Football Changed...It’s Now Time For Waterfowl Hunters To Do The Same

This content is brought to you by Tetra Hearing as part of a Sponsored Content Program. Ducks Unlimited editorial staff played no role in the creation of this content.

Not long ago, doctors and researchers combined forces to link concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalophathy (CTE) to hard hits endured in football, and the sport has forever changed.

Much like football, waterfowl hunting is a beloved American tradition. As with hard hits in football, the hearing damage incurred when waterfowl hunting can have lasting, debilitating impacts on our brain and quality of life.

In a study that tracked 693 adult participants for 12 years, Johns Hopkins expert Frank Lin M.D., Ph.D., and his research team found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.

This emerging research led one audiologist, who also happens to be a die-hard duck hunter, to say enough is enough.

Dr. Bill Dickinson has been an Audiologist for 30 years and has spent his entire career helping people hear. On the weekends during season, you’ll find him in a duck blind, so he knows first hand how abusive waterfowl hunting is on the ears.

In 2019, Dickinson started TETRA Hearing in response to emerging research around hearing damage and the fact that data shows 86% of waterfowlers hunt unprotected.

Dickinson built TETRA’s AlphaShield and CustomShield products for waterfowlers, which allow you to hunt protected and still hear the hunting sounds that we all love - calling, wings and buddies talking. According to Dickinson, TETRA solved all the issues with traditional devices that caused so many duck hunters to hunt unprotected.

“Plugs, muffs and inferior electronic devices all have weaknesses, which results in a very poor listening experience. Traditional options simply detract from the hunting experience and the proof is in the fact that only about 14% of hunters use any form of hearing protection,” says Dickinson. “With TETRA, you make zero sacrifices.”

For decades, waterfowlers haven’t had great options for hearing protection. Foam plugs muffle all of the sound, so you can’t hear your calling or talk to your hunting buddies. Muffs are hot, bulky and get in your way when you shoulder the shotgun on incoming ducks. Basic electronic devices have always over amplified to much sound, especially the wind, and lack directional hearing. Unfortunately, a poor hearing experience is why most waterfowl hunters choose to forego using any hearing protection.

“Hunting in general is a loud hobby, but waterfowl hunting is abusively loud,” says Dickinson. “From the minute waterfowl hunters reach the boat ramp, unprotected ears are assaulted with damaging loud noise.”

According to Dickinson, each one of these has the potential to damage your ears for life:

  • Boat and ATV motors
  • Loud calling
  • Highly reverberant blinds, pits and flooded timber stands
  • Shooting - from both your own gun blasts and your hunting companions

Statistically, waterfowlers have higher rates of hearing loss than the general population and certainly the highest rate of hearing loss of any other hunting pursuit. So what’s the solution?

“The cold hard truth is that we have to do better - as dads, moms, grandparents, sons, daughters and friends,” says Dickinson. “The waterfowl community must stop the bad habits and create a new normal. What should the new normal be? Protecting ears – every hunt. Young hunters and new hunters should never be introduced to the sport without using hearing protection and veteran hunters need to have the courage to change what has wrongly been handed down for generations. That is the vision behind TETRA Hearing. The ear is the gateway to the brain and it’s time we change attitudes for what is considered to be responsible hunting.”

“I used TETRA AlphaShield last season and they are fantastic,” said Justin Martin, general manager of Duck Commander. “You only get one set of ears, so take care of ‘em.”

TETRA’s products have received overwhelmingly positive reviews among consumers. The company offers a 30-day and interest-free financing. TETRA products are programmed for each individual based on the results of a quick online hearing test at tetrahearing.com.

“I love to duck hunt as much as anyone. When the weather is right and the birds are flying, there’s no place I’d rather be than in a duck blind with my son, Brenden, watching Buck, our German Wirehaired Pointer, retrieving birds,” says Dickinson. “But remember...the decisions you make in the duck blind today, have a direct impact on your future.”

To read Dickinson’s expanded thoughts on the research and data around hearing loss and duck hunting, click here.

For more information about TETRA Hearing, visit tetrahearing.com.

This content is brought to you by Tetra Hearing as part of a Sponsored Content Program. Ducks Unlimited editorial staff played no role in the creation of this content.