As suppressors have become more popular over the last few years, many hunters are starting to see the benefits of using them while in the field. Being able to preserve the shooter’s hearing while hunting is certainly an obvious perk; however, there are many other benefits that may not be immediately apparent. With traditional plugs or muffs, the sounds commonly heard in nature are strongly muffled. With modern electronic hearing protection, those same sounds are too quiet, distorted, or obnoxiously dramatic. An armadillo nearby often sounds like an elephant crashing through brush, and a small flying insect may as well be a remote-control helicopter buzzing around your head. Natural audio clues greatly increase the chances of a successful hunting trip, regardless of what the prey is. Being able to hear doves flying, pigs grunting, or coyotes howling in the distance are often the difference between success and failure.
Unfortunately, many hunters now suffer from severe hearing loss associated with years of unprotected ears. They value the ability to hear nature over their own auditory health, which unfortunately diminishes their abilities in the field down the road. Aside from the shooter’s own hearing being protected, suppressors also protect the hearing of others in the immediate area. This could be a hunting partner, wife, child, or even dog along for the trip. Excluding the health benefits, many loud firearms can intimidate those new to the shooting sports. They may pull shots by anticipating the report and flinching, resulting in a missed shot or wounded animal. Even worse, they may be scared away from the sport entirely.
Expanding on the above logic, loud firearms can restrict a hunter’s opportunities in other ways. Be it an anti-gun neighbor, or people not wanting to be disturbed at night, suppressors can allow for better relationships with neighbors and land owners. There are a fair numbers of ranchers in Texas who have hog and coyote problems; however, they don’t want to be woken up at all hours of the night from a multitude of gun shots. Given that both of these animals are primarily hunted in the dark, it makes controlling them rather difficult. Suppressors may, and often do, allow property owners to grant permission for night hunting. Additionally, it’s the polite way to approach the subject and develop good relationships.
Along with sound mitigation, silencers also reduce visible muzzle flash. This generally isn’t a factor for most people, but it can be a tremendous benefit when using night vision. Night vision use is on the rise and it pairs extremely with suppressed rifles. The lack of muzzle flash is not only less distracting, but can help preserve the life of many night vision devices.
When shooting quietly, there are two significant aspects that change animal behavior. One is the reduction in overall noise generation, and the second is masking the shooters location. These two points may sound similar at first, but both can benefit the hunter in slightly different ways.
With a reduction in overall sound signature, animals may be less prone to leaving a specific area. They certainly will hear the shot and may react, but it’s not a guarantee you’ll scare everything in the immediate area into the next county. Their specific behavior is difficult to explain, and only slightly predictable.
Hunting is never completely predictable. A successful hunter uses a variety of tools toincrease chances. Some of these include tracking skills, animal behavior knowledge game cameras, camouflage, calling, feeders, weather patterns, and hunting in conjunction with the wind. Most all would agree the above are important to various degrees, but each has a role in upping the chances for a successful hunt. Suppressors are no different, they’re simply a tool that can be added into a hunter’s arsenal to increase success in the field.