I've never hunted but intend to go bird hunting either this fall or next year. The other day I watched one of the outdoor channel programs on elk hunting. The shooter and his spotter did not have any hearing protection of any kind.
When I'm at the range and hunters are sighting in their big guns, I have to double plug just to be able to remain at a lane. Double plugged, the noise is deafening.
I can't imagine shooting one of these heavy magnum calibers without blowing my ears out. Now, I realize that shotguns don't make anywhere near the db noise level that mag rifles do, but, still, I have no intention of firing any firearms without at least some plugs.
What do you guys do? If you don't plug up do your ears ring for days?
If you enjoyed reading about "Hunting and Hearing" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
August 12, 2005, 08:43 PM
Most hunters like most soldiers just suck it up. For the 1 or 2 shots you might make during a big game hunt, it just is not an issue for realistic people.
A big bird hunt might take you through a hundred shot shells but those are pretty far between and for that type of hunting hearinf protection is realistic.
For Joe Duck/pheasnt/rabbit hunter, suck it up.
August 12, 2005, 08:50 PM
Try wearing plugs and putting a good set of phones on over them. This should take care of you on the range.
When hunting I don't wear anything, but then my hearing is gone anyway, just ask my wife.
You might look into some of the products like Walkers Game Ear, there are some newer less expensive ones out now. They amplify sound but choke off loud noises.
Hope this helps.
August 12, 2005, 08:52 PM
The only time I ever noticed the sound of my shot while hunting was the first time I tried handgun hunting for deer. Needless to say, a .44 mag with a 5 inch barrel is VERY loud and my ears rang for days.
When using a rifle though, you don't fire that many shots. One or two should do the trick (if not, you need to practice more) and so you won't notice it. That does not mean there is no hearing damage, just that in the rush of the moment, you tune it out.
August 12, 2005, 09:07 PM
Hard to tell if someone is wearing hearing protection these days. They have "all in the ear" models out there with amplifying electronics if you're willing to pay.
August 12, 2005, 11:14 PM
When I wear plugs I can hear pretty well and it cuts the sound of gunfire enough so I don't have ringing or pain. It is a well known fact that this type of exposure, over time, will lead to a certain amount of deafness.
Case in point: Pete Townsend. Deaf as a doorknob. Now, that kind of exposure is quite different from the occassional gunshot but loud noise will cause damage.
August 13, 2005, 12:14 AM
Really can't recall the sound of any gun I fired at a deer. Same goes for small arms fire while training in the military. Now, the M109A2's that battery fired about fifty yards behind me one night just after I'd gotten to sleep... :what: :cuss:
August 13, 2005, 12:45 AM
Gunfire damages hearing. "Suck it up" is never a good idea. If you wear plugs and electronic muffs you can adjust the volume so that you can hear fine, but the muffs turn off when the shot occurs so you can get an effective noise reduction rating around 40 with good plugs and electronic muffs.
Steve in PA
August 13, 2005, 12:57 AM
Hunting is alot different that blasting away at the range.
I've been hunting alot of years and when I've used a rifle, I do not remember hearing the shot. Ditto with a shotgun.
When I hunt with a handgun (SRH .44mag), the ears will ring.
August 13, 2005, 01:16 AM
I do not remember hearing the shot.That doesn't prevent damage. Auditory exclusion happens in the brain, the sensor (the ear) is what is damaged. The fact that your brain didn't register the sound offers no protection to the delicate structures in the ear.
Any time your ears ring after a loud noise, it is indicative of permanent damage taking place. However, your ears may also be damaged from loud noises that don't cause ringing.
August 13, 2005, 08:20 AM
"suck it up"
Yeah, I did that for 30+ years and now I regret it. It's like there's somebody following me around 24 hours a day with a whistling tea kettle.
Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones.
August 14, 2005, 07:11 PM
Ocassional exposure, as in hunting is significantly different from sitting on a range or playing your stereo full throttle for 3-4 hours at a whack.
hso , do you think you can hunt well plugged and muffed?
JohnBT,was that 30 years of hunting or 30 years ont he range?
