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Old January 25, 2012, 11:30 AM   #1
ftballgod
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Do you wear ear plugs while hunting?

This came up in conversation between some friends and I yesterday. I have never worn ear plugs while hunting. I was always taught not to so you could hear possible game coming your way. given the fact you are only going to shoot a handful of times at max it would not matter as much.

My friend however said I was crazy not to wear hearing protection while shooting. He says he will not pull the trigger without some sort of protection.

Over the years I have hunted with rifles and shotguns. All of which I have fired with no problem. With the limited amount of shots and the adrenaline flowing my ears have been fine. This year was different. I tried deer hunting with my new 44mag. After taking 2 shots back to back my ears started ringing and did so for a few days.

After that I think I might use plugs from now on with the handgun. And only go without when using the long guns.

Now back to the question. Do you use plugs?
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Old January 25, 2012, 11:35 AM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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It is foolish to fire any gun without hearing protection but I also did it for years before I knew better.

It doesn't matter if you notice any ringing or not. Loud noises damage your hearing.

With the technology available today, at the price it's available for, there is no reason to not wear hearing protection while hunting.

I have a pair of electronic muffs that actually HELP me hear while hunting and still shield my ears from the blast. They cost $29 and work surprisingly well.

On the top end, you have products like Walkers Game Ear "hearing aid" style protection that even have built in radio capability. They run into the $500 range or more.

Yes, wear protection. Yes, make it electronic. There really is no excuse.
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Old January 25, 2012, 11:50 AM   #3
musher
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I wear a pair of the earplugs on a headband things. Wear them around my neck until ready to take a shot, then I put them in my ears.

Where I hunt, I've never had to take a snap shot, always had time to put on my plugs.

I've tried the electronic muffs, but didn't think the advantages were worth the hassle.
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Old January 25, 2012, 12:41 PM   #4
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It depends. Some may argue with me, but with low-volume shooting, such as elk, it's rare. With squirrels and shotguns, varmint hunting, and if I ever find my butt in a tree stand, I definitely do. If I'm walking through the woods with a .22, I usually don't.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:20 PM   #5
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Historically no, but I may start. My AR is just too loud and I only use it for predators so I may bring my electronic muffs. For some bird hunts too, I should start.

Quote:
With the technology available today, at the price it's available for, there is no reason to not wear hearing protection while hunting.

I have a pair of electronic muffs that actually HELP me hear while hunting and still shield my ears from the blast. They cost $29 and work surprisingly well.

On the top end, you have products like Walkers Game Ear "hearing aid" style protection that even have built in radio capability. They run into the $500 range or more.

I would argue that bulkiness and the hassle of carrying another item are too two good reasons not to wear hearing protection. For big game I need to hear so ear plugs are out, and I'm not going to wear a set of muffs all day. The walker Game ear at $500 is not for everybody although it would be a smart way to go. The noise does damage your hearing, no doubt about it.

For once or twice a year during big game hunts, I'll take the damage like most people do. Not the best for your ears, but really not the end of the world.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:23 PM   #6
joseywales87
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I never wear ear plugs when I hunt. Its usually a one shot, one kill type thing. One shot without plugs doesn't bother me.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:28 PM   #7
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musher
I wear a pair of the earplugs on a headband things. Wear them around my neck until ready to take a shot, then I put them in my ears.

Where I hunt, I've never had to take a snap shot, always had time to put on my plugs.

I've tried the electronic muffs, but didn't think the advantages were worth the hassle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by huntinaz
To each his own, I suppose. Personally, I would find having to put muffs on and off to be far more of a hassle than putting them on and leaving them there. Besides, if you hunt in the cold you need something over your ears anyway.

I would argue that bulkiness and the hassle of carrying another item are too two good reasons not to wear hearing protection. For big game I need to hear so ear plugs are out, and I'm not going to wear a set of muffs all day.
Again, to each his own. I don't personally see any problem with bulkiness or hassle, since I'm not "carrying" them, I'm WEARING them.

Plus, you don't have to wear them all day, necessarily. If they bother your ears you can always take them off for awhile. They've never bothered me and I've worn them for up to 6 hours at a time. My uncle has reported some soreness from a pair that he wears so I understand it varies a bit.

Also, the $500 Walker's are only an example of the highest of the high end. Very similar "hearing aid" style products are available for for less money. Probably under $100
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musher
I wear a pair of the earplugs on a headband things. Wear them around my neck until ready to take a shot, then I put them in my ears.

Where I hunt, I've never had to take a snap shot, always had time to put on my plugs.

