ears 1

Hearing & Hunting: Best Hearing Protection for Duck Hunting

You should know the risks before you go out to hunt!

So, let’s discuss some important things to consider before buying earplugs.

We have reviewed many different types of earplugs on the market and found that duck hunting earplugs are the best. They are comfortable, and they will provide you with quality protection from the sound of gunfire.

To find out more, read this article! ... and get your ducks!

What to consider before buying duck hunting earplugs

So hunting season is here again, your shotgun is clean and ready, you have a supply of ammunition, and you are prepared to go. Your buddy calls you asking if you have a spare safety vest, and while you are talking to him, you realize you can’t hear him that well!

Or maybe you hear a faint ringing sound? If you are a hunter and still have perfect hearing, then you are one of the lucky ones! Hi-visibility jackets are not the only essential safety item when hunting, or doing any kind of shooting. You also need hearing protection, and that is precisely what we are going to discuss in this article.

When you are shooting, you need to get the right sort of ear protection. It is not the same as when you are on a range or doing something more organized, like skeet shooting.

There can be people where you don’t expect them, so being able to hear what is going on in the environment, even with ear protection, is essential – hearing commands and warnings clearly, and to a lesser extent being able to hear those ducks is also vital.

Note. When referring to duck hunting ear protection, it is the same for any waterfowl hearing protection.

I know a great deal about hearing protection, as I left it too late and have bad tinnitus now. This can never be cured, so I am going to have to live with ringing in my ears for the rest of my life. But you don’t have to. I have done all the research on hearing protection – including when duck hunting, and put together all of my findings in this post.

Just keep reading, and in a few minutes you will know the answers to all the essential questions, and will save your hearing – Oh, and don’t forget about your dog’s ears!

Why Protect The Ears When Firing A Gun

As I am sure everyone knows, guns are loud – REALLY loud, and loud noises damage hearing. Usually, this damage to hearing is slow, and it takes several years before there are any noticeable problems. But guns are so loud that hearing damage can be immediate.

When you are shooting duck, you really need the best ear protection. As a hunter, you probably know a few people who shoot regularly and have hearing difficulties.

This does not need to be a problem, and ear muffs do not need to be too expensive to make your hearing last your entire life. But you do need to wear ear protection when hunting, and you need the right type of protection.

man shotgun ear protection0

Ear Plugs For Shooting Activities

When shooting, there are really three types of plug available, depending on the situation:

Shooting Range.

You want plugs that stop all the sound, or as much noise as possible. On a shooting range, people are firing, and standing in set places, so there is little chance of someone being accidentally shot? So hearing instructions is less critical.

There will be many people shooting, so hearing can be damaged quickly. In this situation, you are best with cheap disposable foam earplugs, with a good quality pair of ear muffs over the top for double protection.

This would not be a good choice of hearing protection for the times you are shooting duck

Skeet Shooting (Clay Pigeon Shooting).

In this situation, people are going to again be in set positions. So hearing protection is more important than hearing instructions and the environment. You will look around a lot for the targets so that earmuffs may get in the way.

For this type of shooting, a pair of in-ear custom molded ear plugs are probably the best solution. These fit your ear perfectly, blocking most of the sound.

These are the cheaper plugs and stop all sound indiscriminately. They are perfect for places like shooting ranges where there are a lot of shots being fired, as they are better at protecting your hearing.

Hunting (Including Duck Hunting).

When hunting, you do not want to be wearing muffs that are so effective that you cannot hear what is going on in the environment around you. Anyone who is firing and cannot hear instructions, commands, or shouts of danger, is a risk to everyone in the area, and themselves.

The number of shots over time is usually much lower than on a shooting range. So the importance of plugs that allow you to hear instructions is of paramount importance!

That’s why here you need plugs that will enable you to hear, but suppress most of the extreme noise that occurs when a gun is fired, so that is it not damaging. These come in electronic form, or plastic with a small hole.

The electronic versions are much better, and have a significant advantage over noise-blocking plugs, or wearing no plugs at all. They work similarly to the more common noise-canceling headphones. The muffs you are wearing still block out as much of the sound as they can, but there is a microphone fitted to each earmuff.

