Tag Archives: Insider Tips

Hunting and Hearing Protection: Starting Early »

Posted on January 9, 2013

AdventureDad.org viewer John O’Connor writes in on the importance of using hearing protection when hunting and shooting.

Begin Hearing Protection at an Early Age

Hunting has been a popular pastime for many years in the United States.  From the early ages when hunting was used mainly as a source of food to now although still used for food, hunting as a popular hobby and sport for families to engage in together as well.  Regardless of your reasoning for hunting, it is vital that while out in the field or at the range you and your family are equipped with proper hearing protection at all times.

As a child I remember helping my father gather together all of his gear the night before a hunt.  We would sort everything out, make sure he had it all, and pack it into his truck.  I would always ask him a ton of questions, about the guns he used, the animals he would be hunting for and which of his friends would be accompanying him this trip.  We would discuss stuff like this for hours, but as I look back to our times spent together talking about hunting I rarely remember having any conversations about the importance of wearing hearing protection while hunting.  From the first time my father shot a gun to the last time I helped him pack up his truck I never saw him with hearing protection.


As an avid hunter my father spent much of his free time either out in the woods or at home teaching me the ropes of hunting so one day I would be able to go out on my own and eventually teach my kids the ins and outs of the great outdoors.  Although a very experienced marksman my father often times when out in the field did not pay much attention to his hearing protection.  Even though he knew what a blast from a firearm could do to a person’s hearing he would often argue that he could not feel any signs of hearing loss so why should he have to protect against something he doesn’t even have.  Little did he know that every time he fired his gun without protection on he was further damaging his hearing levels.  Even though my father never wore hearing protection he always made sure that myself and the rest of my family had a pair of earmuffs on at all times.  He did not follow these guidelines in regards to hearing protection but he wanted to make sure his children were properly educated on this issue to ensure that we were always protected and to make sure that as we grew older and continued on with the family tradition of hunting that we were teaching our children the right thing to do as well.


My father is now in his late 70’s and is severely affected by hearing loss.  Although hunting is not the only cause of his decreased levels of hearing his doctor has said that it did play a major role in damaging his eardrums.  My father wears hearing aids in order to amplify the sounds around him so he is able to hear well.  Looking back on his hunting days, although he is sometimes upset that he chose to not wear hearing protection he is glad that he always made sure his children were protected at all times and that he instilled the proper hunting guidelines so that we could continue on teaching others the proper ways to hunt in the future.


Many people today realize what hunting can do to a person’s hearing but still choose not to protect themselves.  Researchers have found that being exposed to sounds over 80 dB for long periods of time can cause permanent hearing damage.  A shotgun can produce sounds upwards of 140 dB; almost double the advised level of noises that a person can be exposed to unprotected.  Although hearing loss can happen gradually over time, exposure to sounds at 140 dB just once can cause hearing damage.  That is why it is important for everyone, adults and children to always be protected when around guns.  It does not matter if you are shooting in the woods, practicing at the range or watching someone shoot, everyone must be protected at all times.


Just like anything else it is important to start things at a young age.  That is why it is important to have your children wear hearing protection when they are young so they feel comfortable doing so and so they can learn the reasoning behind why they should always be protected when around gunfire.  Even though my father did not wear hearing protection, it is important as adults for us to lead by example in regards to wearing hearing protection.


In order to ensure safety for all when hunting there are a few different options that you can choose from when looking into hearing protection.  The first line of hearing protection that people often look towards is a pair of earplugs.  Earplugs although they protect against hearing loss are not always the most effective form of hearing protection that should be worn when hunting.  In order to ensure maximum safety when out in the field the best option to look at would be electronic earmuffs.  Often a complaint by hunters is that when they wear hearing protection they are not able to hear other hunters in their group or game that may be approaching in the area.  Electronic earmuffs allow hunters to hear noises that are under 80 dB while blocking out any sounds that exceed this level.  This enables hunters to hear game and others while providing maximum protection at all times.


