Most of the hunting/shooting community knows the importance of using hearing protection while on the range. But not many hunters will use hearing protection while in the field. We often need to be able to use our ears to detect prey or to make sure we aren’t making noise ourselves. But at what cost? Guest blogger John O’Connor offers some insight.
Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss. My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss. I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.
How to Protect Hearing While Hunting
For many, hunting is a fantastic hobby that allows a person to live off the land and spend time with their loved ones. While hunting can be a fun sport, it is also important to understand just how damaging it can be to a person’s hearing. Many hunters put most of their emphasis on their guns and the game that they catch, but they may forget about protecting their ears from hearing damage. In order to ensure that your hearing health is up to par in the future, it is essential that you protect your hearing each time you go out hunting.
First, you may be interested to know why hearing loss is so common amongst hunters. The reason for this is simply because some hunters use guns without using ear protection or are not using the proper hearing protection when hunting. The loud noise that guns make when they are fired can drastically damage hearing and cause hearing loss over a period of time. My father who is now in his late 70’s has been an avid hunter for years. He often times neglected his hearing while out in the woods and now uses a hearing aid to help increase his hearing levels. Although he still finds time to get out to the range he always makes sure he has the proper hearing protection with him to protect his ears from further damage. If you notice that you constantly use your gun while hunting without wearing ear protection, you are putting your hearing at risk. There is also another thing that you should consider if you are going hunting with family members and friends.
All of your loved ones should also be wearing some type of hearing protection while they are in the wilderness with you. You don’t have to be the one to fire the gun to get severe hearing damage. If you have children or teenagers with you, it is imperative that you protect their hearing every single time that they come hunting with you. You can do this by visiting a local pharmacy or by looking in your local sporting goods store to find the best type of hearing protection available. Most hearing protection products are cheap and easy to wear while hunting for game.
There are a couple of options available to you if you make the decision that you need to wear hearing protection. Your first option is to buy a pack of earplugs from your local pharmacy. Earplugs are great because they insert right into the ear canal and stay put for as long as you need them to be there. They reduce the amount of noise that would have reached your eardrum, causing damage and hearing loss over time. Earplugs are great for people who want something small and convenient. You can also invest in noise-reducing headphones that can be found in your nearby sporting goods store. These will be a little more expensive, but are a good investment for those who want something more long lasting.
Your hearing is such a precious thing and is often taken for granted every single day. Even if you don’t want to protect your hearing in other areas of your life, at least consider wearing ear protection when firing guns and hunting. You should also have everyone else in your hunting party wear some type of hearing protection as well to ensure that everyone enjoys the hobby to its full extent.
When someone in my group is shooting and I am not, I will always plug my ears with my fingers. If we are hunting from a blind and I have the time and space to put earmuffs on before shooting I will do that as well. If you don’t want to limit your ability to hear your game while hunting, a great option is to use electronic ear muffs. Electronic muffs have a microphone on the outside that allows you to hear sounds with low amplification (conversations, movement) but will automatically turn off loud noises, such as blasts from guns! I have a pair and I love them. I find I can actually hear things better while wearing them, which is kind of neat! And there are some cheap options at your local shooting or sporting goods store!
Thanks for reading and stay safe this hunting season!