August 14, 2005, 09:03 PM
I don't go hunting with anything louder than a 20 guage. If I really thought that I did need protection from a louder gun while hunting, I might consider just plugging one ear (probably my right) so that I could still have some freedom to naturally hear while woods hunting/stalking.
August 14, 2005, 09:23 PM
Firing one or two shots at a deer or elk, and I can still hear perfectly normal, even though a rifle shot has been resounding off trees and rocks right back at me. Fire that same rifle on the range w/o plugs, and it's hours before the ringing goes away. It is a strange phenomenon, but I have experienced this every time. I don't understand it, but I'll take it!
August 14, 2005, 09:32 PM
I don't bother for hunting. Don't shoot enough to bother me.
August 14, 2005, 11:37 PM
I carried ear plugs with me when I went deer hunting last year, and plan to carry them again while elk hunting this year. I figured if I had time to put them in I would, otherwise I didn't worry about it. Took two shots a spike (missed both times) and I could tell afterwards that it would have definatly been better to have had the plugs in. But, I jumped the deer while walking along the edge of a wash and probably would not have heard him had I been pluged at the time. Maybe I still would have seen him, but it was the noise that alerted me to his presence. A couple other times, it was my ears that told me there were deer nearby before my eyes.
This year when I go elk hunting I'll carry the plugs again, but will only put them in if I have time. Last years experience taught me how important it is to be able to hear the animals. When I can afford them (hopefully before next year's hunting season) I'll get a set of muffs or plugs that will amplify soft sounds and exclude loud ones. That way I'll get the advantage of hearing the animals, and save myself from future deafness.
August 15, 2005, 10:41 AM
EVERY SINGLE ROUND fired without protection will make its contribution to reducing your ability to hear, specifically INCLUDING the .22 Long Rifle.
For all my shooting life, now over fifty years, I have tried to use hearing protection when shooting....except when hunting, where we pretty well have to be able to hear what's going on in the woods around us.
I used hearing protection when I became an underground miner, BEFORE it was required, and was considered a wuss for doing so. I used hearing protection when doing jobs like cutting the winter's wood with a chainsaw, and during a long career of competitive pistol shooting. Whenever possible, in other words, I've used such protection....and I STILL have serious hearing loss.
This fall I'm taking a new muzzle-braked Savage .338 after elk in Alberta, and I am ALSO taking my Pro-Ears electronic muffs. This will do several things:
-I'll be able to use the brake;
-I'll still be able to hear what's going on around me, in spite of my damaged ears, due to increased volume inside the muffs;
-and my ears will be WARM while doing all the above.
Win-win, I'd say.
Protect your ears!
August 15, 2005, 12:44 PM
It would be interesting to know about exposure over time (shooting on a long term continual basis like the range) and exposure in spike form (like hunting) and the damage. In simpler terms is a sharp shock to the system worse than the dull drone.
The electronic aids now will aid in the hunt whereas hearing protection in the past meant giving up one of the senses while in the woods which I wouldn't agree with, so if we are just talking regular plugs it wouldn't be for me on the hunt.
August 15, 2005, 03:07 PM
I've never worn any hearing protection while hunting.
I prefer not to during big game hunting. The distant squirrel bark or twig snap can make a difference in a hunt. Most times I hear the animal before I see it.
Bird hunting is a different story. I should wear hearing protection but haven't yet. I have on the other hand been conteplating buying some electronic muffs for bird hunting.
August 15, 2005, 04:30 PM
I don't wear hearing protection when I'm hunting with a shotgun...whether it's deer (slugs) or small game.
However, when I use a centerfire rifle for varmint hunting, I definitely use hearing protection.
I always wear ear protection while doing any shooting other than that done when hunting.
The first thing my uncle told me when I was getting into hunting and shooting was..."I'm not one for wearing motorcycle helmets, but wearing ear protection while shooting is something you should do." After years of shooting/hunting and working with power tools doing construction he has trouble hearing dinnertable conversations.
August 15, 2005, 04:48 PM
I'm a competitive shooter, a CCW instructor, and a hunter. Ear protection IS the way to go.
'Sucking it up' in the field with firearms and no protection is just plain dumb, kind of like some hunters who used to drink beer while driving to the hunt.
