While very few duck hunters use it, waterfowl hunting hearing protection can not only save your sense of hearing, but it can actually improve the hunt too.

If you’re a waterfowl hunter, you understand the addiction of hearing whistling wings overhead in the pre-dawn hours from a marshy blind. Or the honks from a distant flock of geese making its way toward your flooded cornfield. Or even just the duck blind camaraderie between flocks when hunting with buddies. They’re all special and help make waterfowl hunting what it is. But what if you couldn’t hear those things anymore because your decades of hunting damaged your ears? This happens to hunters all the time. That’s why we strongly urge you to use waterfowl hunting hearing protection every time you go out. Here are some more details to consider as we ramp up for this upcoming season.

Why Use Hearing Protection for Waterfowl Hunting?

When you look at just the facts, everything becomes a lot clearer: why wouldn’t you use hearing protection? A single 12-gauge shotgun blast at close range can produce a sound of 155 decibels, which is far over the 85 decibels it takes to cause permanent hearing damage (when not wearing hearing protection). Now, how many times do you shoot during an average duck hunt? A lot of that depends on the ducks, your location and how good a shot you are, I suppose, but it’s likely a fair amount. And each of those shots causes cumulative hearing damage. If you add that up over a lifetime of duck hunting, you could have ears so damaged that you’ll one day need hearing aids just to follow conversations in your kitchen. Does that sound fun to anyone?


Besides the obvious issues associated with hearing loss from hunting, there are other risks associated with not using waterfowl hunting hearing protection. For example, did you know that hearing loss is one of the main risk factors that can predict the likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in older age? In fact, even moderate hearing loss can result in three times the risk of these diseases. Hunting without hearing protection in younger years is just not worth the risk of developing these serious diseases later in life.

Options for Waterfowl Hunting Hearing Protection

If there is any way you can protect your ears from the extremely loud sounds of gunshots and duck or goose calling, you should do it. But there’s a reason most people don’t rely on standard foam earplugs or earmuffs: they don’t allow you to hear incoming ducks and geese, nor your hunting buddies. That can complicate things and maybe even cost you a shot on occasion. Most goose or duck hunters just don’t want to deal with that chance, so they elect to not use any hearing protection at all. As we discussed above, that’s a big mistake.

Our patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization (STO) technology actually enhances the frequencies of sounds that waterfowl hunters need to hear (e.g., whistling wings, duck calls, etc.), but protects your ears at the same time from loud gunshots and duck/goose calling sounds. Essentially, it amplifies the sounds you want to hear but shuts off and protects your ears from anything that’s too loud and could cause permanent damage. TETRA has many options to help waterfowl hunters in this respect. 

  • Waterfowl – this product line is optimized for keying in on duck hunting sounds, while providing hearing protection from loud calling and gunshots.
  • Wingshooter – in addition to waterfowl sounds and hearing protection, this product also keys in on upland and clay shooting sounds.
  • Gun Dog – very similar to the Wingshooter products, these items key in on waterfowl and upland or clay shooting sounds while protecting your ears from loud gunshots.
  • Multi-Pursuit – these general products are optimized for deer, elk, turkey, waterfowl, upland game, and shooting range sounds, while providing hearing protection from loud gunshots. They are a well-rounded option for those who dabble (forgive the pun) outside of duck hunting.

In addition to these different types of waterfowl hunting hearing protection, we offer products in both AlphaShield and CustomShield designs. The AlphaShield products are a universal fit design with adjustable and comfortable tips. The CustomShield products are custom molded to fit your specific ear canal for the best possible performance and ultimate comfort.

How to Hunt with Hearing Protection

As we mentioned, it can be tough to hunt many animals when using foam earplugs or earmuffs. They essentially isolate you from all sounds, including the typical warning signs (e.g., duck calls or sounds of wings approaching you). If you miss the warning cue, you may not swing in time and could miss the shot. What’s more, if you hunt with friends or family in a marsh blind or layout blind, it will be even harder to hear each other talk. It’s just not very practical and is largely why they have not been used by waterfowl hunters to date.

But when you consider electronic hearing protection devices, such as TETRA Hearing products for waterfowl hunting hearing protection, you get rid of that disadvantage and even add some advantages to your side. For example, you can whisper to your hunting party and hold a conversation better while using hearing protection. Should birds come by, you don’t need to suddenly put them on to reap the hearing protection benefits (which would be very impractical anyway). Any sudden loud noises (i.e., gunshots) will trigger the noise protection to kick in so your ears stay safe. In fact, by isolating and amplifying the sounds you want to hear, our devices can potentially even alert you to incoming waterfowl before you would detect them on your own. That additional moment of warning can give you the time you need to shoot better. The downside to that? You might need to get rid of some of your usual excuses for why you miss (i.e., “I couldn’t hear them coming” or “the birds surprised me”).

All things considered, I think most of us would happily give up those excuses – and accept the reality we need to spend more time at the shooting range – if it would mean protecting our ears more. Given the long-term cumulative effects of hearing loss and serious diseases due to hunting without hearing protection, don’t risk it anymore. Consider investing in a pair of waterfowl hunting hearing protection devices today.