November/December 2018

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Editor’s Note by Ralph Stuart
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November/December 2018I blame a goose for a lot of my hearing loss. OK, maybe not the goose as much as the young fellow next to me who shot it. All the goose did was take a load of No. 2s and land head up in the decoys. It was my friend’s son who leveled his gun at the wounded bird and fired.

We were cheek by jowl in a pit blind, and I was so focused on the goose that I didn’t notice the gun barrel come up beside my left ear. The shot that followed was literally deafening, and the concussion had me disoriented for several seconds. I don’t recall how long it took for my hearing to return, but I know that the ringing didn’t stop for quite a while.

That incident took place years ago when I thought I was invincible and there were no such things as long-term effects. Which is why I wasn’t wearing hearing protection that morning . . . . And I paid the price.

In time I wised up and began taking precautions—first with foam and rubber plugs, and then with earmuffs. At a sportsman’s show I had molded plugs made and thought they were the answer. The trouble with all the devices was that they were passive—simply blocking out sound and not allowing me to hear birds, dogs or my hunting companions.

It wasn’t until a got a pair of ESP electronic plugs that I was satisfied. These custom-fit plugs have built-in microphones and speakers, allowing you to hear normal sounds but cutting out high-decibel noises. Now I am able to carry on conversations and not worry about gunfire—mine or someone else’s—further damaging my hearing.

I mention hearing protection, because this is our annual “Waterfowl Issue,” and I have found waterfowling situations—with hunters often in close proximity in hides or boats—to be some of the most assaulting on the ears. (I recently had another shot fired beside me when someone was dispatching a duck, and I was doubly thankful for my ESPs.) If you don’t yet have hearing protection, I strongly suggest you get it. If you have it, I suggest you wear it religiously.

The last thing you want is to go deaf in a blind.

Ralph P. Stuart


An Italian Innovation

Beretta’s SL3: almost 500 years in the making

By Greggory Elliott

Cuttin’ Wood

Fast, frantic, fantastic wood ducks

By Phil Bourjaily

A Trainer’s Take

Tom Dokken talks pheasant dogs & more

By Keith R. Crowley

The Stephen Grant Round Action

A ‘best’ O/U for taking ‘tall’ birds

By Vic Venters

Shore-’Nuff Gunning

Hunting scoters and brant on the Eastern Shore

By Ralph Stuart


From the Editor

How not to go deaf in the blind


Loving doves, adding to the mystery and praising snipe

The Opener

A chance at two geese with one shot

Game & Gun Gazette

Eyeworms and quail, Pheasant Dogs, the William Powell Perdix, measuring shotguns and more

Gun Review

The Retay Masai Mara: a very nice inertia semi-auto

By Bruce Buck

Field Gear

A few finds for fowling and beyond

By The Editors

Going Public

Montana’s Open Fields: creating access to upland habitat

By Ed Carroll

Going Places

Blasting & casting with Patagonia River Guides

Dale C. Spartas

To the Point

The never-ending thrill of gunning geese

By Tom Huggler


Great advice for the sporting life

Gear Guide

Testing blind bags for the “right stuff”

By Ralph Stuart

The Gun Rack

The Dickinson Hunter Light: a fine field gun for less

By Ralph Stuart


“Wildfowl shooting”: how they do it in the UK

By Chris Batha

From the Bench

Installing a leather-covered recoil pad . . . the right way

By Dewey Vicknair

Shot Talk

What you need to know about waterfowl loads

By Tom Roster

Hunting Dogs

Preparing your retriever for waterfowl season

By Jessie Richards

On the cover: Yellow Lab and wood duck photographed by Lee Thomas Kjos

Additional photos: Tom Martineau; Tom Sykes; Jeff Moore

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