Hearing loss and moose hunt


There’s a ringing I have in my ears

I sure hope that it clears

Perhaps on its own

Or with prednisone

For deafness is one of my fears

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. A winter in Nome, Alaska, assignments in rural Iowa, a summer with a bike tour in Michigan, and Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania stretched into the fall. Since last winter I’ve worked in Alaska and western Nebraska, and taken time to deal with my wife’s (benign) brain tumor.  I just returned from a moose hunt in Canada.  Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission. 

We first spotted the moose on a hill about 170 yards from the lakeshore. He moved just before I pulled the trigger.  The guide started to call, and the moose came to us, his antlers swinging at the level of the boreal forest tree tops.

With my crosshairs on the bull’s sternum, I pulled the trigger when the distance closed to 60 yards, and my ears started to ring.

Age-related hearing loss runs in my family. My mother and her mother needed hearing aids before they reached my age.  But neither of them stood in front of the drummer playing sax for an R and B band, hung out in discos, nor had anything to do with firearms.  I could still hear bats at the age of 26, but the highs gradually faded.  I started hunting in my 30’s and after the first few years of firearms use I got conscientious about hearing protection.  Later I bought occlusive hearing aids with a limiter circuit, so I could hear a pheasant taking off or a deer approaching, but nothing louder than 85 db would transmit to my ears.  The devices worked fine hunting pheasants in January.

But they failed to protect my ears from the blast of a 7mm Remington Magnum.

The death of an animal, even a mouse in a trap, always hits me spiritually. I have never killed a moose before, and when he crumpled he left a palpable hole in my universe.

When the moose stopped moving I found my hearing had fled.

Over the next couple of days my hearing improved. As soon as I got home I contacted the audiologist.  He found I’d lost 20 db on the left and 10 on the right.   He adjusted my hearing aids and talked to me about vitamins.

Luckily, I’d already ordered an electronic stethoscope.

The next day I went for acupuncture. But on a physician’s social media site, I posted a question about treatment for acute noise-induced hearing loss.  More than one doc said it served me right for killing such a majestic creature, a thought I had already had.  But a few mentioned steroids.

I never self-prescribe; I called my ENT, and I started steroids today.

I hope they work. I’m not done listening.

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One Response to “Hearing loss and moose hunt”

  1. Terry Says:

    I know it’s difficult hunting, but hearing protection is a requirement at the shooting club here – and most, I expect. Congratulations on the successful hunt! I hope you or someone else was able to enjoy the meat 😉

    Regards, Terry

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