If you asked me a few years ago, I would likely have said, "Sure, I usually wear hearing protection while I am shooting on the range, but while I'm hunting? Never!" However, that was before I found out just how important it is. There are plenty of reasons why you should consider hearing protection while you are hunting, and knowing what kind of hearing protection is best for you and your style of hunting is going to help big time. I will follow that up with a few product examples and show you their main features.
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What Hunters Need From Their Hearing Protection
The first time I had heard of wearing hearing protection while hunting, my first thought was, "How am I supposed to hear anything?" That is a valid concern if you have never used smart hearing protection before. The truth is, you need a specialized type of electronic hearing protection that actually amplifies the surrounding noises, while still protecting your ears from the blast of a firearm shot. A pair of earmuffs are going to work to save your ears, but they will keep you from hearing the essential noises you often need to hear.
The type of hunting you do will weigh in as you select the right kind of hearing protection, too. Wearing them all day may not be the most comfortable thing, and a lot of value should be placed on comfort. There is also a difference between a deer hunter and a waterfowl hunter. A waterfowl hunter can often get away with using non-electronic muffs. Sometimes, you can hear ducks or geese flying and calling before you can see them, but you need to identify most ducks with your eyes before shooting anyway. Deer hunters, on the other hand, need to hear every little thing, such as footsteps or broken branches. Then they need complete noise cancellation when they shoot. Since I'm primarily a deer hunter, I decided to invest in some high-quality electronic earbuds. You can get electronic earbuds that cost around $100, and you can find ones that cost a couple thousand dollars. And yes, you're likely going to get what you pay for. But ultimately, your hearing is vital for hunting, not to mention daily life. No one wants to deliberately do damage to their ears, and protecting your hearing is important for your quality of life down the road. Making the investment is more valuable than most people realize at first. With that in mind, here is a range of offerings that I'd recommend, all of which should do the job when you're out in the deer woods or the duck blind.
Best Value-Based Electronic Hearing Protection for Hunters
The AXIL GS Extreme 2.0 Ear Plugs are likely the cheapest smart earbuds on the market that consumers still have a positive experience with. You can get these earplugs for around $130 from Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops. They provide electronic hearing protection and noise cancellation, and they function as regular bluetooth headphones.
They also provide hearing enhancement, so you can more easily hear that twig break behind you before a deer comes walking under your stand. Plus, they can run for 25 hours in that mode, so you will be good to sit in the stand for as long as you want.
The biggest problem some users have with these earbuds is getting them to fit their ears. These are not custom-molded, so they fit most users but not everyone. If you normally have issues with earbuds fitting, you may have issues with these, too. As for performance, everyone is happy with the hearing enhancement features and with the noise cancellation when shots are fired.
Best Premium BlueTooth Ear Plugs for Hunters
Walker's Silencer 2.0
Walkers is a company that has made a name for itself in the outdoors community. It has made hearing protection and hearing enhancers for people on the range and in the stand. Walkers produces plenty of different types of products, and you can find everything you would ever need for your ears on its website.
However, as a hunter, we are looking for hearing enhancers that suppress gunshots. The Walker's Silencer 2.0 Earbuds are the perfect solution. These are simple earbuds that fit in your ear much like the typical bluetooth earbuds that you see flooding the musical market. However, these earbuds also have Walkers Sound Activated Compression technology.
This technology automatically compresses—makes quieter—loud noises such as a gunshot. The best part is that this feature is made specifically for shooters, so you know it is going to work for hunting. These earbuds also have a "Power Boost" mode that amplifies sounds around you. This will help you better hear the sounds of the woods and could give you an added advantage over deer.
Its earbuds also function like regular bluetooth headphones, so you can play music if you like. The headphones also connect to your phone through the Walkers app. In the app, you can change the volume of each earbud, change the overall mode, and much more. These earbuds are slightly more expensive, at around $320—but according to users, they are well worth it.
Best Custom-Molded, Top-End Earbuds
Tetra Hearing is the real deal for hunters. It produces some fairly pricey earbuds, but they are custom-molded and come with some pretty impressive technology. Plus, customer feedback has been outstanding throughout the company's lifetime. You start off by taking an online hearing test, which impressed me from the get-go. Tetra Hearing uses your results to suggest the perfect pair of earbuds for you. It also asks what kind of hunting you do so it can be sure to give you exactly what you need.
Like the last earbuds I mentioned, these amplify noise around you so it is easier to hear, but they also cancel out any extremely loud noises such as gunshots. So far, these earbuds sound like a home run, right? Well they are, but the biggest hurdle is the price. Their least expensive earbuds are $750, and the Multi-Pursuit CustomShield go for $2,499. I know that is a ton of cash, but these earbuds come with some pretty impressive tech and promise great protection. This company was created by two really smart guys, David Gnewikow and Bill Dickinson. Both are highly educated in the world of hearing science, and they are nationally recognized as experts in their field. Combine that with the customer feedback they get, and you can be certain that Tetra Hearing earbuds are likely the best earbuds on the market.
The Importance of Protecting Your Hearing
As you can see, there are plenty of earbud options on the market for hunters. These awesome earbuds are able to amplify sounds you want to hear, such as deer walking or ducks flying, while suppressing those you don't want to hear such as gunshots.
There is plenty of customer feedback on these products, and most of the time the complaints circle around the earbuds not fitting correctly. If that is typically a problem for you, try getting a custom-molded earbud. You tend to get what you pay for with technology like this, so it is worth the investment in the long run.