Sitting hidden away beneath the overhanging lip of the hill, covered from head to toe in camouflage clothing, quietly waiting for a wild dog to answer my calls.  Again and again my mournful howls echoed through the hills and gullies with no answers coming back to me.  Well, as far as I could hear there were no answers, maybe if my hearing was a little better there might have been an answer.  Suddenly a growling bark behind me nearly made me crack my neck, my head turned so fast.  There standing at the top of the hill where they had circled behind me were three wild dogs.  As I turned, closing my bolt at the same time, I knew that it was too late as the tips of their tails were the last thing my eyes saw before they disappeared from view.  Getting to the top of the hill as fast as was possible, naturally it was too late as they had dropped from sight into the myriad tangle of gullies behind.  Maybe, just maybe, if my hearing was as good as it used to be, possibly I might have heard them coming. 

    This was not the first time that wild dogs had snuck in behind me without my hearing them and the last time when out deer hunting, if my hearing had been a little better, the great fallow buck might have been heard before he spotted me.  It was time to bite the bullet and do something about my hearing.  Previously having been to the ear, nose and throat specialist and having my hearing tested. The result was that both of my ears were way down in the high register from prolonged exposure to gunfire and power tools.  This meant that I have trouble hearing high pitched sounds and certain lower decibel noises.  A few weeks later I was the owner of two new hearing aids which now live in my top drawer at home, as they used to whistle and drive others crazy and I couldn’t hear the whistle because it was too high pitched, they made my ears hurt and gave me many ear infections from wearing them. When people tell me I am a deaf old bugger and should get some hearing aids, I tell them I have two hearing aids at home  in my top drawer as they don’t make me hear any better.     
     While at a friends place in far north Qld. he had some ear muffs that he loaned me to try out and blow me down if they not only cut out the loud noise when shooting, but they also amplified other small noises that I normally couldn’t hear.  The cogs started to whirr, then after arriving home an order was placed for a set of Pro Ears seeing as they are reputedly the best to be had.  When they finally arrived the first thing I did was try to read the bloody instructions, as usually they are never read and something or another stuffs up, seeing as my brain matter seems to soak things in more slowly than the average person. You will notice I said,”Try to read the instructions” There were no instructions, so that was a bonus. All I had to do was put the batteries in each headset and they were ready to go. Each earphone had its own dedicated switch and volume control and it was just a matter of tuning them for my hearing.  Suddenly I could hear the wind in the trees outside and a gnawing, grating sound which when investigated turned out to be the dog down the yard chewing on a bone.

      Walking across the yard my footsteps could be heard on the grass and melodious bird calls were coming from the trees above and around me.  My wife started going crook at me for something and unfortunately I could now hear her.  There’s always a downside to everything I suppose, but at least she could be switched off.  If she reads this, I’ll probably get switched off.  Anyway, that evening while watching a show on TV, putting the Pro Ears on, I could actually hear what was being said and didn’t have to keep asking my wife what was said.  She thought that was pretty good, as she always missed the next bit whenever I spoke to her and used to berate me all the time. The thing that was starting to worry me now was that my hearing was so acute to every little sound while wearing these ear muffs, then how was it going to go when shooting my rifles, surely there was still going to be a fair bang when firing?  A few days later my chance came to test them while live firing and it’s just amazing how they work. 
      Even though every other sound around me could be heard, the split millisecond of noise when the shot was fired was dropped to a slightly lower decibel of actual sound.  The shots still sounded like normal gunshots but not so loud and when shooting at the 100mtre steel gong the sound of the hit could still be heard. My old muffs used to cut out all of the sounds and when someone spoke to you, you just couldn’t hear.  Also you do tend to shout at others while you have normal ear muffs on .To my way of thinking, these Pro Ears ear muffs are great.  The one I finally settled on was the Pro Ears Predator Plus. They are cut away at the bottom in a sleek low profile so as not to interfere with your rifle stock while shooting.  They also have individual controls, therefore no wires and they give true stereo sound.  The ear piece is made of soft leather that won’t sweat like plastic and is reasonably comfortable to wear.  The dangerous level sound control, DLSC, protects the wearer from dangerous noise levels while allowing softer sounds and normal conversation to be heard at the same time.
     I am very happy with my choice and would recommend that all hunters-shooters get some sort of hearing protection for themselves and especially for their children.  The type of muffs I purchased would be especially good for children, as they could still hear you when you want to explain something to them while at a range or out shooting.  This is really a great safety feature in its self, because if a child had normal muffs or ear plugs in and didn’t hear an important instruction, it could prove dangerous.  We must protect the hearing of the younger generation as well as our own.  I can hardly wait to wear my new ear muffs on my next deer hunting foray, where for a change I will actually be able to hear the myriad sounds of the bush just as well as the next person.  

Ted Mitchell Snr

 

Footnote;

My choice of ear muffs might not be the same as others.  I found the Predator Plus in the Pro Ears to do the job well for me; you may wish to try a different brand. That is everyone’s prerogative.  Get whatever suits you best, but DO look after your children’s hearing, as all of my boys have some hearing loss do to repeated gunfire. Yes I am guilty of not making them wear hearing protection all the time, my excuse being there wasn’t much in the way of hearing protection back in those days and quite frankly, no one ever thought much about it or cared back then.  Make sure that you care.

Ted

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