Gun Hunters: Protect Your Hearing

ear plugsHad my annual physical recently, and glad to report that, knock on wood, I’m doing well. But doc did say, “You have slight high-frequency hearing loss in your left ear.”

I have always been able to hear extremely well, able to pick up the crunch of deer hooves at long range and zero in on the direction and location of those sounds. Hearing has been my greatest attribute as a hunter, and to know I’ve lost even a bit of that is disturbing.

Audiologists point out that exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. Almost all guns create noise over that level. A .22 can produce noise around 140 dB, while larger calibers can produce sound over 175 dB.

Every time you fire a rifle, you create noise that can damage your hearing! The left ear (in right-handed shooters like me) often suffers more damage than the right ear because it is closer to, and directly in line with, the muzzle of the firearm. Also, the right ear is partially protected by the head and gun stock.

Shooters tend to have high-frequency hearing loss, which according to audiologists means that they may have trouble hearing speech sounds like “s,” “th,” or “v” and other high-pitched sounds.

At the range, I always wear hearing protection, and I try to double up, with foam ear plugs and muffs over them. But in the woods I have never worn plugs, feeling a need to hear deer coming.

I am going to change that ASAP this season by keeping plugs and even muffs handy, depending on the situation. It’s going to be a hassle, and I don’t want to do it. But I dread the alternative.

When in a tree stand or fabric ground blind, I am going to wear pair of foam plugs linked with a cord around my neck. Plan is to hear a buck coming, see him, get ready, put in plugs and then take the shot. As I said, hassle and one more thing to think about, but gotta do it. You should too, no matter how old you are.

When I hunt from a wood or metal box blind, I’ll use the plugs or maybe even muffs. Firing a rifle in an enclosed place where the shot reverberates and bounces off walls makes the noise louder and increases the risk of hearing loss. Always wear some type of ear protection in a box, starting today!

Doc says that while I have a bit of hearing loss, I can prevent more by ALWAYS wearing ear protection every time I fire a gun and when people nearby shoot a rifle. Follow my lead and wear your “ears” on every shot.

Trail Cam: New York Albino Buck

NY albino

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) recently held a Velvet Buck Photo Contest, and not surprisingly Dennis Money’s shot of this New York albino buck took first place. Dennis’ grand prize was a Bear Legion compound bow package.

ny 2 buck scrape

Second place went to Jeffery Antes, who captured this Michigan buck working a lick branch, with what I assume is a buck fawn looking on, hoping to learn the scraping ropes. Bucks make and use scrapes in July more than most people realize.

BTW, you need to join the NDA, whose mission is to monitor current events in the deer-hunting world. CWD, new state laws, conservation, anti-hunters… This organization is dedicated to keeping us informed, to benefit America’s deer herds and to protect our hunting heritage. It’s free to join. You’ll receive a weekly newsletter with all sorts of current deer information and photos.

 

How Will Hurricane Florence Affect Deer?

floods deerIf you are hunting in North or South Carolina or Georgia right now, Florence is going to wreck your plans for at least a week and probably longer. For many of you, access to your hunting land will be flooded and blocked. Tower stands could be blown away or damaged.

How will this massive wind and rain event affect the whitetail deer themselves? In 2 words: not much.

Many studies over the decades have shown that rising floodwaters of rivers and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and weeks as they flee to higher and drier ground. But the deer will eventually filter back into their home habitats and core areas once the waters recede.

There is recent research to support this. A year ago, on September 10, 2017, the eye of Hurricane Irma, packing 135 mph winds and dropping 12 inches of rain, passed within 13 miles of a whitetail study area in southwest Florida monitored by researchers from Virginia Tech. Of the 60 deer that had been fitted with GPS collars in the study area, not one died during the hurricane.

The researchers did find that collared does significantly increased their movements the day of the storm. Bucks moved a little less compared to the week before. All deer selected areas with higher elevations where flooding was less likely.

Bottom line: While Hurricane Florence is not likely to kill many deer, it will certainly displace them for weeks. When things dry out and get back to semi-normal in a month or so, the hunting will be a little unpredictable as deer come and go back to their home ranges. But the bucks will be back, so hang tough.

To all in the path of Florence, good luck and be safe.

3 September Spots for Trail Cameras

va 2018 va buck

If you’ll be setting out or moving trail cameras this week, try:

ONE: A small clearing in the woods 50 to 75 yards off an alfalfa, soybean or clover field. Mature bucks like to hang out in these areas in late afternoon this time of year.

TWO: A little bottleneck of thick cover (image) on a deer trail that leads into a feed field or clover plot.

THREE: If you spot a big shooter buck in a field, sneak in the back door and set a camera on the nearest creek crossing, swampy bottom, etc. you can find in the nearby woods. As summer deepens, mature bucks spend a lot of time hanging out near water in low, thick, shady areas where it is cooler.

Hunters: Beware Illegal Pot on Public Land

pot

As deer seasons open across the country, if you hunt public land, you need to be on the lookout for pot gardens, which authorities refer to as “illegal cartel marijuana grows.”

California has the most of these illicit operations. In an ominous announcement, DEA Agents and California Game Wardens say a cartel “owns” every national forest, national park, state park and wildlife refuge in the state.

Marijuana grows have been found in 23 states and on 72 national forests. Other states with significant cartel gardens on national forests, parks and BLM lands include Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Wisconsin. Farther east and south, the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky is known to have lots of illicit pot growing.

As authorities point out, this is big business. Larger pot grows are in excess of 1,000 plants per site, and some can go up to 200,000 plants. Each plant has a street value of over a million dollars. Illicit growers protect their crops. And early fall, before temperatures drop to freezing, is prime harvest time.

You need to be on your toes and aware of your surroundings as you scout and hunt for deer on public land. Most of the growers are heavily armed and trails leading to grows are frequently booby trapped with trip wires and punji pits. Also, growers are now using deadly illegal chemicals to grow their pot, and these pose a serious threat to an innocent hunter who stumbles across them.

What do you look for? How do you avoid a potentially dangerous encounter?

pot pipes

Authorities point out that most pot gardens are irrigated by black plastic irrigation pipes that carry water from up to a half mile away. You might spot a man-made pool or a small dam on a stream where chemicals are added. These criminals are trashy. If you spot lots of junk, propane tanks, old tarps, etc. in an area, be on red alert.

You can also detect marijuana plants by their odor, which can have a skunky smell.

You may overhear voices, typically speaking Spanish. Law enforcement notes that some 85% of all growers they catch are illegals.

In all these cases, quietly retreat and retrace your trail back to your vehicle. Don’t linger at the site, or touch anything that looks out of the ordinary. When you are safely out of the woods, call 911 with the location of the illegal grow.

Be careful out there and good luck.

Source: The Outdoor Wire