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!

Sheep Conditioning 101

The Butte near Palmer is ready for climbing. It is one of the first hills here in the Matanuska Valley that is free of ice and snow early each spring. I just climbed it this morning, along with about 47 other people and dogs enjoying the sun. 50+ degrees feels great in April.

Climbing Buddies

It’s already April, so only four short months before hunting in Alaska is in full swing, and Sheep Hunting in Alaska starts. And often, June and July are so busy with other summer activities, conditioning takes a back seat. So I rely heavily on April and May for the bulk of my conditioning exercise. Then I often coast through to August, with only scattered conditioning jaunts to put the finishing touches on “sheep shape” for me. And, getting into great shape by the end of May helps me enjoy the Alaska outdoors to the fullest, since our fishing, camping, and hiking often demand more than couch potatoes can handle. See you on the hills.    http://www.tonyruss.com/;   http://www.tonyruss.com/PageBook-SheepHuntinginAK.html


The Wonders of Nature

The Alaska outdoors is full of sights and sounds this time of year. Birds are returning and nesting here in the Matanuska Valley – some right in our back yards. On one of daily walks my Lab jumped a female grouse that led him on a fluttering chase. I immediately thought ‘broken wing act to lead him from her nest.’ Sure enough, I found her ground nest tucked up against a small spruce tree, complete with 11 tan-with-brown-speckles eggs.

Spruce Hen on Nest

I quickly called my dog and led him at heel away from the sight. The bird returned quite quickly with no apparent distress. Now we walk a different route and I’m watching for any other ground nesting birds to keep my dogs away. I keep tabs on her from a distance to make sure she has a successful nesting season, and so I can take the neighbor’s kids to see once her chicks hatch and they all desert the nest. They will love to inspect the nest and the remnants of the eggs.

Eleven grouse eggs