I've tried the electronic muffs, but didn't think the advantages were worth the hassle.
To each his own, I suppose. Personally, I would find having to put muffs on and off to be far more of a hassle than putting them on and leaving them there. Besides, if you hunt in the cold you need something over your ears anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by huntinaz

I would argue that bulkiness and the hassle of carrying another item are too two good reasons not to wear hearing protection. For big game I need to hear so ear plugs are out, and I'm not going to wear a set of muffs all day.
Again, to each his own. I don't personally see any problem with bulkiness or hassle, since I'm not "carrying" them, I'm WEARING them.

Plus, you don't have to wear them all day, necessarily. If they bother your ears you can always take them off for awhile. They've never bothered me and I've worn them for up to 6 hours at a time. My uncle has reported some soreness from a pair that he wears so I understand it varies a bit.

Also, the $500 Walker's are only an example of the highest of the high end. Very similar "hearing aid" style products are available for for less money. Probably under $100
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:45 PM   #9
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My hearing is much more important to me than a successful hunt. I wear earplugs every time I pull the trigger....even with the little 22. You can do as you please because it won't be my ears that get damaged. My old man shot skeet for years, hunted all the time, and shot targets frequently with his rifles. He just spent three grand on hearing aids because he could barely participate in a conversation anymore due to his hearing loss. I love to hunt and shoot as much as he did but I choose to not go deaf from my hobby.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:46 PM   #10
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I don't.

But everybody should.

No real excuse not to, really.


Peetza posted twice for the hard-of-reading. LOL
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:46 PM   #11
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Shooting and hearing loss is like taking a 1,000 mile journey. Every time you pull the trigger on a gun it is like taking 1 more step on that 1000 mile journey toward deafness. Wearing hearing protection will still damage your hearing, you are just taking tiny baby steps each time you fire your gun. The louder the gun, with, or without protection, means you are running faster towards deafness.

I'll soon be 54, didn't start wearing any hearing protection until I was in my early 30's. As part of my job before retiring I was required to get a complete physical including a comprehensive hearing test each August. I have had about a 10% hearing loss in my left ear for 30 years, most likely from firing guns with no protection. My right ear, the one farthest from muzzle blast as a right handed shooter was perfect. That is the bad news. The good news is that it has zero effect on my ability to hear anything. I hear normal everyday stuff as good as anybody. What it means is that there are certain tones, that I simply cannot hear at all. If I worked as a musician, or taught music lessons it might be a handicap.

Since my 30's, I've worn protection whenever practical. At the range, always. When dove hunting where I know I'll be shooting, and shooting a lot, yes. For big game hunting, when I'll likely never fire more than 1-2 shots in an entire season, and when I really need to hear to locate game, never.

There is more to my story, but I've got errands to run. Will come back later with another post.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:47 PM   #12
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I do wearem when target shooting or plinking
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:52 PM   #13
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Nothing is worth damaging my hearing, not even a 12 point buck. Once it's gone, you never get it back. Hearing aids aren't the same.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:54 PM   #14
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The most expensive hearing protection costs much less than my hearing aids - I wish I had known that about 55 years ago.
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Old January 25, 2012, 01:57 PM   #15
Single Six
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I haven't hunted in a long time, but when I do, I always wear hearing protection. Keeping my hearing matters more to me than possibly not hearing a deer approach.
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Old January 25, 2012, 02:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
It depends. Some may argue with me, but with low-volume shooting, such as elk, it's rare. With squirrels and shotguns, varmint hunting, and if I ever find my butt in a tree stand, I definitely do. If I'm walking through the woods with a .22, I usually don't.
That pretty much sums it up for me.


And, on a separate note:
If you scroll through this thread and pay attention to where people live, in relation to their preference for hearing protection, you'll notice a trend:
Most of us "out West" don't do it. For 90% (or more) of our hunting situations, we have to remain mobile and we need to hear.
But, members in the Midwest and 'back East' tend to wear protection, because the hunting is more sedentary.
It's a whole lot easier to deal with extra gear when you're sitting in a blind or a stand, than when you're humping that gear on top of a 10,000+ ft mountain ridge. (I know. I've done both.)


For me, it's a trade off:
Am I willing to potentially slightly damage my hearing*, in exchange for comfort and a more successful hunt? About 95% of the time, the answer is 'yes'. The other 5% of the time, I have ear plugs with me, and I have time to put them in before I fire a shot.

If I'm not hunting, I always wear protection. Usually, I double up with plugs and muffs.


*The amount of damage caused by a single shot or set of 2 shots, while hunting, is debatable. I've read several studies that discuss the thresholds for permanent damage, the recovery periods required to prevent damage ("healing" over night, for example), and the opinions of many auditory specialists on the matter. Even the "experts" can't agree that 1-2 shots on a big game hunt will cause any permanent hearing loss, unless you have a pre-existing condition. Until I find an article with a definitive answer, I'll have to keep deciding. That may never happen, though. We all know that hunting locales and conditions vary wildly across the U.S. The potential for hearing damage in a tight grove of aspen trees is far greater than the potential in an open corn field.
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Old January 25, 2012, 02:59 PM   #17
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^^^^^^

Exactly. I agree that wearing ears is great if you want to do it, but often times it is more trouble than it's worth in my opinion. For my applications, anyway.

