’s Ear.

Hearing aid manufacturers gets phone calls and letters every day from hunters who wish they had been more vigilant about hearing protection at a younger age.

But it’s understandable why hunters in the past were reluctant to use hearing protection. Traditional earplugs wouldn’t let them hear the sounds they rely on for their sport.

The Sounds Of Hunting

Hunters need to hear the wings of the pheasant or the snapping of twigs made by a deer in the brush. This is what kept hunters away from hearing protection, because they were worried about missing these sounds – and these sounds are what make hunting possible.

But not protecting your hearing as a hunter could jeopardize one of your most valuable hunting resources – your hearing.

Repeated Shots Can Damage Your Hearing

And while one shot at 140 dB may not do permanent damage, repeated shots, on repeated hunting trips, can result in irreversible damage to your hearing. Bird hunters who shoot multiple rounds a day are at especially high risk. And the blast from the guns of fellow hunters can affect your ears as much as the blast from your own gun.

Robert L. is a hunter who shared his experiences with hearing protection while on the hunt.

“When hunting wild turkeys, I would often put in earplugs before I expected to take a shot. But I’d remove them again when I was moving around and setting up, so I could hear the turkeys around me and know where exactly to set up for the next shot. Many times, a turkey would come out of the bush unexpectedly, and I’d get the opportunity to shoot before I had my earplugs in again. And I took it. Even though I tried to use earplugs, I took many shots without even having them in my ears.”

Don’t Take Chances With Your Hearing

Today’s technology makes it unnecessary to take chances with your hearing the way Robert did. You can now get electronic earmuffs that allow you to hear conversations like normal, but they instantly supress the sound of a gunshot.

These devices can bring loud noise like gunshots down to a safer level, while still being able to hear conversations, the rustling of the brush in the woods and even the flapping of wings.

Small Devices Give Big Protection

If bulky earmuffs aren't what you had in mind, there are smaller options available. A device the size of an earplug can now provide the same advanced protection of electronic earmuffs.

In-the-canal models are ready to use right out of the box, and fit the ear like standard earplugs. Your audiologist can also make you a custom pair using an impression of your ear for a perfect fit.

Robert has tried both the in-the-canal and the custom earplugs, and notes that they both provided excellent protection against the blast from a gunshot.

The biggest difference between these new electronic hearing protectors and regular earplugs is that with the new devices, you can hear everything besides the gunshot much better.

Hear The Hunt While Protecting Your Ears

Robert says that one of the biggest problems with hunters is that they tell themselves they’ll only take a few shots, so it probably won’t affect their hearing. But it does. “Kids who are out hunting with their parents don't wear hearing protection if their parents don’t,” says Robert. “Their ears are very susceptible to this kind of damage – and they learn from the adults around them. It’s never too early to learn about hearing protection on the hunt.”

A Hunter’s Regret

Robert knows first-hand the damage that can come from not protecting your ears while hunting.

“I can no longer hear the rushing of the river in the woods, the wind in the trees or the call of a bird. These are the sounds that made me love being in the woods so much, and now they are lost to me.”

“I would tell any hunter – young or old – to buy electronic protection devices for their sport. They allow you to communicate, hear the sounds around you, and still protect your ears from the muzzle blasts. They will keep you safe in the woods, and let you enjoy all the sounds of your sport for years to come. You have nothing to lose – except your hearing.”