This week we ran out of meat. I love it when we run out of meat. I love it because I get to go shopping with my rifle and a big backpack.
Because this would be just a “quick” shopping trip, I head to one of the closest hunting areas to where I live. The Big Island of Hawaii actually has plenty of shopping options that allow for rifles and backpacks. Today’s location isn’t the prettiest or easiest access, however.
In my shopping, I hope to snag a wild sheep for the freezer.
Now when I go to the grocery where most people get their meat, I see some wearing earbuds of all makes and models. Of course, I don’t. And when it comes to heading out for meat in my preferred places, like lots of other hunters (aka, “Shoppers”), I’ve never worn anything electronic in or on my ears.
But today will be different. For the first time, I’ll hunt with electronic hearing protection. And not some entry-level cheap stuff, we’re talking here about the Walkers Xcel 500bt Digital Electronic Muff with Voice Clarity & Bluetooth. Yeah, that’s a lot of words. Not sure why they didn’t call these things, the Tactical Advantage Ear Pro, or just the Cheetas, Renegades, or whatever else is short and easy. I tried the acronym for these Walkers muffs, WX500BTDEMVC, or something equally meaningless. So for this unorthodox review, we’ll just call them the Walkers, or Walkers Xcel 500BT. Deal?
Okay, so this will be different, and I’m eager to experience it.
Often, when an animal is in front of me and the adrenaline gets going, I can forget the little things. Usually, two of the little things are the earplugs in my chest pocket. So having ear protection that would protect me from the gunshot yet actually enhance my hearing the rest of time means I can put them on beforehand. No forgetting, no second-guessing, no lost opportunities. That’s the theory, anyway.
Back to the story… As I’m getting close to my secret sheep spot, I slide those babies on, press the “go” button, and the nice Siri-like lady in the muffs tells me I am good to go. Actually, she tells me I’m wearing “Walkers, Xcel” and that they are in the “Universal” mode. Thanks, Siri-Like Lady! I wonder if her last name is “Walker”?
I noticed immediately that the amplification of mostly higher-pitched sounds, such as rustling noises. Not that I have any bass drum in the wild to compare how that sounded, of course. Either way, I’m pretty interested in rustling or other tells that will help me take home the meat. These might just be pretty cool…
After what seems like forever, I finally spot two rams off in the distance. I move to head them off, not far from where the edge of an old lava flow meets the forest. I lose sight of them briefly, but when I suddenly find them again I am only 100 yards away. Sweet, right? Wrong, they see me.
They freeze and I pretend to be a statue. Or a tree. Anything but a human with a gun shopping for fresh meat. Every time they looked away for a second, I painstakingly ease behind a bush. Slowly I get my gun up.
Thank goodness I’m wearing the Walkers Xcel 500BT muffs! Seriously, I’m sure glad I’m not slo-mo rolling foam earplugs and jamming them into my head!
Wearing the Walkers is about to pay off. All of a sudden the boys caught my scent, and off they trotted, heading over a ridge of lava rock. I quickly drop to a knee and lob a shot off before they disappear. There’s no way I would’ve taken the time to put on or in ear protection if I hadn’t already been wearing it! As a result, I got the ram and kept my hearing!
And the fun doesn’t stop there!
After cleaning the ram and loading him up onto my back, I start the long walk to the truck. At this point, I have over 4 miles to go, and this particular hike is pretty rocky, desolate, and boring. With the better part of a sheep on my back, I’m not looking forward to the trudge out. But then I remember I have the Walkers Xcel Bluetooth version! So in true millennial style, I served up a stimulating podcast from my phone straight to the muffs as I hike.
With my mind occupied, I don’t notice my tired feet and back as much, and the trek feels a whole lot shorter! Maybe that’s not the use the manufacturer had intended, but I was pretty stoked! I suppose I could have called for pizza delivery to my car instead. Either way, the Bluetooth connection to my phone is a winner in my book.
So I can say that both me and 60-year old future-me with hearing problems, are both really excited to add the Walker’s Xcel ear protection to the hunting kit! When I’m out in the field, having one less step between spotting and blasting is a huge win! A big thanks to Walker’s for making my shopping trip safer and more enjoyable!