View Full Version : Hunting hearing protection

Big Yac
May 18, 2005, 01:33 AM
I got a .454 Casull which I am going to use for deer season this year. All I do with it now is target shoot/practice with it and ofcourse I always have hearing protection, actually last month while shooting it I took my left ear plug out to hear a friend say something. I went back and took a shot and wow did my ear hurt, it rang for like an hour or two. Anyways, people tell me to wear hearing protection while hunting too. What kind of hearing protection is good for hunting use? Ofcourse I dont want to be moving around the forest with ear plugs in and not being able to hear. I have seen some plugs that let you hear what people say but automatically tune out loud sounds above a certain dB range. Any suggestions?

May 18, 2005, 08:42 AM
I don't wear hearing protection while hunting,you will be losing one of your senses,I don't advicate shooting without hearing protection but one shot isn't going to kill you.I don't recall ever hearing a shot that was fired at game.I did wear ear plugs while shooting praire dogs and damn near stepped on a rattle snake. I now hunt dogs with a 22 hornet and no plugs....

May 18, 2005, 09:49 AM
I disagree. One shot, a whole bunch of different times, can give you hearing loss and tinitus over time - hell even just one shot from a big boomer can do that, as I understand things. I simply wear some of those standard soft rubber plugs, but I wear them only about half-way stuck in, so that I can still hear the sounds of the forest - plenty well actually, but it partially blocks gun blasts - enough to save your ears. Sometimes I will put the plug on my right side (closest to the gun's receiver) in about 3/4ths of the way, so to speak, with the left ear only 1/3 to 1/2 way in, for better picking up sounds of game, etc., with that ear. Another option is to wear electronic muffs that magnify normal sound but muffle blasts over 85 db. The drawback to these however (in addition to expense), is that they become uncomfortable to wear after a couple of hours. So I recommend the plugs, part-way in. Oh, with rimfires outdoors (hunting, not target shooting), I don't wear hearing protection. If you don't use protection for centerfires however, then when you're hunting as an old man, you'll have nearly completely lost one of your senses, with nothing you can do about it - not to mention that your wife, kids and grandkids will get tired of you saying "what?" alla time.

May 18, 2005, 10:16 AM
I would never hunt while wearing earplugs, especially in any public hunting grounds. I am more worried about getting out of the woods at the end of the day safe and sound rather than worry about what may or may not happen 25 years down the road.

May 18, 2005, 10:56 AM
There are electronic hearing protection devices which still allow normal (or even enhanced) hearing while blocking noises loud enough to cause damage. Some of these are becoming quite reasonable and can be had on sale for virtually the same price as a pair of quality muffs.

Capt. Charlie
May 18, 2005, 11:54 AM
I was a Navy Gunner's Mate in the late 60's early 70's and specialized in 5 inch guns. The Navy didn't believe in hearing protection then, and I paid for it. :( Trust me guys; protect your hearing at all costs.

Terry Twit
May 18, 2005, 12:06 PM

Smokey Joe
May 18, 2005, 12:57 PM
Another thought: You MIGHT run into a legal problem re using electronic amplification while hunting. But I too would not think of going hunting with my ears covered--if game doesn't sneak by me I'd worry all the time about being snuck up on by a trigger-happy human.

My solution is to not wear hearing protection while hunting, though always now @ the range--tried the range ONCE w/o protection to see what it was like and couldn't concentrate on my shots due to the noise. And my ears rang for days afterwards.

I've abused my ears for years: Was a soccer referee for several summers, and guess who gets the MOST effect from the ref's Acme Thunderer??? After a Saturday session (2-4 games of soccer) my ears would ring until about the following Thursday. A ref can't have earplugs; wouldn't be able to hear players' comments or captains' questions. (Not to mention snide comments from the sidelines, which I always promptly put a stop to.) And a ref can't be shy when blowing the whistle. Then for a short time was a pyrotechnician for a fireworks company; used hearing protection of course but after several hundred close-range THUMPS and BANGS your ears ring anyhow.

Now I'm past my middle-age crisis, and have developed a well-earned case of tinnitis. It isn't bad, really, just this constant "wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" that no one else can hear--but the important thing is that whenever my ears have something real to do, they do that instead of the wheee.

