December 17, 2023
Protecting your hearing is critical, but large, cumbersome headphones that simultaneously protect and restrict your hearing are hard to justify in the deer woods. Don’t fret. Get a pair of hearing protection/ enhancement earbuds, and you’ll protect your eardrums and hear Mr. Big coming long before you ever see him.
If you get a bad tooth, you go to the dentist. If you get strep throat, you head to the doctor. When your eyesight starts to wane, it's time for a trip to the optometrist. Why am I bringing this up, you ask? Each of these problems can get fixed to some degree.
Hearing loss is different. When your hearing gets damaged, it can’t be repaired. Yes, hearing aids and other devices are an option, but there is no medical or surgical treatment for hearing loss caused by noise.
I wish I had been more proactive about protecting my hearing as a young man. As an avid hunter and target buster, I shot thousands of rounds without hearing protection. Finally, when I was sick of the constant ringing, I started using hearing protection about 10 years ago. My Walker’s Game Ear muffs worked excellently on the range, but I found them cumbersome and frustrating in the field. I couldn’t hear the call to take the geese or hear big bucks on their approach. This was unacceptable; I live for the sounds of nature, and the muffs took it away.
That led me back to using hearing protection on the range but nothing in the field. That is until I found Walker’s Silencer BT 2.0 Bluetooth earbuds. With foam-fitting earpieces, these wireless earbuds amplify in-the-field sounds but have intelligent sound suppression that only activates while shooting. Ultimately, these earbuds were life changing. They fit as well as my Apple AirPods, which I wear all day at the office and when I’m working out. These earbuds are comfortable, hold a charge and pair with your phone. Their uses are limitless, and they work well in the field. Last year while hunting deer with my oldest son, my battle-torn ears fitted with the Silencer BT 2.0s heard a grunt long before my son’s young, undamaged ears ever did. These earbuds amplify natural sounds and improve your in-the-field experience while protecting your hearing.
DOUBLE THE BENEFITS
These types of hearing protection and soft noise amplification units are crucial, and today, when gun hunting, I don’t hit the deer woods without them. I can no longer use the excuses of bulk, discomfort or the inability to hear as reasons not to wear ear protection. With the earbuds inserted, I hear better than ever; and when it’s time to boom, my ears never pay the price. It’s a win-win situation.
Another interesting detail I noticed is that my son and I communicated better while wearing my BT 2.0s during deer and turkey season. He was also wearing a pair, and we could whisper back and forth in ultra-hushed tones and still hear each other without spooking game.
One time last deer season, Hunter (my son) moved about 30 yards in front of me. He was stalking a deer we didn’t have an exact visual on. We knew the buck had bedded in a tangle of weeds and brush, but we didn’t have his location pinpointed. As Hunter crept forward, I saw the buck’s antlers move in the weeds; Hunter did not. Because he had his earbuds in, I could whisper and get his attention; and he stopped, turned, and hammered the buck when he stood up.
NOT THE ONLY ONES
Walker’s makes some excellent hearing protection and enhancement devices, but they aren’t the only company producing these products.
Though I don’t own a pair of Tetra’s hearing enhancement devices, I got to test a pair of my buddy’s last year while deer hunting in Nebraska. Wow! I will own a pair soon. The exact model was Tetra’s Deer AmpPods. Before we dive in too deep, let me note there is some sticker shock. This pair of buds runs $849, but you get what you pay for, like most quality items. Your hearing is priceless and needs to be protected.
The Deer AmpPods are engineered and optimized to enhance deer-like sounds to improve hunter success. During my brief testing period, it was immediately apparent the buds’ small size created a comfortable fit, and I loved that I could toggle through the buds’ programs with the tap of a finger.
While wearing the buds, I felt like I was in an Avatar movie. My hearing senses exploded! Even more so than when wearing my Walker Silencer BTs, I could hear dry leaves flicker in a slight breeze, listen to sticks snap from a distance, and I picked up the sound of two bucks fighting on the adjacent farm. The earbuds were remarkable.
The Deer AmpPods also have Tetra’s patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization. This feature enhances directional and distance capabilities while allowing users to customize the earbuds for specific hearing loss issues. The 90-level devices (a 60-level is available) have ClearComm, a setting for everyday use and conversation.
THE SOUNDGEAR PHANTOM
Hearing protection is a hot topic, and it should be. Experts know more about hearing loss and enhancement today than ever before. For this reason, more hearing protection/ enhancement products have hit the market. One I’ve been eyeing is OtoPro’s Soundgear Phantom.
These Bluetooth rechargeable wonders sport an updated hearing circuit for improved sound quality, available for purchase as a single bud ($799.50) or a pair ($1,599). OtoPro updated the preset listening modes to include more sophisticated wind noise control.
These things are loaded with features. Users can stream audio from their phone or tablet wirelessly and still control the streaming volume separately from the amplification volume of their surroundings, which is cool.
I have researched and read several testimonials from hunters who claim they can listen to music or a podcast and still hear leaves rustle from a distance. Of course, Bluetooth connection means you can also use the buds for daily activities.
Don’t put off protecting your hearing any longer because you don’t want to wear bulky, cumbersome and uncomfortable headphones in the field. Do some research and find a quality set of earbuds that will protect and enhance your hearing. It’s money well spent, I promise.