Whether you are just starting to hunt, teaching your children to hunt or have been hunting for years it is still extremely important to make sure everyone involved is fully protected at all times.  Hearing loss is not geared to one age group; children and adults can both be affected equally especially when around gunfire.  To ensure healthy hearing healthy for you and your children in the future take the proper precautionary steps in protecting your hearing today!


Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at bloggingwjohno.blogspot.com!

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Spur of the Moment Travels: Chicago »

Posted on August 28, 2012

I recently received a piece from travel writer Karla Hudak regarding tips for traveling through the Midwest. Immediately I thought of our driving trips to St. Louis, Tennessee, and tracing the eastern portion of Lewis and Clark’s epic adventure. In particular, I remembered with great fondness Alex’s first trip to Chicago and Valparaiso, Indiana.

It started in Denver when I heard a story on NPR about the upcoming closing of Chicago’s oldest restaurant, Berghoff’s. Having eaten many a great meal there in college, I just had to make it back one final time and introduce my son to it as well. So, on a cold, wet weekend in February, Alex and I stood outside for three hours as the line to get in wrapped several city blocks for their closing Saturday night. As you can see in the picture, the wait was worth it as we settled down to plates of snitzel, potato pancakes, pasta and some Berghoff’s famous home brew for Dad.

The rest of that trip include driving along the lake shore, seeing the World War II U-Boat at the Museum of Nature and Science, walking along the shops in the miracle Mile and simply enjoying the atmosphere inside the Chicago Loop. We also worked in a tour of the Valparaiso University campus, saw the vacant lot where my fraternity once stood and enjoyed the best pizza in the world at Greeks Pizza.

As we head into fall, I thought you would enjoy her piece for making your trip a little bit easier. When it comes to eating during fall time, nothing beats the sausage, fried chicken and pie dinners at churches and VFW’s throughout the region. While I’m not convinced about Karla’s tenth point, I’ve followed most of the others. We’ve had to hide our ID’s, credit cards and cash in many strange places so maybe we will give some thought to identity theft protection. Here is her piece:

Thanks to leisure travelers choosing to make close-in trips, the tourism levels in Illinois are back to pre-recession levels for 2011, according to ChicagoTribune.com. More than 93 million people traveled to Illinois last year, which was 10 percent more than in 2010. Families living in the Midwest can enjoy a great road trip within the 12 Midwestern states for less money and hassle than traveling farther away. Make your journey more fun with these ten quick travel tips for a great road trip through the Midwest.

Get a Guidebook

Consider a guidebook like the Midwest Getaway Guide to help you plan your trip. Guidebooks have maps, festival information and ideas for day trips, weekend getaways and longer vacations. If you find yourself somewhere without Internet access or with a depleted cell phone battery, you will be glad to have physical maps nearby to rely on.

Bring a Cooler

A cooler filled with snacks and cold drinks saves you the hassle of pulling over every time someone needs to quench their thirst or fill their stomach.

Opt for Satellite Radio

Satellite radio lets you listen to your favorite radio stations wherever you go, not just in town.

Get Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft is a very real problem when people go on vacations. Make your vacation more relaxing by signing up for an identity protection program. You can actually find in-depth, background information on companies like Lifelock on Crunchbase. Lifelock monitors your identity for suspicious behavior and tracks your credit score. A program like this can definitely give you piece of mind when traveling to foreign places for the first time.

Splurge on a GPS Navigator

A GPS navigator does not just give you directions; It can also help you find restaurants and hotels or alert you if you miss an exit or turn.

Pack Lightly

Only take what you need. Bring as few shoes and clothing items as possible. Leave laptops, purses, and even wallet at home if you can. Not only do these items take up extra room, but bringing them with you means they can be stolen- along with your identity. You do not need all of your credit cards or IDs for a road trip, and you definitely should not need checks.

Be Careful Where You Surf

You may need to stop somewhere to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot during your trip, perhaps to check on a hotel reservation. Only make reservations and pay from secure sites or you may find your accounts hacked into, leaving you without any gas or food money.