My conclusion would be that protecting your ears is important, and to the best extent you can do so under the circumstances. The younger you are, the more important it is. Note to guys in their 20's: Stay away from the rock concerts, and turn your durn car stereos 'way down! You guys have the most to lose, and the longest to go with the tinnitis if/when it sets in.

Our cave-man ancestors didn't have any loud noises to be concerned with other than the occasional roar from a saber-toothed tiger; therefore we are hard-wired to have our ears bare and listen to our environment.

May 18, 2005, 03:12 PM
I use my wolf ears.

As for laws about wearing hearing protection while hunting is just pure dumb. The electronic muffs allow for normal (and yes, somewhat enhanced) hearing without losing your hearing.


Terry Twit
May 18, 2005, 03:48 PM
With amplified hearing protection, no one is going to sneak up on you.

May 18, 2005, 07:08 PM
I have serious hearing damage. I don't shoot unless I have at least plugs in, including hunting. No animal is worth losing any more of my hearing. I keep the plugs handy, and put them in if/when I anticipate a shot or see game.

I lost a noticable amount of hearing from one shot while hunting. This, on top of my previous loss, is not something I care to repeat.

I don't seem to be blessed with the "don't hear the shot when hunting" phenomenon. I hear the shot, and DANG!!!! does it hurt!!!!

Norton or Lee used to have some ear plugs that were rubber with small valves in them that were supposed to close when loud noises happened. The theory was you could hear "normally", but have protection when a shot was fired etc. I had some, but they didin't seem to close reliably. I ended up blocking them and using them like regular plugs.

May 18, 2005, 09:10 PM
ummm nothing? its only one shot if you are deer hunting. :D

Terry Twit
May 18, 2005, 09:21 PM
The Aearo combat arms earplug would work for you guys too.

Dave Haven
May 18, 2005, 09:52 PM
I've taken one shot at a big game animal without ear protection. (A .338 with a muzzle brake) I heard a thump when the rifle went off and a CRACK when the bullet hit the elk. My ears rang for several minutes. I now wear foam ear plugs loosely inserted (or properly inserted with electronic muffs over my ears). You don't get used to the noise; you get DEAF.
When hunting prairie dogs, I always protect my ears.

May 18, 2005, 11:00 PM
Sure seems like those that have BTDT, of a wiser vintage, are recomending use something - I'd listen to them.

Smokey Joe
May 18, 2005, 11:24 PM
Terry--Could you enlighten us further about this Aearo combat ear plug please?

Big Yac
May 19, 2005, 01:21 AM
well I definately will have some sort of hearing protection while hunting. I'm in my early 20's and have a gift of some really good hearing which I dont want to ruin. I was thinking too of having ear muffs around my neck that when I see my game could then slide on really quick.

Terry Twit
May 19, 2005, 06:31 AM

Capt. Charlie
May 19, 2005, 12:27 PM
In a pinch, cigarette filters work well if you smoke. Had to shoot a sick raccoon the other day and didn't have protection with me, so I ripped the filters off of a couple of Marlboro and stuffed 'em in my ears. Worked great!

May 19, 2005, 03:36 PM
I second those aearo plugs. The only consideration is that the end sticks out so you can't wear muffs over them.

May 20, 2005, 01:50 AM
My uncle swears by the Walker Quad Muffs. Enhanced hearing with directional sound and a noise reduction rating of 24dB. I just bought a pair and plan to use them this deer season. I have some hearing loss and don't want any more.

Eders has a good price on them.


Double Naught Spy
May 20, 2005, 07:14 AM
Smokey Joe, just exactly what legal problems might folks face while wearing electronic muffs while hunting? What laws say you can't do this?

44-40, I can assure you that if you are not wearing hearing protection while hunting with firearms and you actually do try to shoot animals, you will lose your hearing.

Smokey Joe
May 20, 2005, 10:16 AM
00Spy--I believe some states prohibit the use of electronic amplification while hunting, except prescription hearing aids. I'd check w/my local warden on this.

Re prescription hearing aids, avoiding THAT necessity is what this thread is all about! :) So far so good in my case.

May 20, 2005, 10:26 AM
I have constant ringing in my ears (tinnatus) from constant ear infections in my youth, as well as profound high frequency hearing loss, so I know the effects of hearing loss.

What I don't know is what it is like to get shot, and I don't intend to find out, so I would be willing to take a little more damage to my ears, rather than miss out on someone with a loaded gun tramping towards me.

