10 Reasons Every Hunter Should Be a Fan of Suppressors

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When I'm an old burlap bag of skin and bones, hook me up to the oxygen tank and ferry me out to the duck blind, wheelbarrow me to the roosting fields. I might be wearing Depends in my waders or shooting a .410 with the help of a pulley system and some zip ties, but I'll still be a hunter even when I'm a living antique.

What I don't want to be is deaf. I want to be able to hear the whistle of wings buzzing decoys. I want to hear antlers lock, fish tailing and the haunting, prophetic bugle of a lone bull echo across a valley floor.

I want to be able to enjoy, hopefully, the laughs of my grandchildren without hearing aids.

If I continue at the rate I'm going, I won't be able to hear any of these things by the time I get there.

Last year in Northeast Ohio, two late-season mallards materialized out of the curtain of snow, decoyed and immediately retook to the air as though the water was electric. The pair lighted hard right and my partner swung on them, firing two fast shots — his receiver inches from my head — leaving my right ear just shy of deaf for three days.

It happened again this season. Now, if you catcall me at 4,000 Hz, I won't hear it. I've learned my lesson the hard way.

A rap sheet of rock concerts, annual July 4th fireworks shows, factory work, prolonged exposure to outboard motors, even the harsher episodes of my mother deservedly scolding the younger, insubordinate me — you name it; not one of these puts the fear of hearing loss into me as does the bark of a firearm.

Now, I hear what you're saying (sort of) and I agree: The use of hearing protection when waterfowling puts the hunter at a disadvantage. Your open ears will hear a long distance goose call before the bird is ever in sight. I'm with you, I know. The same argument can be made for the hunter who needs to make a quick shot upon hearing a deer crunching leaves or a backside pheasant flushing. Indubitably, I concur.

Regardless, hearing protection should be used in any hunting situation involving a firearm, no matter the excuse. It's better to pass on a shot than pass on ever being able to hear the game again.

Hunters will easily find on today's market a handful of noise-cancelling, electronic hearing protection devices that pass as a compromise, but a touch of mud, a quick dip in the water or a descent from a treestand can leave one of these gadgets out of commission in a hurry.

There is another option: suppressors. Though you should still wear hearing protection even when using a suppressor, if you had to choose between muting your surroundings, not using any protection at all or at least greatly decreasing the report of your firearm, the latter is a formidable option.

Beyond hearing safety, the use of suppressors offers hunters and shooting enthusiasts additional payoffs that are so often overshadowed by the focus on acoustic effectiveness or the toxic, misconstrued cocktail Hollywood spoon feeds us when it comes to "silencers."

Determine for yourself which method you prefer when it comes to hearing safety in the field. But when you can't figure out which works better — your fingers, plugs or the eventual accumulation of dead inner ear cells — those of you hunting in permitting states, be sure to consider the suppressor. Here's why.

Photos provided by SilencerCo.

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