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Hunters Often Overlook Hearing Protection

While most shooters would never walk onto an active gun range without ear plugs or muffs in place, hunters who use firearms tend to neglect precautions to protect their hearing.

In the heat of the hunt, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Yet every shot at a bird, deer or elk erodes one of our most valuable hunting assets.

“Shooter’s ear – we see it every day in our business,” said Lance Kraemer of Starkey Hearing Technologies, a manufacturer of hearing aids and electronic hearing protection.

“And every day we hear from hunters who wish they’d been clued in on hearing protection at a younger age.”

Procrastination used to be understandable. Ear plugs may prevent a hunter from hearing the wing beat of a flushing pheasant or the snap of a stick that might indicate a deer is approaching.

But technology has erased the shortcomings of the standard ear plug. Excuses for neglecting hearing protection in the field are obsolete.

A single gunshot, rated at about 140dB, can cause permanent hearing damage, according to government guidelines. Maybe it’s just a little at a time, but the damage adds up hunt after hunt.

Bird hunters who shoot multiple rounds a day are at high risk, especially waterfowl hunters in a blind where they are bombarded with the deafening muzzle blast from their partners’ guns as well as their own.

Ear plugs of some sort should be on the required equipment list for every member of every family headed to the field to hunt with a firearm.

Inexpensive ear plugs with noise-suppressing mechanical baffles ($10-$15) are a viable alternative for any budget.

But any plug must be properly inserted. “Foam plugs are notorious for working out slightly so they’re offering less than 50 percent of maximum protection,” Kraemer said, citing Occupational Safety and Health Administration research.

I’ve been using standard ear plugs while hunting for decades, but not before I’d already lost some hearing acuity. Even in my protective years, it’s been hard to be consistent at plugging my ears.

For instance, while hunting wild turkeys, I usually insert ear plugs before taking a stand and calling. But I often remove the plugs when I’m moving or setting up again for a better chance of hearing distant yelping or gobbling.

More than once I’ve had a gobbler come into sight unexpectedly while my plugs were out. Since the movement of reinserting the plugs could spook a sharp-eyed tom, I’ll bite the bullet, call the bird and perhaps take the shot with ears unprotected.

Technology has made these lapses of protection unnecessary.

Trapshooters and other gun-range enthusiasts have been steadfastly using electronic hearing protection for years. Amplified muffs allow a shooter to hear conversations normally while instantly suppressing the sharp noise of a gunshot.

Muffs are very effective and continue to be my choice at a shooting range. In fact, I used the maximum protection of ear plugs combined with muffs to safely endure a Ted Nugent rock concert after interviewing the celebrity notorious for being extremely loud.

Bulky muffs aren’t always handy in the field, but small, convenient electronic alternatives are available.

Some manufacturers are using hearing aid technology to produce electronic hearing protection devices, with automatic noise suppression, that are no more bothersome than ear plugs. Models come in three styles:

. Custom (about $1,200).

. In the canal (about $400).

. Behind the ear with a tube to the plug in the canal (about $300).

I field tested two of these types with positive results.

In-the-canal models are ready to use out of the box. The tiny devices come with different sized soft-rubber covers that fit the product in the ear like a regular ear plug.

Custom models are fitted by hearing-aid dealers, who make an impression of your ear canal for a perfect and comfortable fit. These larger devices also have more features and volume adjustments.

Electronic hearing protection devices are not considered hearing aids, although they share some of the same technology.

“Most hearing aids don’t have a seal; they’re vented,” Kraemer said. “They let air into the ear so the user can hear ambient sound to prevent the feeling of having the ear plugged in everyday living.

“A hearing aid can be adjusted so it won’t amplify damaging loud sounds, but since there’s no seal, a hearing aid is not providing ear protection.”

Also, hearing aids are custom-engineered to pick up frequencies an individual is missing. “There’s a lot more science involved in a hearing aid, hence the extra cost,” Kraemer said.

The SoundGear custom and in-canal products I tested provide about the same amount of protection as a properly inserted foam plug. The big difference is that the user can hear normally as though the ear isn’t plugged.

The digital sound enhancement has a slightly unnatural sharpness but is not uncomfortable or distracting.

The custom model with volume adjustment enhances hearing with high-definition sound reproduction that’s especially useful when hunting from a stand.

