$200 hunter aid better than $1500 hearing aid
By Roger Wiltz
Editor: We’ve been hearing for years that these hunters’ aids are really hearing aids, and here’s a testimonial that supports that position. Thanks to bhNEWS for this article. As listowner Bob MacPherson notes, the Walkers Game Ear II sells for under $200 at http://tinyurl.com/5zu8nu
The subject of hearing is nothing new to this column. When excessive noise causes our ears to ring, we have done permanent damage to our ears. Gunfire is a common cause of hearing loss, and many men my age or younger are hard of hearing because they didn’t protect their ears while shooting. I’m guilty of this, although my summers at Republic Steel in Chicago without wearing ear protection are partially to blame.
My hearing, or lack of it, infuriates my family. “Wear your hearing aids! Blah, blah, blah.” I know how they feel because my dad’s refusal to wear his hearing aids infuriated me. When women see hearing aids in both my ears, they ask me to get after their husbands about wearing their hearing aids. It appears that hearing problems are mostly a guy thing. With guns and heavy machinery, it’s not surprising.
About three or four years ago, I went to a very good doctor and had audio tests done along with an ear examination. I wound up spending $3,000 on two hearing aids – one for each ear. They were the skin-colored, banana-shaped variety that sit behind each ear. These work best. However, they are more easily seen than the little ones that rest in your ear, and some people are sensitive about this. Me? Nothing will help or harm my face.
Because I’m kind of tight, I was determined to make those expensive hearing aids work. I did, but I’ll admit that it was a struggle. They made everything louder whether I wanted to hear it or not. Background noise drives me up the wall. Modern movies are horrible and 1940 movies are great. Restaurant noise is almost unbearable.
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With my 90 percent loss, the hearing aids didn’t completely solve my problem, but they did give me some frequencies I wasn’t getting so I could more accurately guess what was being said. Today I’d get nothing, short of something to drink, out of a social function without my hearing aids. They may be more important than my glasses.
About six months ago, perhaps longer, my right hearing aid broke down. I sweat easily, and sweat is hard on hearing aids. I didn’t know when I’d get back to the audiologist for repair and cleaning, so I pulled the little plastic tube and custom ear plug from my expensive hearing aid, and stuck it in a Walker’s Game Ear II that I had bought in the “Bargain Cove” at Cabela’s. It would be better than nothing until I got my “good” hearing aid repaired.
It took about an hour to realize that the Walker’s hearing aid worked better than my $1,500 hearing aid. At first, I figured that the Walker’s wouldn’t hold up. After all, it cost a tenth of what my expensive aid cost. The Walker’s hasn’t quit yet – even when it has been wet with sweat! The Walker’s is also easily adjusted for volume where the fancy one isn’t. The Walker’s is obviously more durable while being just as sensitive.
Physically, the Walker’s is just about identical in appearance to my expensive hearing aid. It even uses the same batteries. When you buy a Walker’s, it comes with an ear plug that looks like the filter from a cigarette. It doesn’t work all that well. The real key to my success is having the original custom-molded ear plug that came with my $1,500 hearing aid.
I’m not telling you to go out and buy a Walker’s. It’s a matter of what works for me, and I’m not exaggerating one bit. Here’s the real clincher for me. The Walker’s automatically blocks loud noises. When I’m hunting, I’ll wear a Walker’s in both ears. (I’ve been back to the bargain cove for a second Walker’s.) When my hunting partners talk, I’ll hear them. When a bird flushes, I’ll hear it. When a deer snaps a twig, I’ll hear it. When a turkey putts or gobbles two draws over, I’ll hear it. When my gun fires, the sound will be blocked.
I’ve hesitated in writing this column because I didn’t want to hurt the good folks in the hearing aid business. However, I suspect the mark up on $1,500 hearing aids is more than significant. Let me say this to them. Show me a better hearing aid at a more competitive price, and I’ll be your first customer.