Do you ever remember those times when you left the blind and your head was pounding and your ears were ringing? I certainly do. It’s happened on numerous occasions for me, whether in a duck blind, the dove field, or on the shooting range. Over the years, I had convinced myself that since it was only a few times a year, I’d be fine. That’s one of the faults of being young and bulletproof. We don’t consider the long term ramifications, especially when it comes to our hearing. I’ve watched my father and others over the years slowly lose their hearing due to shooting sports, farm tractors, and an array of other noisy situations.
Photo by Jake Terry
I can remember one specific hunt last year where I had to sit back and stop shooting because my ears were ringing so bad. We were hunting in a metal tank blind and my buddy was shooting a 10 gauge right next to me. It sounded like a cannon every time he shot, as the sound would reverb back into the metal blind. Combining my own gun and six others—it was a recipe for disaster for my ears.
I’ve always known I should be more vigilant about protecting my hearing, but would never pull the trigger on a set of nice electronics which makes no sense when you think about the money spent on other items used for the hunt. Duck boat $10K, camo and waders $1K, gun $1500, bag/shells $500, duck lease $5K, gas/food $500-$1000 for the season, the list can go on and on.
The week I returned from the “10 gauge” hunt, I was invited to a waterfowl banquet where I met Dr. Grace Sturdivant. Dr. Sturdivant, owner of OtoPro Technologies, is a practicing audiologist that provides sports and recreational hearing protection. She had a display set up at the banquet so I decided to share my story with her. I had informed her that my ears were still ringing (four days later), and she kindly showed me the different options that were available and what she thought would be best for my situation. I’ll be honest, my main concern with wearing any type of ear plug with or without electronics, was that I wouldn’t be able to hear the tones well enough when I was using my duck call.
After settling on a pair of the electronics, she custom fitted the molds on sight and five days later, they were in my mailbox.
Next step, field testing.
I was eager to get in the field to use them and answer my question, “can I still hear myself call with them in?” After playing with the volume adjustments, I was able to get them dialed in just right. They have the perfect amount of amplification to hear the wing beats of mallards that no one else can hear, all while cutting out the damaging noise. It didn’t affect how I could hear my call. It was a win-win in my books. I also use them during turkey season which is a huge benefit!
Bottom line is, you only have one set of ears—save them! My only regret was waiting as long as I did to invest in quality technology.