I do use hearing protection (plugs and muffs both) when target shooting or prairie dog hunting. You guys have me wondering that plugs might be good in the duck blind or goose pit, as that is a more controlled shooting environment.

May 20, 2005, 03:46 PM
I just bought a Sordin ear muff: http://www.merchantmanager.com/tactical/MM046.ASP?pageno=37&aProds=SSP-EHP on the recommendation from another member. Plan on using them for hunting deer. I'll be using a 44 magnum handgun. My hearing is far more important to me than shooting at an animal with a magnum revolver and unprotected ears.

Dave R
May 20, 2005, 05:25 PM
In a pinch, cigarette filters work well if you smoke.

And if you don't smoke, in a pinch you can use:

-9mm cartridge cases (primer end goes in your ear.)
-.357Mag cartridge cases
-.223 cartridge cases.

Ask me how I know :rolleyes:

You look pretty stupid with .223 brass hanging out your ears. But I guess it looks less stupid than going "EH? WHAT DID SAY? TALK INTO THIS EAR."

May 20, 2005, 06:33 PM
Tyme & Terry -

How well do those Aearo Combat plugs work? Can you hear stuff just fine in them like they claim? Any complaints?

I might try to sell my dad on a couple pairs :cool:

Last time we went shooting, forgot plugs but had a roll of TP.. it helped..

Smokey Joe
May 22, 2005, 11:28 PM
Artsmom--I'd have a problem w/any ear coverings when calling waterfowl--I need to hear if and when and what they say back to me!

Emphatically agree with you about on the range, indoor OR outdoor. Would NEVER go to the range again w/o hearing protection rated 30 or 31, unless I could get it rated even higher! (A rating of 31 is the highest I've ever seen, and those are the muffs I normally use. My backup pair is a 30.)

No varmints where I hunt, so no experience there, but it must be much like range work from the descriptions I've read.

May 23, 2005, 08:10 PM
I need to hear if and when and what they say back to me!You know, with modern technology, you'd think that someone would come up with a device to protect your hearing AND still let you hear normally...

Oh wait. They have... ;)

Come on folks, needing to hear is no excuse for leaving your ears unprotected. Most of the better electronic hearing protectors actually AMPLIFY quiet noises and allow you to hear BETTER than normal while still offering excellent protection.

Lawyer Daggit
May 23, 2005, 10:35 PM
I have constant tinnitus from gun induced hearing damage and problem hearing conversations in rooms with high ceilings and hard floors and furnishings.

I now always wear ear protection when hunting. At a push 'bluetac' (used to stick up posters on walls- don't know if it is called this outside Australia) works well as a substitute.

July 24, 2007, 01:00 AM
so what do you think is the best hunting hearing protection these days? the one that allows (or even amplifies) low level sounds and effectively blocks out anything beyond some reasonable cutoff point?

July 24, 2007, 08:15 AM
lookit, wearing a bit honkin set of muffs that amplify sound but have an 85 db cutoff, though it works well, is just too uncomfortable to wear all day, not to mention hot in the early season. But I have done it - I just usually take them off after 2 or 3 hours - for comfort reasons.

So all's I do is this. Just use normal rubber earplugs. For the ear which is on the side of the rifle I'm shooting (right side), I have it stuck in about 2/3rds or 3/4ths of the way, where just a bit of sound gets through. On the left ear, I have it in about 1/2 way, where enough sound gets through that I can hear a deer walking and distinguish it from a squirrel.

July 24, 2007, 10:44 AM
Has anyone tried the Walker Game Ears? I'd be interested to know. They advertise only needing one, with a plug in the other ear. They claim the sound amplification from the one is ample to compensate for the plug in the other ear. They are expensive, but with the hearing damage and Tinnitus I am suffering from may make them well worth it.

And for anyone who believes that they will not suffer down the road from gun shots while hunting, you are sorely mistaken. You cannot imagine how a bad case of tinnitus can affect your life. Go do a google search on William Shatner (yes, Captain Kirk) and tinnitus.

July 24, 2007, 12:47 PM
Whether it was a muff or one of those inserts, before I'd trust my hearing with it, I would (and have and do) test it the loud sound cutoff feature extensively at the range, starting with .22s and working my way up to the bigger boomers.

