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.

5 thoughts on “Gun Hunters: Protect Your Hearing

  1. Amen, Brother. I am 73 and have lost 60% of my high frequency hearing ability. This is due to shotguns and rifles that I’ve fired with no hearing protection. And, it didn’t take long to happen. Back in the late 60′s I tried to volunteer to serve my country and was turned down because of hearing loss. Most of that loss was due to shotgun noise. When bird hunting there is no reason not to wear ear protection.

  2. I suffer from Tinnitus. It’s not fun at all. I also have to have the cord-style ear plugs around my neck during firearms hunting. It sucks, but if I’m not careful I could lose what is left of my hearing. Both of my ears ring continuously and have since 1996. The left ear used to be worse, but I think they’re both the same nowadays. It sucks having to use plugs during hunting. I generally put them in while I’m hunting. I’m afraid that I’ll miss an opportunity for a shot If I have to wait until right before the deer presents itself. Protect your hearing folks!!!

  3. I can tell you once you get the ringing it never goes away, and can only get worse. I have to wear protection when I mow the lawn. It is a constant battle to keep what I have left. All from one shotgun blast next to me in a duck blind. I wear the power muffs when I gun hunt from Walkers, they actually help with hearing deer and quiet any load noise like a gun shot.

  4. I recently acquired a new rifle equipped with a muzzle brake. Nice for reduced recoil but worse for noise. First shot at a hog w/o hearing potection from a partially enclosed blind had my ears instantly ringing. I knew right then I may have permanent damage and need to change my ways. I just bought a pair of ear plugs on a holder just like you to have around my neck so I can save my hearing.

  5. I usually have plugs with me while hunting, and often use them. I also get excited and forget occasionally. I’ve tried electronic plugs, but it sound like I have my head in a bucket. So I’ll stick with the hard rubber plugs on a cord, they are easier to get in my ears fast.

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