Do You Use Protection When You’re in the Woods?

If you’ve ever been hunting and was poked in the eye by a tree limb or had someone shoot a gun too closely to your ears, you likely thought twice about going out again without some kind of protection.

MuffsI’m 47 years old. Using hearing and eye protection when I was a kid wasn’t exactly ignored, but it wasn’t something we thought of too greatly. My father was good about bringing some ear muffs to the range when we shot our rifles. They were inexpensive and, while offering some protection, didn’t provide as much as today’s models.

I played my music loudly — metal and country, thank you — and did what teenagers back then usually did. I ignored the cautionary advice of elders about wearing hearing protection, eye protection and using sunscreen in summer. If you got sunburned, you toughed it out, peeled off the dead skin and went out anyway.

Since then, of course, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to be in my 60s and have more hearing problems. I already have tinnitus, or ringing of the ears. Sounds like buzzing all the time. My eyes are in pretty good shape, although I wear bifocals (hate ’em!) or contacts, and I use sunscreen pretty regularly now. I guess with age comes some wisdom.

I’m more concerned with my hearing and vision, though. When I’m at the range I’ll have some kind of sunglasses. I typically also have some foam ear plugs or Walker’s Power Muffs in my truck and shooting bag. The plugs do a passable job, but I really like the Power Muffs for their capability to enhance sounds while shutting off momentarily at higher decibels to protect my hearing.

Taking care of your vision and hearing isn’t unmanly. It’s pretty smart, actually, so we can hear and see better when we’re in the woods chasing turkeys or deer, or at the range enjoying a day with our guns.

— Alan Clemons, Southern Managing Editor