The morning of opening day is my favorite ritual. I pull out my preferred camo pattern to ensure the deer never sees me until it's too late; my favorite firearm because it's one that was handed down from my father to me and from his father to him, and my hunter's orange vest guarantees that any hunter who checks his surrounding can easily spot me.
Many of you will follow the same ritual except most of us will forget a very important piece of safety gear: hearing protection. It's often the last thing on our mind when we raise that firearm and put the crosshairs on the front shoulder. Yet after the round is squeezed off and our ears are ringing, we wish we would have put it on. By then it's too late.
Hearing loss can take years to take root in our lives or it can happen in a blink of an eye. Mine was damaged while on a deployment to the Middle East. One minute the world around me was alive and loud, the next minute only the left side of my world existed. The explosion quickly robbed me of my hearing. Some of my hearing came back over the next few weeks but some loss was permanent. But I seldom even notice it anymore because I quickly adapted to my new normal. I rapidly learned how to read lips and body language. This allowed me to piece together a conversation that I couldn’t fully hear. That’s how hearing loss often works, we will adapt to our “new world” and not realize the damage is getting worse. Our kids will notice, they will say the TV is too loud, and our spouse will claim we never listen. You don’t realize it until one day your grandkids come running up and you don’t understand anything they just said. Then it’s too late.
Now we all have our excuses. Earmuffs are too uncomfortable and hot. I need to hear people talking or I need to hear the deer coming through the woods. Perhaps the foam-type earplugs won't stay in my ear. However, those excuses don't hold water when you consider custom WildEar® products.
Which product I use depends on the activity I am doing. If I’m walking in the woods and I need my full situational awareness, I’ll grab my FieldEarz™. They have 12 different volume levels, and each ear can be adjusted separately. This allows me to adjust my right ear to a higher level, compensating for my hearing loss. Giving me improved situational awareness. They also electronically raise ambient noises in my environment, which means I usually hear the animal long before I see them, this is such a huge advantage that I often wear them while bow hunting.
If I’m headed to a busy range and I don’t need to raise ambient noises in my surroundings, or I just want to leave the electronics at home, I’ll bring my Filtered EarzON® earplugs paired with an impulse filter. This set lives in my go bag and is usually within arm’s reach. With these, I don’t have to worry about bringing extra batteries and they still allow me to hear speech but not the shot. Because these are custom to my ear, both earplugs are held firmly in my ear, so I don’t have to worry about them falling out and they’re much cooler than a big bulky headset.
From now on my morning ritual will be a little more modern. I’ll add my FieldEarz™ into the mix. Not only will it give me a one-up on that trophy buck as he sneaks through a thicket, but it will also protect my hearing so that one day I’ll hear my grandson or granddaughter, as they whisper in a shaky voice “Big Buck”!