I strongly suggest doing what I do. Get the "inside the ear" custom-made earplugs which allow you to hear at a distance in the field and yet muffle the sound of a firearm being discharged.
August 15, 2005, 05:36 PM
Well there is some problems with shooting as little as one or two shots if where you are hunting is really quiet.
Eskimo hunters who use rifles for hunting most are now deaf. The ice flow can be very quiet when the wind is down. Reasoning is, if you are in a somewhat noisy environment, wind, leaves russling, creaking of the woods your ears are reacting to that sound. If you are in an almont silent area you ears (cochlea) are relaxed and a sudden extremely loud sound will hurt them more than say a gun shot near you in loud rush hour traffic. I've been sitting in a silent office and slapped a book down and my ears rang for most of the night. That same noise in a full, louder office would not have shocked my ears.
Seems to me that is why war veterans can still hear some. By all reasoning they should be deaf. Battle is full or screaming, explosions and gun fire but their ears were ready for most that sound.
Not to say that all loud noise doesn't add up but sudden noisies in almost silence are worse for you, quicker.
August 15, 2005, 06:32 PM
My Fellow Hunters Can Be Dumb Sometimes
Pardon me sir! :mad:
August 16, 2005, 10:04 AM
I usually take some plugs and put them in if I have time. I have some electronic muffs, but I have never tried them for hunting because I wasn't sure of the sound quality. When I am at the range, there are some sounds that are very irritating when heard through the muffs, such as wind.
August 16, 2005, 10:22 AM
F.Y.I., midwayusa has Caldwell electronic muffs on sale for $29.99 with a limit of 3. Not the highest quality but for the price they are acceptable. I just ordered a pair.
August 16, 2005, 12:05 PM
Each gunshot may cause a small permanent hearing loss for unprotected shooters. Such a small loss may not be noticible, but over time they accumulate and amount to significant permanant damage by the time the hearing loss is recognized. The fact that you don't register the sound does not take the sound pressure experienced by the ears away.
Hunting in muffs and plugs wasn't an option until fairly recently. With the advent of progressivly less expensive electronic ear muffs that can amplify non-gunshot sound a shooter can wear low profile "shotgunner" style muffs that amplify every leaf rustle while cutting out the blast from a rifle or shotgun.
From the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)
Noise & Hearing Protection
One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Excessive noise exposure is the most common cause of hearing loss.
Can Noise Really Hurt My Ears?
Yes, noise can be dangerous. If it is loud enough and lasts long enough, it can damage your hearing.
The damage caused by noise, called sensorineural hearing loss or nerve deafness, can be caused by several factors other than noise, but noise-induced hearing loss is different in one important way, it can be reduced or prevented altogether.
Can I “Toughen Up” My Ears?
No. If you think you have grown used to a loud noise, it probably has damaged your ears, and there is no treatment–no medicine, no surgery, not even a hearing aid–that completely restores your hearing once it is damaged by noise.
How Does the Ear Work?
The ear has three main parts: the outer, middle, and inner ear. The outer ear (the part you can see) opens into the ear canal. The eardrum separates the ear canal from the middle ear. Small bones in the middle ear help transfer sound to the inner ear. The inner ear contains the auditory (hearing) nerve, which leads to the brain.
Any source of sound sends vibrations or sound waves into the air. These funnel through the ear opening, down the ear canal, and strike your eardrum, causing it to vibrate. The vibrations are passed to the small bones of the middle ear, which transmit them to the hearing nerve in the inner ear. Here, the vibrations become nerve impulses and go directly to the brain, which interprets the impulses as sound: music, a slamming door, a voice, etc.
When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the nerve endings in the inner ear. As the exposure time to loud noise increases, more and more nerve endings are destroyed. As the number of nerve endings decreases, so does your hearing. There is no way to restore life to dead nerve endings; the damage is permanent.
How Can I Tell If A Noise Is Dangerous?
People differ in their sensitivity to noise. As a general rule, noise may damage your hearing if you have to shout over background noise to make yourself heard, the noise hurts your ears, it makes your ears ring, or you have difficulty hearing for several hours after exposure to the noise.
