I really enjoy turkey hunting. A huge part of turkey hunting is listening to the birds call and using calls to attract them. It's a super interactive hunt! This form of hunting requires good hearing. Often my daughters or someone younger than me that I'm hunting with will say “Did you hear that gobble?”
I sometimes have to respond “No.” I shot a lot as a kid but didn't use hearing protection. This damaged my hearing. I wish I had used hearing protection – even when hunting! Just one shot can result in damage to your sense of hearing.
Back in the old days we never thought about wearing hearing protection. There were some shooters that might wear ear plugs or cover their ears when others were shooting. However, now that I know “better” I don't shoot a firearm without hearing protection. The experts say: “Exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. Almost all firearms create noise that is over the 140-dB level. A small .22-caliber rifle can produce noise around 140 dB, while big-bore rifles and pistols can produce sound over 175 dB.”
Here at The Proving Grounds I require all our hunters to wear hearing protection, whether it be when sighting in the guns or during the hunt itself. I also expect any by-standers, hunting partners, and cameramen to use hearing protection. I’m that serious about it. If we’re on the range, a shout of “fire in the hole” goes out to make sure everyone protects their ears – if nothing more than throwing their hands over their ears or simple ear plugs.
Research shows that only about half of shooters wear hearing protection all the time when target practicing. Hunters are even less likely to wear hearing protection because they say they cannot hear approaching game or other noises.
Years ago I was introduced to the electronic earmuffs that allow shooters to hear what’s going on around them. When you wear the electronic earmuffs, they allow you to still hear (some even amplify the sounds) then silence the blast of the shot. These earmuffs are great and what most of the hunters on our team wear. A good example of this was in the recent turkey hunt where Chase shot his first tom. Chase sets a good example with the earmuffs on his head, ready to be quickly put in place before he takes the shot. (Click HERE to watch the hunt.)
As I mentioned, because I’ve spent most of my life shooting I’ve lost a significant amount of my hearing. A friend told me about a product that could not only protect my hearing, but actually assist me in hearing those important sounds I need to hear in the woods – like the sound of a turkey gobble or a critter walking in the leaves. You’ll see me wearing a small, custom-fit digital hearing protection system found at https://www.wildear.com/ Since they are custom fit, they stay in my ears and are comfortable all day long. I don’t have to worry about adjusting them and making a lot of hand movements that might alert a gobbler.
I have no doubt that if I hadn't protected my hearing during these recent years I'd be hunting turkeys by blind calling or setting on plots – because I wouldn't be able to hear them calling.
Remember – even one shot of a firearm without hearing protection can result in a decrease in your sense of hearing.
I encourage you to protect your hearing so you can continue to enjoy hearing all the sounds during the spring. It will likely help you locate a tom and will certainly help you enjoy all activities that much more.