What’d ‘Ya Say Partner?

Ear Protection is Important!
How to be “Ear Safe” in Moments
Hear more When Not Shooting


A group of us outdoor hunting friends from all around the Midwest get together every year and this time we went on a turkey hunting trip to Parsons, Kansas, this past spring. I’m not sure it was not the most important trip of my short six-decade long hunting career. I learned how to protect my ears and at the same time, learned how to hear game coming from an even longer distance away.

It happened at a friendly local shooting range.

There I met up with a humble, technically oriented guy, Lance Kraemer, from Starkey Hearing Technologies. He was demonstrating a new hearing protection device by SoundGear for hunters and shooters, so I just had to try one, especially since he had an extra unit in his truck. It came in a protective case and was an easy, instant fit for my ear canal.

The fit was nearly perfect, though it is adjustable with other provided components in the case and it was so small. One cool thing about these, literally, is that I was able to dump my earmuffs and that ring of earmuff sweat all around my head and face was gone. Another cool thing is that they actually amplify sound when no shooting is going on. You can hear game walking in from a distance a bit better. How about that?

The device that fits into your ear is battery bowered by tiny cells that last about 5-6 hours. They’re cheap, so no matter there. The devices are quite discreet, it’s almost hard to tell you have them on and above all, I can hear those guys down at the other end of the range when they think I’m not hitting enough targets. Good for the clubhouse!


They work for handgun, rifle or shotgun sounds, and I even wear them archery hunting now that I have my own pair, just for the amplification. They make me more aware that way and I’m totally protected from the loud, explosive sounds of shooting a firearm. Cooler than cool.

The technical jargon for them is formidable: They suppress noise at 93dB (25dB NRR), also allowing 15dB of sound gain. Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a unit of measurement used to determine the effectiveness of hearing protection devices to decrease sound exposure, classified by their potential to reduce noise in decibels (dB). As such, after looking into it, they have been tested and approved by the American National Standards (ANSI) in accordance with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).


I started to feel like a certified cartridge discharge expert.

Another thing I really like about their parent company and design folks is that Starkey Hearing Technologies is the only privately held, American-owned company in the hearing industry. Go USA! Been feeling a little Olympic these days.

The little protective case holds a lot of things and they are convenient to retrieve while they are all safely shielded from carrying damage or from loss in your pocket. What’s in there is quite a lot, including: one (1) pair of SoundGear electronic hearing protection devices, two (2) pairs of orange silicone sleeves – (1) small (1) large; two pairs of black silicone sleeves – (1) small (1) large; two (2) packs of batteries (Size 10); one (1) cleaning brush; and a 30-day risk free trial, backed above hat with a 1-year worry-free repair warranty.

After my friends have tried these, they will never shoot without them again. I think that says it all.

After that day hunting gobblers in Kansas, we could not call in a turkey close enough to take a shot, but one thing for sure is that me and my nationally famous hunting partner, Thayne Smith, could really hear each other very well. You know, we were in the confines of a “gotta-be-quiet” blind in southeastern Kansas, whispering all day long. Was fun.

We had a great time because we didn’t miss a word that either of us shared. Including those little “Zzzzzz” sounds that happened up once in a while.

For more on this ear protection, visit: https://www.soundgearhearing.com/.

Gearing Up for Spring Gobblers

The author took these two limb-hangers in the same day, thanks to a little luck and gear. Read the story to learn about calling, gear and lady luck.

Turkey hunters love gear and it seems we can never get enough to outsmart those un-killable toms.  I once hunted a flock of Merriam’s in South Dakota that had been pursued relentlessly the week prior to my arrival.  “The birds are there, but they won’t come to a call and I’ve been at them all week,” said a hunter as he packed his truck and left the camp.  “Good luck!”

Since I knew where the birds roosted, I was there the next morning in the pitch dark, but instead of being greeted by a prairie sunrise, a clipper system dropped six inches of snow.  Luckily, I wore a Browning Hell’s Canyon water-proof suit and a Mossy Oak vest complete with a hefty seat pillow to keep warm.

Always test pattern your shotgun, especially if you are trying a new shot shell for the first time.

I heard the birds fly down an hour after daylight and stayed still unsure of where they would go.  Ironically, I saw a flock of a dozen crest a ridge and feed toward me as I tried to sit still despite frequent shivering.  About 75 yards away, the flock seemed to camp for the morning with the big tom lagging well behind.  If I could nudge the flock back over the ridge where they’d come from, I could race up the hill and ambush the gobbler as it languished behind.

Popping a diaphragm caller into my mouth, I gave several soft yelps and every hen’s head went up.  A few more yelps and the flock moved slowly, but deliberately up and over the hill with the old tom playing caboose.

The soft snow covered my approach and as I crested the ridge, the gobbler raised its head like a flag and no doubt knew his goose was cooked.  I hate to admit that my calling actually scared turkeys away, yet I was sure the birds were ultra call shy and there was no way to lure them closer with bird sounds.  Luckily, I was prepared for the weather and was thrilled to return to camp with a big tom in such challenging conditions.

As a turkey hunter you never know which gear will make the greatest difference and here are a few of my favorite pieces that have made a difference over the years.

The author took this boss gobbler on a cold snowy day when turkeys would not approach a call. Make sure your clothing and insulation matches the weather conditions.

Mossy Oak Camouflage– I’m partial to the MO brand since I’ve hunted with them almost from the pattern inception.  Other patterns work well  also, but be sure to have gobbler gloves with an extended cuff and a head net.

Mossberg Turkey Thug Shotgun– I use my Mossberg for deer and turkey hunting and the shotgun is short, compact, and very effective.  When I have a gobbler within 40 yards, I know the deal is done.

Learn to use multiple callers. Box callers are ideal for locating, while a diaphragm allows for hands free shooting.

Aimpoint Red Dot Scope– Turkeys are easy to miss and adding a red dot scope like the Aimpoint Hunter will make a tremendous difference.  Aimpoint’s are military grade and ultra rugged.  You can adjust the brightness of the dot and the battery is so powerful, the dot will stay illuminated for five years of constant use.

Mossy Oak Turkey VestA turkey vest is like the desktop of a computer, a place where you can see the tools you use most often and know where they are.  If you are an adventurous hunter, you may want to check out the Alps Turkey Pack, a light, compact pack that will store gear and help carry out your turkey.

An Aimpoint Hunter red dot scope makes an excellent turkey sight. Put the dot at the base of the neck and close the deal.

CallsYou need three types of callers.  A box for long distance locating, a peg and slate for close in work, and a diaphragm to manipulate a gobbler with both hands free.  Use these various calls to vary the volume and quantity of calling.   If a gobbler sounds off when approaching and suddenly gets quiet, be ready to shoot as they often are looking for your location.

Shot SizeWhether you like #4, #6, or compromise with #5 shot, be sure to pattern your shotgun with each load choice.  You want to especially shoot a target at 10 yards to make sure your sighting system in on line.  You’ll be amazed at how small the pattern spreads at this distance.

Gobbler decoys can be deadly when used in wide open spaces, yet caution must be used if other hunters could be in your area.