Sound can be measured scientifically in two ways. Intensity, or loudness of sound, is measured in decibels. Pitch is measured in frequency of sound vibrations per second. A low pitch, such as a deep voice or a tuba, makes fewer vibrations per second than a high voice or violin.
What Does Frequency Of Sound Vibration Have To Do With Hearing Loss?
Frequency is measured in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). The higher the pitch of the sound, the higher the frequency.
Young children, who generally have the best hearing, can often distinguish sounds from about 20 Hz, such as the lowest note on a large pipe organ, to 20,000 Hz, such as the high shrill of a dog whistle that many people are unable to hear.
Human speech, which ranges from 300 to 4,000 Hz, sounds louder to most people than noises at very high or very low frequencies. When hearing impairment begins, the high frequencies are usually lost first, which is why people with hearing loss often have difficulty hearing the high pitched voices of women and children. Loss of high frequency hearing also can distort sound, so that speech is difficult to understand even though it can be heard. People with hearing loss often have difficulty detecting differences between certain words that sound alike, especially words that contain S, F, SH, CH, H, or soft C sounds, because the sound of these consonants is in a much higher frequency range than vowels and other consonants.
What About Decibels?
Intensity of sound is measured in decibels (dB). The scale runs from the faintest sound the human ear can detect, which is labeled 0 dB, to over 180 dB, the noise at a rocket pad during launch.
Decibels are measured logarithmically. This means that as decibel intensity increases by units of 10, each increase is 10 times the lower figure. Thus, 20 decibels is 10 times the intensity of 10 decibels, and 30 decibels is 100 times as intense as 10 decibels.
Approx. Decibel Level
Faintest sound heard by human ear.
Whisper, quiet library.
Normal conversation, sewing machine, typewriter.
Lawnmower, shop tools, truck traffic; 8 hours per day is the maximum exposure to protect 90% of people.
Chainsaw, pneumatic drill, snowmobile; 2 hours per day is the maximum exposure without protection.
Sandblasting, loud rock concert, auto horn; 15 minutes per day is the maximum exposure without protection.
Gun muzzle blast, jet engine; noise causes pain and even brief exposure injures unprotected ears. Maximum allowed noise with hearing protectors.
How High Can the Decibels Go Without Affecting My Hearing?
Many experts agree that continual exposure to more than 85 decibels is dangerous.
Does The Length Of Time I Hear A Noise Have Anything To Do With The Danger To My Hearing?
It certainly does. The longer you are exposed to a loud noise, the more damaging it may be. Also, the closer you are to the source of intense noise, the more damaging it is.
Every gunshot produces a noise that could damage the ears of anyone in close hearing range. Large bore guns and artillery are the worse because they are the loudest. But even cap guns and firecrackers can damage your hearing if the explosion is close to your ear. Anyone who uses firearms without some form of ear protection risks hearing loss.
Recent studies show an alarming increase in hearing loss in youngsters. Evidence suggests that loud rock music along with increased use of portable radios with earphones may be responsible for this phenomenon.
Can Noise Affect More Than My Hearing?
A ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, commonly occurs after noise exposure, and it often becomes permanent. Some people react to loud noise with anxiety and irritability, an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, or an increase in stomach acid. Very loud noise can reduce efficiency in performing difficult tasks by diverting attention from the job.
Who Should Wear Hearing Protectors?
If you must work in an excessively noisy environment, you should wear protectors. You should also wear them when using power tools, noisy yard equipment, or firearms, or riding a motorcycle or snowmobile.
What Are The Laws For On-The-Job Exposure?
Habitual exposure to noise above 85 dB will cause a gradual hearing loss in a significant number of individuals, and louder noises will accelerate this damage.
For unprotected ears, the allowed exposure time decreases by one-half for each 5 dB increase in the average noise level. For instance, exposure is limited to 8 hours at 90 dB, 4 hours at 95 dB, and 2 hours at 100 dB.
The highest permissible noise exposure for the unprotected ear is 115 dB for 15 minutes/day. Any noise above 140 dB is not permitted.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in its Hearing Conservation Amendment of 1983, requires hearing conservation programs in noisy work places. This includes a yearly hearing test for the approximately five million workers exposed to an average of 85 dB or more of noise during an 8-hour work day.