The amplification is meant to compensate only for the hearing loss from insertion of the device. However, while the manufacturer can’t claim hearing enhancement, I found a clear improvement with both models in what I could hear without the devices in place.

I spend a lot more time listening to chickadees and other critters than I do absorbing the blast of a gunshot, but I want to be equipped for both.

The electronic hearing protection models I tested have a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) of 24-25dB. That means a muzzle blast rated at 140dB, which poses immediate danger to hearing, is reduced to about 115 dB – the rate of a baby’s cry or a jet ski.

National standards say 115dB will cause hearing damage if sustained for 15 minutes.

Electronic devices use sound-activated compression to trigger instant suppression of any noise over 95dB.

“These products are bringing noise down into a safer range,” Kraemer said. “You’re still exposed to loud sounds, but at a safer level. The guideline is that exposure to noise over 85db for eight hours will cause permanent damage.

“The biggest problem is that most hunters don’t wear any ear protection at all, not even kids,” he said. “They rationalize that they’ll only take a few shots.”

Take this advice from someone who’s already lost the joy of hearing the cascading call of a canyon wren or the distant bugle of a bull elk: protect your hearing with something.

If you want the best performance, buy electronic protection devices that will guard your hearing from muzzle blasts while helping you hear clearly for better communication, hunting success and safety in the woods.

Let’s hope that educated observation doesn’t fall on deaf ears.





Browning® Buckmark Semiautomatic Rimfire Pistols

o Renowned for accuracy and reliability
o Built to exacting tolerances
o Ergonomic Interactive Surface grips for consistent aim
o 10+1 capacity

Browning Buckmark semiautomatic pistols set a standard of excellence in .22-cal. rimfire firearms. Each is CNC-machined to exacting tolerances from a solid block of 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum. Crisp, single-action triggers team with hand-reamed chambers and target crowns on the barrels to enhance accuracy. Grips incorporate Ergonomic Interactive Surface technology for optimal control, comfort and consistent aim. Renowned for accuracy, these pistols deliver exceptional performance for small-game hunters and target shooters. All come with 10-round magazines.


Practical – A durable, affordable general utility pistol with a name that says it all. The alloy frame sports a matte-gray finish, while the 5-1/2″ bull barrel has a matte-blued finish. Ergonomic Ultragrip RX ambidextrous all-weather grips. Adjustable Pro-Target™ rear sight, TRUGLO®/Marble’s fiber-optic front sight.

• Plus Matte Blued/Walnut UDX – Matte-blued finish on the frame and receiver complements the walnut Ultragrip DX™ ambidextrous grips. Ergonomic design with finger grooves for a pleasing feel in the hand. 5-1/2″ slab-side barrel mated to a blowback action with a single-action trigger. Adjustable Pro-Target rear sight, TRUGLO/Marble’s® fiber-optic front sight.

• Camper Kit – The tapered 5-1/2″ bull barrel and fully adjustable sights make it a real tack driver. Composite black grips sport checkering to enhance grip in any weather. Choose a Camper with all matte-blued finish or select a version with a black frame and stainless steel barrel slide in a kit that includes three 10-round magazines and a zippered soft-sided pistol case.

• Camper Blued UFX – The upgraded overmolded Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grip with slight finger grooves fits just about any hand size making it feel right at home in yours. It’s excellent for plinking, competition and shooting leagues. Adjustable Pro-Target sights. Matte blued finish.

• Camper Stainless UFX – It has the same features as the Camper UFX, including upgraded overmolded Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grip with slight finger grooves to fit just about any hand size making it feel right at home in yours. It’s excellent for plinking, competition and shooting leagues. Adjustable Pro-Target sights. It features a sleek matte stainless steel, tapered bull barrel to complement the matte-blued-finish receiver.

• Hunter – Engineered to take on pests and varmints with exceptional accuracy. The heavy-tapered bull barrel is topped with a TRUGLO/Marble’s fiber-optic front sight and integral scope rail (scope not included). Adjustable Pro-Target rear sight. Smooth cocobolo-wood target grips. Matte-blued finish.

• Buckmark Lite Gray 5.5 – Alloy-sleeved, fluted barrel with Ultragrip RX™, the latest in grip technology. The finger grooves, laser stippling and wave patterns form an Ergonomic Interactive Surface (EIS) putting your hand in the same place on the grip for every shot. Adjustable Pro-Target rear sight, TRUGLO/Marble’s fiber-optic front sight. Matte gray finish.

