The joke at wingshooting camps frequented by hunters of a certain age — say those beyond their 50th birthday — is that you can say whatever you want, because no one will hear you anyway.

Such are the dire straits of generations of bird hunters, as well as big-game hunters and target plinkers, who didn’t adequately protect their ears while locking and loading.

Fortunately, kids today are much more attuned to the possibility that trigger pulling and hearing loss often occur in close sequence.

But listen up: It’s never too late to protect the hearing you have left, no matter how much or how little. First lesson: At gun ranges where shooters are in proximity to one another, maximum ear protection is required. This can mean using foam or similar ear inserts, together with a quality pair of shooters’ earmuffs.

Second lesson: Ear protection used while pursuing game should allow a hunter to hear his partners’ voices, as well as the sound, for example, of a grouse or pheasant flushing — while at the same time blocking the explosive clatter that follows the collision of a firing pin against a cartridge primer.

These good sound/bad sound ear protectors can be molded to an individual’s ears, or bought as one-size-fits-all models.

Dennis Anderson