Ear Protection 101: Preventing Hearing Damage for Hunters

Exposure to firearm noise has created a market for hundreds of different ear protection gadgets, but many of these are still not worn by hunters. Recreational firearm noise exposure is a serious problem that affects many hunters, who don’t realize symptoms until later on in life. Hunters love their guns, and anyone who works around firearms knows the thrill of firing a gun. However, exposure to noise greater than 140 dB can permanently damage hearing. Big bore rifles and pistols can actually create sounds over 175 dB, and a small .22 caliber rifle can produce noise at 140 dB. Hunters must use ear protection if they want to prevent ear damage, and there are some traditional and new gadgets out there that work best.

My father was a hunter for many years. As a child I can remember helping him pack up all of his gear the night before a hunt. He would have all of his guns, ammunition, camouflage, and callers. I was always so excited to help him pack the truck up, but looking back on it, I don’t even recall him bringing hearing protection with him on his trips. My father often when out on hunts or at the range did not pay much attention to his hearing protection and now many years later he is paying the price for it. Affected severely by hearing loss, he now wears a hearing aid in each ear to help him hear more clearly. In order to prevent hearing loss from hunting and to ensure healthy hearing for the future it is a must to always have your hearing protection on when firing a gun.

Ear Plugs

For many hunters, the easiest choice is the earplug. A set of earplugs placed into the inner ear can block out most firearm exposure. They are lightweight, compact and fit easily into the pocket, making them an essential ear protection to have. However, are they the best line of defense? Many hunters still place themselves at risk by just wearing earplugs alone, and others choose to double ear protection with earmuffs. However, this leads to another common problem. Hunters can’t hear what’s going on around them.

Ear Muffs

The next line of defense against ear damage includes earmuffs. These are clam-shelled coverings that go over the ear and provide warmth, while also blocking out loud sounds. Hunters who wear earmuffs may double protection by putting in earplugs first but with a good set of earmuffs, you can largely protect your ears without earplugs. While earmuffs are a great way to prevent later noise induced hearing loss, it’s still not the best way to block out noise exposure.

Electronic Ear Muffs

The latest tech gadget for hunters is the electronic earmuff. Just like regular earmuffs, the electronic earmuff fits over the ears and rests just like headphones. It’s lightweight and similar in design but offers something totally different than the regular earmuffs. With electronic earmuffs, sounds over 80 dB are automatically muted, while noises under this level are amplified. This makes hunting even more enhanced and you never have to take off your ear protection in order to hear or speak to friends in the hunting party.

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. Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!

Guns and Bears

I finally got out to break in my new Winchester Model 70 chambered in 30.06 Springfield – fired one shot six times and cleaned each time, then fired three 3-shot groups and cleaned after each. I’ve been without a large caliber rifle for a couple years, and just used my wife’s ’06 in the hiatus. After owning a .416 and a .300 Ultra Mag lately, it is pleasant to shoot the 30.06. Now I need to put a couple hundred rounds through it by fall so I feel good about hitting what I aim at with certainty.

I chose to go most of the way out the Pt. McKenzie road from Wasilla for another of my Alaska outdoor adventures, and ran into a couple older hunters going bear hunting in Alaska. I talked to them when they came back from checking on their black bear bait station. They had no activity at the bait station yet. Typical for this early in the spring. Many of the bears are not out yet, and it seems that even when they do come out it takes a few weeks before they want anything but grass. Baits aren’t typical hit with regularity around this part (Southcentral) of Alaska until the latter part of May. And the really good time is early June. If you are going to hunt Alaska now, spot and stalk hunting would be more productive.     http://www.tonyruss.com/PageBookBearHuntinginAlaska.html

Southeast black bear

Blackies are out!

A friend has taken three black bears (in a predator control area) so far this spring, and it is still April. Bear Hunting in Alaska is about the only hunting season open in the spring so we all look forward to it as our first Alaska hunting trip after the long winter.

Tony & Black Bear
Prince of Wales blackie

 And the meat is pretty good for the most part. Just depends on what it was eating last fall. Mountain bears are the best. Or course fish bears are the worst.

Hides are the best the earliest you can get them, so dont’ wait if you are interested. I don’t need any more hides, but I do like the meat. My freezer still had a good supply of black bear meat from last spring so I may not go this year. It’s good to get out though, so I might tag along with a friend just to enjoy the camping atmosphere. The best part of many hunts for me.