• Buckthorn Pink – Alloy frame and tapered 5-1/2″ bull barrel display an eye-catching thorny pink finish. Pink overmolded Ultragrip FX ambidextrous grips provide ergonomic finger grooves for better control. Pro-Target adjustable sights deliver a 16-click fine-tuned range of adjustment. Two safety mechanisms ensure piece of mind: a large, manual thumb safety and trigger disconnection when the magazine is removed.

7 Tips to Survive Cold-Weather Camping

Shooters Gun Shop Camping

Shooters Gun Shop CampingWinter camping can be fun, but it can also be just plain cold.

It’s cold. It’s snowing. And it’s a great time for a camping trip. Whether you are camping as part of a hunting trip, or going just to enjoy the outdoors, cold-weather camping can be just as enjoyable as in the warmer months. The moon makes the snow-draped forest glow, and the retreat of the summertime campers means you have plenty of space to yourself.

But a winter camping trip requires a little more thought and planning than your average summer outing. Peter Kummerfeldt, a wilderness survival expert who teaches outdoor skills through his company, OutdoorSafe, has camped out in minus 45 F temperatures while working at the Air Force Survival School in Alaska. His winter survival tips can help a camper navigate extreme conditions as well as less daunting trips closer to home.

Dress Properly

You want clothes that can keep you warm during periods of inactivity. Chances are you’ll create plenty of heat during that back-country trek, but it’s tougher to maintain a comfortable temperature when you stop moving.

So layer up. Start with polyester thermal underwear for the base layer. Choose breathable fleece to inhibit the accumulation of perspiration during exertion. If you prefer natural fibers, choose merino wool and wool-fleece blends that offer the warmth of wool without the itchiness. Pack a scarf or neck gaiter that you can take off and on easily to regulate body temperature, and take a lightweight jacket that is both waterproof and breathable.

Layering can also keep your head and feet warm. Fleece or wool stocking caps can be made windproof when covered with a detachable hood. Leave your cotton socks at home. Instead, choose wool (merino wool won’t be itchy) or wicking polyester socks designed for hiking. Boots don’t have to be expensive, but they should be waterproof or water-repellent, especially if you plan on hiking through snow.

Never Neglect Your Hands

To keep those digits warm, pack polyester glove liners and gloves, then gauntlets to layer over them. Stock up on chemical heating pads for when you need a little heat boost.

Think Fire

When you arrive at your campsite, start your fire before doing any other setup. Plan ahead and always pack fire sources. You can go low-tech with tightly packed dryer lint stuffed into old pill bottles or film canisters, or high-tech with magnesium fire starters.

Choose the Right Campsite

Summer campers might prefer the shadiest and most secluded spot. In winter, however, the morning sun can be a welcome companion. Take note of where the sun will first appear at sunrise, and angle your tent to take advantage of the early rays while shielding the door from the wind.

Hydrate, Then Hydrate Some More

You may not feel thirsty in cold weather, but staying hydrated is just as important in winter as it is in summer. Drink water (warm or cold), hot tea, or hot chocolate—the latter also provides high-calorie fuel for your outdoor adventure.

Be Ready for Condensation

As you breathe in a warm tent on a cold night, condensation will form on your tent, even if it’s a four-season model. Be ready for it to “snow” down on you in the morning. There’s not a lot you can do about condensation, but the next morning be sure to dry out your sleeping bag before using it again. To minimize condensation, you can vent your tent at night—it won’t hold in heat as well, but it will stay dryer.

Wear Your Clothes to Bed

The old wisdom of stripping down before you get into a sleeping bag doesn’t make sense. Put on everything you brought before you turn in for the night. And if the campfire is still going, heat some water, pour it into a heat-proof water bottle, and snuggle into your bag with it.

Winter is a great time for a camping trip. The key to a successful excursion is to remember that even a little bit of heat can go a long way.

Read more: “7 Tips to Survive Cold-Weather Camping”, posted by

Plan ahead to make your cold-weather camping trip comfortable and memorable. CONTACT us to let us know what you are looking for, or stop by Shooters Gun Shop to pick up all of your camping essentials before your next trip!