Use Bank ATMs

Thieves sometimes install card readers at ATMs. Typically, ATMs inside of banks are safe. Most locations have smartphone apps that let you easily find the nearest banking center with an ATM.

Swing by Chicago

Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest with a population of 2,853,114. With so many great places to visit in the Midwest, it can be challenging to pick where to go. Chicago is sure to have something for everyone, and you can find out more about what the city has to offer with Eyewitness Travel Guide– a great trip resource.

Stick to the Plan

Although you will see plenty of fun places to make unplanned stops on your road trip, resist the urge unless it is something truly special. Deviating from your plan can throw off the whole trip and add stress as you try to make up for lost time.

These ten quick travel tips for a great road trip through the Midwest should make your family’s vacation more fun and hassle-free!

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Releasing a Trout »

Posted on June 24, 2011

If you are practicing catch and release fly fishing, the key is to help the trout off the fly as gently as possible.  I like to hold the line taught with my left hand while dipping my right hand in the water.  Now wet, I then take my right hand and gently but firmly support the trout by the belly.  I then slide my left hand down the line and grasp the fly.  An easy turn to the right or left is all it usually takes to remove the fly from the fishes mouth.  Then simply loosen your right hand and let the fish swim away.  A great moment for you with the least amount of trauma for the fish.

If you do want to take a picture of your catch, support the head and place your thumb over the nose with one hand.  Use your other hand to support its belly.  Gently hold the fish over the water (in case it wiggles away) and smile.  Never keep a fish out of the water for too long.  Remember, it’s a whole new world for the fish and is a bit like a human being dunked in the water without first taking a breath.

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Christmas Trees! »

Posted on December 16, 2010

One of our favorite holiday traditions is going to the mountains to cut down a couple of trees.  Here’s some tips on how to get your own tree!

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Adventures with Animal Companions: Utah Hits the Trail »

Posted on September 25, 2010

The following clips were shot on our recent trip to the San Juan mountains of Colorado.  In them, we tried to capture some of the joys yet challenges of bringing your animal companion on an adventure.  Utah has been on a lot of them with us and always adds a special emotional connection for both of us.

If you are planning on taking your animal companion along, the key phrase is, “plan ahead”.  On this recent trip for instance, we found out that dogs weren’t allowed on the Durango Narrow Gauge train.  While we didn’t want to kennel her, we did find a woman in Durango who would take her in her home and trail run her every day for a couple of miles. On another adventure, this time in Glacier National Park, we were informed of the park’s very rigid dog policies (because of bear problems that summer) when we arrived at the campground.  Dogs must be on a leash of under 6 feet at all times, not to be left alone in the campground and not welcome on trails or lake shores!  We were envisioning the demise of our adventure on the first night as the ranger spoke.  About an hour later, a woman walking with her dog, told us about camping right across the border in Waterton Canada (the north side of Glacier Park) which had dog friendly rules.

The next morning, we drove to the border crossing but were told we needed her papers in order to cross the border.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have them because we hadn’t planned on leaving the country.  Luckily for us, we got a faint cell signal and I was able to call our vet at home on a Sunday morning).  Within 20 minutes, she faxed Utah’s papers to the border station and we were able to cross.  Utah was able to run free, swim in the lakes and go on all our adventures with us.  Needless to say, we learned an important lesson about making sure her shots are up to date and taking along her papers while adventuring!

Finally, before taking your animal companion on an adventure, make sure they are in the necessary physical shape needed for the conditions you will encounter.  Thanks to my wife running her 5 times a week as well as two very successful ACL replacement surgeries (she took out both knees just playing fetch in the yard), Utah was in great shape for our recent hikes.  We did, however, realize very quickly that trails with three foot high rock fields are pretty hard on her.  While she loves to winter camp and snowshoe with us, we do have to take extra care of her paws and give her plenty of time to clean them out.

Finally, make sure that in addition to your main leash, have an extra 5 foot piece of rope on hand to use as a spare leash just in case.  You also have to remember that your animal needs plenty of hydration if you are out in dry climates. 

We hope you enjoy these shots and taking your animals on future adventures!

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