This records the sounds and plays them back into a speaker in the muffs. When a deafening sound is detected that could damage hearing is identified, it is not replayed to the speaker. (You will hear it anyway as it is so loud) Or it is played back at a much lower volume that will now not cause any damage

How Fast Gunfire Damages Your Hearing

As everyone knows, guns are loud. Susan E. Terry, Au.D, an audiologist says

“Gunfire is about the worst thing you can do to your unprotected ears. Gunfire is impact noise and is more of an assault on your ears than a constant noise would be. Anytime you’ve got impact noise. You’re going to have issues.”

For example, a typical gun is a 12-gauge shotgun. It is recommended that in your work, wear hearing protection if the volume is an average of 85 decibels. For a quick single sound, about 120dB is considered by most to be safe. A 12-gauge is over 150dB!

“A single blast can cause lasting hearing loss and tinnitus. Once the damage is done, there’s no taking it back.”

Exposure to noise higher than 140 dB can immediately and permanently damage your hearing. Almost every firearm will be louder than this, with large-bore rifles going up to 175dB.

So you can see how important it is to get the best earplugs when duck hunting!

It can affect your life! One hunter said –
“I had a great job offer come up, but couldn’t pass the physical because of my hearing. I’m only 30, can’t imagine how bad it will be if I don’t get serious about it soon.”

Man gun ear and eye protection0

Recommended Earplugs For Duck Hunting

Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff

This is my recommended plug for duck hunters. It will not be right for everyone; we all are different and have varying budgets. Should you not like these muffs, I also recommend the best in earplugs, and non-electronic plugs at both the start and end of the article.

These ear muffs have over 15,000 reviews with an average star rating of 4.5. With this many great independent reviews, you know you will get the great hearing protection for when you are hunting ducks.

List Of Features

  • Ambient sound amplification (Hear people talking better)

  • Automatic noise-blocking (Stop loud damaging sounds)

  • Ultra slim ear cups, padded, adjustable headband (super comfort)

  • Folding design (Does not take a lot of space when unused)

  • Snap-in ear cushions (Change the cushions to suit)

  • AUX Input jack & cord (listen to music or plug-in device)

  • NRR: 22 (Reduces loud sounds by 22dB to protect hearing)

Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Earmuffs gives the wearer fantastic ear protection. It will still allow them to hear the environment with great clarity. These ear muffs will amplify quieter sounds up to 85dB distortion-free. Speech and commands will be readily understandable when wearing these ear muffs. Loud noises above 82dB are blocked – you will still hear them, but significantly reduced.

These are used in the field with comfort, have slim low profile cups for the ears, to keep interference to your shooting to a minimum.

Full Situational Awareness

Directionally placed stereo microphones amplify range commands and environmental sounds to a safe 82 dB

Block Hazardous Sounds

Amplification shuts off at 82 dB and patented Air Flow Control technology provides optimal noise reduction in all frequencies.

Ear Muffs For Shooting

Ultra-slim ear cups with cut-out means they will not get in the way when shooting

Custom Fit For Comfort

Padded and telescoping headband adjusts for a non-slip, comfortable fit.

Small Storage Footprint

Folding muffs for quick storage wherever you are

Headphone Functionality

Connect via cable to smartphone MP3 player, or another device.

Fast Maintenance

Snap-on ear pads make a quick, simple replacement and extend the life of the earmuff.

At What DB Level Is Hearing Damaged?

The damage that sound does to your ears is usually expressed in terms of time and volume. So for example,

  • Leaf blower – 85dB – 2 hours
  • Subway Train – 100dB – 15 minutes
  • Shouting in Ear – 110dB – less than 2 minutes
  • Standing next to siren – 120db – almost immediate

All firearms can do damage almost immediately, if you are too close, and do not have any ear protection. Below is an infographic showing how long you can be exposed to sounds of different volumes, with examples.

Recommended Ear Protection For Hunters – Details

Please Note: Just because an ear defender is marked, for example, "Gunshot" - it will still cover other things, like "explosions"

Conclusion – Best Hearing Protection For Duck Hunting

If you intend going duck hunting, and will be exposed to sounds of gunshot, they can damage your hearing quickly. If you do not want to lose your hearing, then you need to protect it. Hearing muffs do not need to be expensive and will last you a long time if you look after them properly.