Deer Hunting Tips

Shooters Gun Shop Deer Hunting

Shooters Gun Shop Deer HuntingRemember, experience can never substitute for any list of hunting tips, so always seek out others who have deer hunted or landowners whose land you may be hunting. Seek mentors. They are invaluable when it comes to learning to enjoy the sport safely and successfully.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Safety is always the most important aspect to keep in mind. Nothing matters more than firearm and tree-stand safety. And ALWAYS identify your target as a legal deer before putting your finger on the trigger. Never consider shooting at sounds in the brush.
  • Talk to landowner about deer patterns and locations. He probably knows where the deer travel and gather.
  • Always wear a safety belt or harness while in a tree stand, and never climb into a tree with a loaded gun.
  • During the breeding season or the rut (generally between late October through November), deer can be seen most anytime of the day. Other times, morning and evening are the most likely time when you will see their activity.
  • Deer are edge creatures. They are often found at the edge of a field or clearing in the woods.
  • A deer’s nose is its best defense. Try to position yourself along a deer trail up from the prevailing wind.
  • Next are its ears and eyes. Try to remain motionless, especially if you spot an approaching deer.
  • Patience is mandatory.
  • Snow-covered ground is a deer hunter’s dream because it reveals a deer’s tracks and makes moving deer more visible.
  • Aim broadside. It’s best to shoot a deer when it turns broadside to you. You are more likely to inflict a quick, fatal shot, thus ensuring your harvest and causing less trauma to the deer with a clean kill. The heart is located about 4 to 6 inches behind the left “elbow” of the front leg and where a hunter should aim. This is called the “kill zone.”

Try Archery Hunting

Bowhunting is one of he fastest-growing hunting sports because of the advances in technology, most notably the compound bow. Interestingly, the compound bow was developed right here in Missouri. In 1946, less than 100 participated in Missouri’s first archery hunt, while today the number is more than 100,000, with hunters using either compound bows, longbows or recurve bows. Hunters with a medical exemption may use crossbows.

Why deer hunters like bowhunting:

  • It’s more challenging.
  • The season is longer. Archery deer season is divided into two sections, and it is considerably longer (96 days) than the various firearm seasons.
  • There’s less competition. The season begins earlier, and there are fewer hunters in the woods.

Archery hunting tips:

  • Adjust your range. A bowhunter’s range is generally between 10 and 60 yards. As a result, a bowhunter must be especially skilled in knowing deer patterns and tendencies, then set his stand accordingly. Most deer kills are within 30 yards.
  • Hide your scent and read the wind direction before you begin hunting.
  • Strengthen your arms. A bowhunter must be able to pull back on a deer while it is relatively close but without straining or making undue motion or sound. Most hunting bows are adjusted to 50 to 70 pounds of pull, meaning the amount (in pounds) to pull the string back 28 inches. Less than a 50-pound pull is not recommended.
  • Sharpen your accuracy. A shot to the kill zone is much more critical with bowhunting than with firearms hunting.
  • Practice, practice, practice. There are various kinds of archery targets on the market that allow arrows, with both field tips and hunting broadheads, to be retrieved and used over. Use practice arrows with the same weight and length as your hunting arrows. Practice with targets set at varying distances until you can place several arrows to within 6 inches of one another in a bull’s eye.
  • Wear good camouflage. Missouri bowhunters are not required to wear hunter orange. Because you must get close enough to your target to hit the kill zone, it is essential to wear clothing (camouflage) that allows you to blend into the natural landscape.
  • Practice tree-stand safety. You should never climb a tree into a stand with an arrow in the ready or nocked position, nor should you travel to a hunting spot with your arrow ready to shoot. There have been incidents when a bowhunter has fallen and been severely injured or bled to death as a result of landing on a broadhead.
  • Consult. Seek out experienced bowhunters for their input and encouragement.

Read more “Deer Hunting Tips” posted by the Missouri Department of Conservation

Stop by Shooters Gun Shop in Cape Girardeau for all of you hunting needs. We have a big selection of bows and accessories, and everything you need for shotgun season. Take a look at our PRODUCTS page, view our inventory list or give us a call at (573)-651-9091.


Shooters Gun Shop Inc.
335 Christine St. Suite 101
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703


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Phone: (573) 651-9091