Ideally, noisy machinery and work places should be engineered to be more quiet or the worker’s time in the noise should be reduced; however, the cost of these actions is often prohibitive. As an alternative, individual hearing protectors are required when noise averages more than 90 dB during an 8-hour day.
When noise measurements indicate that hearing protectors are needed, the employer must offer at least one type of earplug and one type of earmuff without cost to employees. If the yearly hearing tests reveal hearing loss of 10 dB or more in higher pitches in either ear, the worker must be informed and must wear hearing protectors when noise averages more than 85 dB for an 8-hour day.
Larger losses of hearing and/or the possibility of ear disease should result in referral to an ear, nose and throat physician (otolaryngologist).
What Are Hearing Protectors? How Effective Are They?
Hearing protection devices decrease the intensity of sound that reaches the eardrum. They come in two forms: earplugs and earmuffs.
Earplugs are small inserts that fit into the outer ear canal. They must be snugly sealed so the entire circumference of the ear canal is blocked. An improperly fitted, dirty or worn-out plug may not seal and can irritate the ear canal. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit individual ear canals and can be custom made. For people who have trouble keeping them in their ears, they can be fitted to a headband.
Earmuffs fit over the entire outer ear to form an air seal so the entire circumference of the ear canal is blocked, and they are held in place by an adjustable band. Earmuffs will not seal around eyeglasses or long hair, and the adjustable headband tension must be sufficient to hold earmuffs firmly around the ear.
Properly fitted earplugs or muffs reduce noise 15 to 30 dB. The better earplugs and muffs are approximately equal in sound reductions, although earplugs are better for low frequency noise and earmuffs for high frequency noise.
Simultaneous use of earplugs and muffs usually adds 10 to 15dB more protection than either used alone. Combined use should be considered when noise exceeds 105 dB.
Why Can’t I just Stuff My Ears With Cotton?
Ordinary cotton balls or tissue paper wads stuffed into the ear canals are very poor protectors; they reduce noise only by approximately 7 dB.
What Are The Common Problems Of Hearing Protectors?
Studies have shown that one-half of the workers wearing hearing protectors receive one-half or less of the noise reduction potential of their protectors because these devices are not worn continuously while in noise or because they do not fit properly.
A hearing protector that gives an average of 30 dB of noise reduction if worn continuously during an 8-hour work day becomes equivalent to only 9 dB of protection if taken off for one hour in the noise. This is because decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale, and there is a 10-fold increase in noise energy for each 10 dB increase.
During the hour with unprotected ears, the worker is exposed to 1,000 times more sound energy than if earplugs or muffs had been worn.
In addition, noise exposure is cumulative. So the noise at home or at play must be counted in the total exposure during any one day. A maximum allowable while on-the-job followed by exposure to a noisy lawnmower or loud music will definitely exceed the safe daily limit.
Even if earplugs and/or muffs are worn continuously while in noise, they do little good if there is an incomplete air seal between the hearing protector and the skin.
When using hearing protectors, you will hear your own voice as louder and deeper. This is a useful sign that the hearing protectors are properly positioned.
Can I Hear Other People And Machine Problems If I Wear Hearing Protectors?
Just as sunglasses help vision in very bright light, so do hearing protectors enhance speech understanding in very noisy places. Even in a quiet setting, a normal-hearing person wearing hearing protectors should be able to understand a regular conversation.
Hearing protectors do slightly reduce the ability of those with damaged hearing or poor comprehension of language to understand normal conversation. However, it is essential that persons with impaired hearing wear earplugs or muffs to prevent further inner ear damage.
It has been argued that hearing protectors might REDUCE a worker’s ability to hear the noises that signify an improperly functioning machine. However, most workers readily adjust to the quieter sounds and can still detect such problems.
What If My Hearing Is Already Damaged? How Can I Tell?
Hearing loss usually develops over a period of several years. Since it is painless and gradual, you might not notice it. What you might notice is a ringing or other sound in your ear (called tinnitus), which could be the result of long-term exposure to noise that has damaged the hearing nerve. Or, you may have trouble understanding what people say; they may seem to be mumbling, especially when you are in a noisy place such as in a crowd or at a party. This could be the beginning of high-frequency hearing loss; a hearing test will detect it.