Ideally, you need muff that is going to reduce the gunshots to a level that does not damage your hearing, but will still allow you to for reasons of safety.

If you do not wear some form of ear protection, and you damage your hearing, this damage will be with you for the rest of your life, as it is not possible to repair damaged ears!

Howard Leight by Honeywell Impact Sport Sound Amplification Electronic Shooting Earmuff, Green
  • Built-in directional microphones amplify range commands and other ambient sounds to a safe 82 dB, providing more natural listening and enhanced communication
  • Actively listens and automatically shuts off amplification when ambient sound reaches 82 dB; Noise Reduction Rating (NRR): 22
  • Features low profile earcups for firearm stock clearance; adjustable headband for secure fit; compact folding design for convenient storage; classic green color
  • Includes AUX input and 3.5 mm connection cord for MP3 players and scanners. Integrated power/volume knob
  • Includes 2 AAA batteries; automatic shut-off feature after 4 hours increases battery life; approximately 350 hours of battery life; works well and long with Polaroid AAA Batteries
Peltor Sport Tactical 100 Electronic Hearing Protector, Ear Protection, NRR 22 dB, Ideal for the...
  • NRR: 22 dB noise reduction rating
  • IDEAL FOR both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
  • VARIABLE SUPPRESSION TIME reduces echoes indoors
  • ADAPTIVE FREQUENCY RESPONSE reduces background noise for clearer conversation and hearing of commands
  • DURABLE RECESSED MICROPHONES help to prevent damage and reduce wind noise
Walker's Silencer Wireless NRR25dB Electronic Sound Suppression Hearing Protection Earbuds for...
  • HEARING PROTECTIONS EARBUDS - Walker's Silencer Digital Earbuds are an in-the-ear-canal device that both amplifies low-level sounds so you can communicate on the range, and suppresses harmful sounds to protect your hearing
  • NOISE REDUCTION - Silencer Ear Buds provide NRR 25 dB (Noise Reduction Rating) protection against gun blasts through SAC (Sound Activated Compression)
  • COMFORTABLE FIT - Walkers Silencer Compact In The Ear Buds won't interfere with you or your gun and cone with Secure-Lock sizing fins (comes with 3 different sized countered fins and foam buds) provides a tight and a customized fit
  • EASY TO CONTROL - Integrated Omni directional microphones and full dynamic range speakers deliver a crisp clear sound; The speakers feature independent volume control and an off/on switch
  • DETAILS - Walker's Silencer Digital Ear Buds run on two #10 batteries (includes 4), and come with a removable lanyard and a carry case for easy transportation
Walker's Electronic Behind the Neck Retractable Plugs
  • Behind-the-neck design doesn't interfere with your weapon, allowing for complete target focus. Non intrusive design is perfect for all applications where hearing protection and environment awareness is critical
  • Hi-Gain directional microphones amplify external sounds for increased environment awareness
  • Sound Activated Compression circuit (SAC) provides a no-fail system for protecting your ears from harmful muzzle blast
  • Powered by rechargeable LIPO battery 250mAH battery for 10 hours of use. Auto-Shut Off (low power mode) after 4 to 6 hours. Timer resets and unit wakes after any button is pressed
  • 31dB NRR
Decibullz - Custom Molded Percussive Filters, Custom Molded Hearing Protection
  • QUALITY HEARING PROTECTION FOR SHOOTING: Decibullz Custom-Molded Percussive Filters are excellent ear protection for shooting for one simple reason—they combine our custom-molding earplug technology with a percussive filter that reduces sound waves to safe levels without blocking ambient noise.
  • EARPLUGS FOR NOISE REDUCTION: Developed for shooting ear protection, our Percussive Filters filter sounds up to 33 decibels. When no damaging noise is present, the filters permit voices and ambient noises to be heard, allowing for situational awareness not provided by traditional hearing protection.
  • EASY MOLDABLE EARPLUGS: Custom is better! By placing the earplugs in boiling water, you can easily and quickly mold the Decibullz Thermo-fit Earpieces to the exact shape of your ears. If you're not satisfied, then freely reshape at any time until your earplugs are comfortable and secure.
  • NO BATTERIES REQUIRED: These noise-reduction earplugs utilize a physical percussive/impulse filter to provide superior shooting earplugs without the need for batteries. This means your hearing-protection equipment is always ready to protect you when you need it.
  • DO WHAT YOU LOVE: Our audio products were created so you can experience life to the fullest—without risking your hearing. Whether you're at the range, out hunting, or on military duty, Decibullz buds allow you to experience the full range of surrounding sounds without suffering hearing loss.
Peltor Sport Tactical 500 Smart Electronic Hearing Protector with Bluetooth Wireless Technology, NRR...
  • NRR: 26 dB noise reduction rating
  • IDEAL FOR both indoor and outdoor shooters and hunters
  • BLUETOOTH WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY to stream music and make calls
  • DYNAMIC SUPPRESSION TIME measures the energy in gunshot noise and automatically sets suppression time for reduced echoes and increased comfort
  • CLEAR VOICE TRACKING seeks voice within background noise and actively filters noise for improved speech intelligibility

Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

People Also Ask

Can Shooting A Gun Cause Tinnitus?

Yes – Shooting has caused tinnitus in many people, especially after they have been shooting a while. How long it takes depends on the environment that you are in, and your own ears.

Tinnitus is most common in people who have been exposed to loud noises regularly over time. However, guns are so loud that even a single shot can cause permanent tinnitus.

How Long Will Ears Ring After Shooting A Gun?

Ringing in the ear will typically disappear within 1-2 days. The time depends on how loud the sounds were, and the conditions of the ear. In some extreme cases it may take a up to week.

The ringing should slowly seem lower in volume until it has eventually disappeared. However, you do not need to worry, as you will wear plugs, right?

How many dB is a gunshot?

The average decibels for gunshot is mostly between 140 and 165 dB, which is quite dangerous for the safety of your ears and loud enough to cause hearing loss. The tolerable decibel for the human ear is 70 dB or below. Sound above 85 dB can prove to be damaging for ears and if you are exposed to it for a longer time, it may cause hearing loss.

Which is why using proper ear protection such as earplugs is important. Earplugs that are specially designed for hunter's offer noise suppression and lessen its severity. Silicon and foam earplugs are ideal for hunters or police officers and military personnel.  

Do soldiers wear hearing protection in combat?

Yes, soldiers do wear hearing protection in combat to dampen loud noises and to enhance ambient sounds that help them stay aware in difficult circumstances. They are given earplugs for protection against loud gunshots by lowering their intensity.

Most of these earplugs reduce noise by 30dB, which is quite significant because an unprotected human ear can only tolerate 70dB and gunshots are much higher than that so protection is important. Soldiers who do not use ear protections are at a risk of suffering from varying degrees of hearing loss.

How many dB can kill you?

Usually, 150 decibels are adequate to bust the eardrums, and 180 to 200 dB is enough to kill a person. A blast of 210 dB can cause an injury to your internal organs such as lungs or kidneys that can lead to death. Wearing earplugs can lower the blow of loud noises by 30dB making them tolerable for you.

70dB is considered a safe threshold for listening. The more the dB is, the less safe exposure time you have before your hearing gets damaged. So if you are constantly exposed to sound more than 100dB, you might suffer from hearing loss.


If you require more information, please check these references

Hunting disturbance and the timing of autumn migration in Anas species , article,“bioone.org”, retrieved on, Wed 29-April-2020 

Duck Populations and Kill: an Evaluation of Some Waterfowl Regulations in Illinois , article, “iopn.library.illinois.edu”, retrieved on, Wed 29-April-2020 

Insider Tips for hunting waterfowl , article, “books.google.co.uk”, retrieved on, Wed 29-April-2020


Please enter search query below:

Affiliate Disclosure

EarsToday is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program.

Nick Le Page

Experience : Hi, I am Nick, and I have suffered with ear problems my whole life, mainly tinnitus. I have tried a lot of products to help protect my ears over this period, and several devices to block out the constant ringing

“Are you having problems hearing? If so, those around you already know it. Hearing loss is no laughing matter, so don’t be a punchline.”

Follow Us!

Click on the links for our Social Media

Amazon Affiliate

EarsToday.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program

An affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

Designed And Developed By 8r1ght.com
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram