By Jeff Johnston
One of the most effective tactics to bag a springtime gobbler is to sneak as close to a roosted gobbler as possible before calling to him at first light. With skill and some luck, he’ll fly down and run smack-into the pattern of your awaiting shotgun.
At the same time, however, one of the surest ways to sulk out of the woods empty-handed is to spook a gobbler by trying to get too close to his roost. So knowing how close you can get without getting too close is an art, best practiced with experience and keen hearing used to pinpoint the bird and gauge the distance to him by merely listening to his gobbles.
But if you suffer from hearing loss, you’ll perceive that gobbler to be farther away than he actually is — and more times than not you’ll spook him as you unwittingly move too close. Or worse yet, because of your hearing loss, you have trouble even locating or pinpointing where he is gobbling. Exacerbating this, often hunters and shooters don’t even realize their hearing has degraded over the years, and so they don’t know to compensate for it. In essence, they don’t know what they’re missing.
For me, the realization came when I recently invited my 12-year-old nephew on a turkey hunt.
“Did you hear that?” he whispered.
“What?” I hissed.
“I said, did you hear that?” he repeated.
“The whippoorwill?” I whispered back.
“No,” he mumbled. “A gobble.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, incredulously. “I didn’t hear it.”
“Yes I’m sure,” he said while pointing to the river. “Way over there.”
Secretly doubting the youngster but humoring him anyway, I motioned for him to follow me, and after we’d advanced about 100 yards I stopped again to listen. And that’s the exact moment I heard the gobble and also realized my 40-year-old ears were not what they used to be.
Back at home, I began Googling for an affordable hearing solution, and I soon found TETRA Hearing AmpPods. This cutting-edge, customizable hearing enhancement technology is not nearly as expensive as full-fledged hearing aids that can cost upward of $5,000, but they represent a vast step up over run-of-the-mill sound amplification products currently on the market. After I researched TETRA, I was convinced enough to give its products a try.
TETRA Hearing was founded by two audiologists and lifelong outdoorsmen, Dr. David Gnewikow, Ph.D. and Dr. Bill Dickinson, AuD. They realized sportsmen — 86-percent of whom never wear hearing protection while hunting — commonly suffer from high-frequency hearing loss due to years of damage. So they decided to do something about it. The company offers several types of in-the-ear hearing devices that both amplify sounds so hunters can better enjoy their passion while also mitigating or preventing damage to the ears caused by loud noises such as gunfire.
Being professional audiologists as well as avid hunters, Gnewikow and Dickinson also realized certain sound frequencies during various hunting seasons are needed more than others. For example, the high-frequency yelps, clucks and gobbles of turkeys are of greater relevance to turkey hunters than the low-pitched grunts of bucks, and vice versa, so they studied the sound frequencies most needed by hunters and created computer algorithms for each. These algorithms were then programmed into each set of AmpPods to optimize them for various pursuits. This patent-pending technology called Specialized Target Optimization, or STO, is a game-changer for sportsmen and women. And unlike cheaper sound amplification products out there, AmpPods also allow for sound localization, not just amplification, so wearers can pinpoint where noises come from — something critical for hunters.
Deer AmpPods, Turkey AmpPods and Elk AmpPods are available in more economical “60 Advanced” series, or customizable “90 Premium” series. TETRA’s AmpPods 90 Premium units contain microchips designed to be custom-tuned to the wearer’s ear so the exact frequencies that are deficient to the wearer’s hearing are amplified in addition to the frequencies needed for a particular pursuit. Meanwhile, background noise is suppressed so hearing isn’t muddled.
AmpPod 90 Premiums also feature wind noise cancellation, 16-channel Digital Sound Processing, ClearComm technology for human speech enhancement, Multi-Channel Noise Reduction and 4G Feedback Cancellation, among other medical-grade audio technologies. Four optimized hearing programs--turkey, turkey boost, turkey magnum and CleanComm--can be changed with a tap of a finger to your ear, as easy as swatting a mosquito. Even more amazing, these flyweight, comfortable units nestle into the ear so they’re hardly noticed and will not get in the way of gunstocks and headwear like burdensome earmuffs can. Lastly, they offer a good level of protection from potentially ear-damaging gunfire for when you finally squeeze the trigger on Ole’ Hook Spurs.
I took TETRA’s quick-and-easy four-step online hearing test and found what I’d anecdotally suspected: My hearing is deficient in certain high-frequency ranges. The test results for each ear were then automatically populated in an email to TETRA. Several days later, my custom-programmed Turkey AmpPods arrived in the mail, and from the first moment I put them in and stepped into the woods, I was struck by what I’d been missing. Now I can hear turkeys even better than my nephew as well as his words when he whispers them under his facemask. I’m a more effective hunter now, a safer one, and my hunts are more enjoyable knowing I’m not missing out on a single glorious sound of nature around me.
TETRA Turkey AmpPods come with two AmpPods for left and right ears, a waterproof carrying case, left and right silicone tips, one pack of batteries, a cleaning tool, and two pocket-sized soft cases for $699 (AmpPods 60 Advanced) or $999 (AmpPods 90 Premium). They also come with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
*(While AmpPods mitigate the harmful effects of dangerous sound waves via automatic shutoff technology, they are not specifically intended as ear-protection devices because they do not fully seal the ear canal. Shooters and hunters such as waterfowlers who anticipate shooting often should consider TETRA’s Shield series devices that fully seal the ear canal while also offering onboard STO sound enhancement technology.)
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.