I think a game-ear type product is probably a very smart thing to do, and would be a good thing to look into.
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Old January 25, 2012, 04:20 PM   #18
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I personally wouldn't mind springing for a nice pair of combo enhancement/safety ear muffs if it wasn' so darned hot where I hunt. Any muffs at all and your ears will just sweat off except on the rare days when the temperature actually drops to "hunting weather". It is 80 degrees this afternoon and it's Jan 25th.

I would love to have the in-the-ear Game Ear alternative, but I just can't afford to drop $500 like that. It seems like someone would come up with a cheaper alternative. Heck, I'd be happy if they would come up with an affordable in-the-ear hearing protection without any enhancement. They make muffs with that feature - why not ear buds?
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Old January 25, 2012, 04:22 PM   #19
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doyle
I would love to have the in-the-ear Game Ear alternative, but I just can't afford to drop $500 like that. It seems like someone would come up with a cheaper alternative. Heck, I'd be happy if they would come up with an affordable in-the-ear hearing protection without any enhancement. They make muffs with that feature - why not ear buds?
There are a number of in the ear options for far less than $500. I bought a set several years ago made by Radians that are "Behind the Ear" hearing aid style that were like $40 on eBay. Retail price is much higher but they're on eBay cheap all the time.

They look like this:

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Old January 25, 2012, 04:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
There are a number of in the ear options for far less than $500. I bought a set several years ago made by Radians that are "Behind the Ear" hearing aid style that were like $40 on eBay. Retail price is much higher but they're on eBay cheap all the time.

They look like this:
You like them? Are they holding up?
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Old January 25, 2012, 04:47 PM   #21
Brian Pfleuger
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They've held up fine but I don't like the ear plug part very much. It's soft plastic and feels funny in my ear especially when I'm sweaty, which is when I don't want the muffs. I very much prefer the foam ear plug style that Walkers uses on their similar product. I have considered looking for a way to retrofit the Radians unit with a Walkers style plug but I've never gotten around to it. Usually when I hunt in warm weather (woodchucks) I just wear plugs and take one out if I want to talk.
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Old January 25, 2012, 04:58 PM   #22
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I don't wear formal hearing protection but wear $5,000 hearing aides that "cut out" when the sound is too loud. So in effect I'm wearing hearing protection....

I think the Walker Game Ears and similar work like this...

BTW, my hearing loss did not come from shooting guns or listening to loud music. I had a form of arthritis in my spine years ago and the only drug (Indocin) that would "reach" it and keep me from being crippled causes the little hairs in your ears to "die" in 1% of the users. I was one of them. It was lose my hearing or walk in my old age all bent up. Not a good choice.

I hope those young people that wear hearing protection during hunting also take care when listening to music in their cars. When this young generation gets my age there's going to be a hearing loss epidemic! Being deaf I hear their music when they're a block away with the car windows closed!

Just don't tell the wolves and cougar on our leased land that I can't hear them sneaking up behind me or I'll be an easy meal for them!!

Last edited by warbirdlover; January 25, 2012 at 05:09 PM.
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Old January 25, 2012, 05:31 PM   #23
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While deer hunting? No.

Target shooting, skeet, pistol range, plinking with a .22lr, sure.

If I duck hunted or dove hunted, or anywhere I might fire or hear fired multiple shots, sure.
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Old January 25, 2012, 06:59 PM   #24
Cowboy_mo
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I use electronic muffs while hunting.

Two years ago I developed tinnitus and it definitely isn't fun. The ENT doc told me that I have some hearing loss and that the tinnitus would never go away.

When target shooting, we have always used hearing protection but never used anything while hunting. I don't totally blame the shooting because like many I have worked in noisy factories and used chain saws and other equipment without hearing protection until about 10 years ago.

My Walker's muffs improve my hearing of game while hunting and protect my ears when it is time to shoot. They also make excellent ear warmers when hunting during the winter
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Old January 25, 2012, 07:01 PM   #25
rickyrick
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90% of my hunting successes are because I heard the animal coming, 97% of my hunting is at night. Pigs and varmints.

I have always had excellent hearing, so, I may not have noticed any damage done by hunting without hearing protection.

I use my hearing to my advantage and position myself near hay covered ground or other such items.

I am grateful for the fact that my hearing is still good. I have always been exposed to high noise industrial environments plus several years in the army.
I would be terrified you hunt in the dark with bad hearing.
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