As an audiologist for 27 years, I’ve treated hundreds of duck hunters for hearing loss. Looking back on all the hunters I’ve taken care of, by far the ones with the most severe hearing loss are the duck hunters – for a bunch of good reasons. Duck hunters have the longest season, do the most shooting, and are around lots of other shooters. However the other BIG part of duck hunting that is VERY bad for causing hearing loss – the loud duck calling.
In terms of the loud duck calling, how bad is it for your hearing?
TETRA's AlphaShield optimizes duck hunting sounds while providing hearing protection from loud calling and gunshots.
Unfortunately, very bad – almost ridiculously bad. When it comes to loud noise causing hearing loss, it’s all about the overall volume of the sound (measured in dB SPL) versus duration of the sound (exposure time). The louder the sound input, the worse for hearing; the longer the exposure time to that loud sound, the worse for hearing.
Herein lies the double whammy: While gunshots are short duration, they are very loud (150+ dB SPL). Duck calling is not quite as loud as a gunshot (120 dB SPL), but the duck hunter is exposed for a much longer time across a typical duck hunt. As a point of reference, OSHA allows works to be exposed to 90 dB SPL up to eight hours per day. For every 5 dB increase in volume, exposure time should be cut in half. So listening time for a 95 dB sound is only safe for four hours, or 100 dB sound for two hours.
During our field research at TETRA, we've measured calling to be as loud as 120 dB very frequently, which is well over the safe limit. On several hunts, the hunters were exposed to their weekly allowable noise levels in less an hour of hunting – just from the calling, without even a single shot fired.
Gunshots and loud calling together are responsible for creating permanent hearing loss in duck hunters.
It's considered safe to listen to 85 dB SPL up to eight hours per day. A single gunshot is nearly double that at 150+ dB SPL.
Everyone knows, deep inside, that all the loudness associated with great duck hunts – lots of shooting, lots of calling, lots of limits – is simply not good for the unprotected ear. But for generations, hunters have continued to make the decision to not use hearing protection while hunting, mostly because the available product choices would make the duck hunting experience crappy.
This issue was indeed the driving force for these two hearing doctors, and lifelong duck hunters, to build TETRA as a company. Our goal was to make a premium hearing protection product so good that the duck hunter will gladly accept wearing it all day, on each and every hunt. At TETRA, we are proud to 100 percent commit to all hunters that “Hearing Protection Doesn’t Have to Suck.” With this all-in commitment, finally, the duck hunter can fully enjoy the hunt, blow the call, shoot ducks and protect their hearing.
Bill Dickinson, AuD