I haven't hunted in a long time, but when I did, I always used hearing protection. Any of the shooting ear muffs available at Wal Mart sufficed for me, and in fact, I would usually double up with both muffs and foam ear plugs. Every time you touch off a firearm without it, you're permanently damaging your hearing. The effect is cumulative and, over time, really adds up. What it adds up to is you constantly going: "Huh? What did you say?" Yes, some other hunters might laugh at you for it....but at least you'll be able to hear them laughing.
Seen on a bumper sticker: "Exercise. Eat right. Take vitamins. Die anyway."