If you have any of these symptoms, you may have nothing more serious than impacted wax or an ear infection, which might be simply corrected. However, it might be hearing loss from noise. In any case, take no chances with noise—the hearing loss it causes is permanent. If you suspect a hearing loss, consult a physician with special training in ear care and hearing disorders (called an otolaryngologist or otologist). This doctor can diagnose your hearing problem and recommend the best way to manage it.
August 16, 2005, 01:40 PM
I use hearing protection, religiously, always, using both plugs and muffs. I still have excellent hearing after 20 years of shooting (at 34) and plan to keep it. I have plenty of relatives that took the "macho" route with regard to noise (trucking, power tools, etc.) and I don't want to have hearing troubles like they do when I'm their age.
I don't hunt, so it's a bit simpler for me. If I were a hunter, though, I'd shell out the $150 for a pair of electronic muffs. Amortized over the next 50 years of my life (hopefully!), I'd say my hearing is worth $3 a year to me.
August 16, 2005, 11:47 PM
Easy one. Just get yourself a pair of North Sonic II earplugs for under $10 at Cabelas and I’ve seen them occasionally at Wal-Mart. They allow you to hear normal sounds but block sounds such as gunshots, power equipment, rock concerts etc. I’ve used mine for deer hunting and they work great. :cool:
October 12, 2005, 02:03 AM
now then, what about self defense situations? I dread the day I have to fire a shot in self defense indoors. I already have serious ear ringing and that sure wouldn't help :barf:
October 12, 2005, 02:29 AM
If you're outdoors, the noise from a handgun won't be nearly as bad as if you're indoors. If you're really worried about it, for one don't and for two get some easy to slap on muffs or plugs and keep them with your HD gun (not really any point WRT to your CCW gun since you'll probably not find it practical to carry them with your gun). Damaging your hearing should be amoung the least of your worries in a SD situation. Survival and avoiding injury should be at the top of your list and to the exclusion of all other factors. If you're dead your hearing won't matter anymore. If you're wounded those injuries will take up a whole lot more of your attention than any tinitus or partial deafness. After surviving reasonably intact you can then worry about avoiding litigation, then saving your sanity followed by your marriage and friendships.
Hunting is another matter entirely as people who hunt will be exposed numerous times to gunshots in the field. In those cases, doing something to protect the ears is prudent becuase of the anticipated repeated exposures. SD involving gunfire is not something you can ever really anticipate, especially the exact timing (emergencies don't make appointments). It's also something that is highly unlikely to happen more than once in a lifetime. Because of that I feel that putting significant effort into hearing protection for SD situations is probably effort better spent on trainging to help avoid ever being in a situation where you have to fire your gun in the first place.
October 12, 2005, 02:30 AM
The only hunting I still really do is birds, and 90% of the time I'm using a relatively quiet 20 ga. Even still, one of the pockets on my vest is dedicated to hearing protection. I typically only wear in my right ear.
Every old man I ever hunted with, from my dad to uncles to grandfather and their friends, was a little hard of hearing due to their many years of shooting. Although I admire them in many, many ways, their hearing ability is not one of them.
October 12, 2005, 06:42 AM
I'm partially deaf in my left ear from firing less than 100 rounds of .22 through a rifle without muffs. I always use earmuffs when shooting, and plugs as well on an indoor range. Hearing loss is not fun.
October 12, 2005, 12:00 PM
I picked up a pair of Caldwell electronic muffs and used them during the last dove hunt. Worked great and didnt hinder my hunt in the least. Needless to say, I wear them every time I hunt birds.
October 12, 2005, 02:51 PM
I likely have some hearing damage from shooting .22s as a boy. I have "sucked it up" as a hunter and likely have more hearing damage as a result.
I have had hearing tests. My hearing is not the best, but I manage with it. I don't yet hear whistling noises all the time, and since I don't want to, I now take more precautions. Earplugs on dove hunts. Walker Quad Power Muffs (http://www.walkersgameear.com/quad.asp) for turkey and deer hunting.
While I myself have done it, I would never advise my child to "suck it up" without hearing protection.
If you enjoyed reading about "Hunting and Hearing" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!