Double Naught Spy
July 24, 2007, 07:33 PM
lookit, wearing a bit honkin set of muffs that amplify sound but have an 85 db cutoff, though it works well, is just too uncomfortable to wear all day, not to mention hot in the early season. But I have done it - I just usually take them off after 2 or 3 hours - for comfort reasons.

I think this may have somewhat to do with your selection of muffs. I find Peltor Comtacs to be comfortable for all day wear and they are low enough profile to work well with rifles.

Of course, you may be one of those folks who just isn't comfortable in muffs like some people can't stand having plugs in their ears.

For most shooting, I wear both and simply turn up the volume in the muffs. I end up with about normal hearing of normal noises and extremely well muffs gun sounds.

Dave R
July 25, 2007, 11:37 PM
After my first varmit season with Peltor Tac-6 "behind the head" electronic muffs, I cant imagine hunting any other way. It is so nice to have normal (or enhanced) hearing, but not be bothered by the report of the rifle.

I recognize this is about the cheapest solution, but the effect is almost magic. The better quality devices must be wonderful.

July 26, 2007, 09:32 PM
I recently got a pair of electronic muffs for <$30 (they're available just about everywhere), and they're a great improvement over my old "regular" ear muffs. I'm not constantly taking them on-and-off, particularly on a firing line, when you might want to talk to someone, but there's still shooting going on. The batteries are supposed to last for 200 hrs, and I haven't worn them out yet.

I think these are the ones I got:


July 26, 2007, 11:15 PM
I use Peltors. The Walker Game Ears are very good and were the original "game ears". I often wonder if deer can hear the tiny noices that you notice with the amplified game ears on. The amount of sound you hear is really amazing.

The game ears/amplified muffs can be tiring. Sometimes I just have to hear normal for a while. I always keep ear plugs on a shoe lace around my neck anyway. If I see a deer and the game ears aren't on, I slip the plugs in. No deer is worth hearing damage.

July 27, 2007, 11:19 AM
I always feel like my non-gun side ear takes the brunt of the blast. Anyone else feel that way?

During an ideal deer hunting season, I only take one shot with no protection. If we had more tags allowed each year, I would start considering something while hunting, but not one shot a year. I always wear hearing protection at the range, obviously, as well as while running table saw, circ saw, chainsaw, brush hog, etc.

For the average person, these activities around the house probably do a lot more damage than a couple of rifle shots a year. I have never been around a muzzle brake, but it sounds like that might be a whole different story with even one shot.

July 27, 2007, 01:04 PM
I think I feel like alot of people on here. I always use hearing protection at the range and when dove hunting.

I never use protection when I deer hunt. Maybe I'm good or just lucky, but I take one deer a year and fire one shot a year doing it. This using my Weatherby Mark V 7mm Rem mag.
I do alot of walk hunting looking for the big one. With plugs I can not hear, and muffs get way to sweaty while walking. They also distract me when taking a quick off hand shot. I Have been hunting for 30 years this way and have never had a problem or any ringing after a shot. Long barrel or maybe the round?

I will agree If I had a muzzle brake or a large magnum, I would find a way to use one.

July 27, 2007, 01:08 PM
I use the low-tech approach on anything that goes to the field with me. In the case of ear plugs, I use North Sonic Ear Valves. They work pretty good, you can hear with them in and they shut down whenever there is a sudden loud noise (like a gunshot).

July 27, 2007, 02:51 PM
Scorch are those you describe an analog or digital device?

July 27, 2007, 07:37 PM
I wear my electronic hearing protection, both on the hunt and at the range.

#1 priority is protecting your hearing.
#2 I can hear range commands or someone else trying to get my attention at the range or at the hunt.
#3 there may be some "enhancement" from these electronic muffs, but I honestly don't think it works that well and I don't like the excess noise, so I don't turn it up above what I can normally hear without the muffs. If some warden has a problem with me protecting my own hearing, they can kiss my axx. We should all be entitled to protecting our hearing, and being able to hear ambient noise is a good idea from a safety standpoint.

Don't be stupid guys, wear your protection. If someone says it causes a problem with hunting, then they probably haven't tried a "decent" electronic device. If you have a problem with unfair advantage from "enhancement", then TURN IT DOWN like I do. If anyone has a problem with it, tell them that you are protecting your hearing.