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Rick Bramwell

My luck at a raffle earlier this year went way past a couple of firearms. One of the things that came home with me was a pair of Howard Leight’s Impact Sport electronic shooting folding earmuffs. Since they have a port to plug-in iPods, MP3 players or other audio devices, I assumed they would be perfect for mowing the yard.

I inserted two AAA batteries then put the muffs over my ears and turned up the volume. In a tree outside my garage was a mockingbird. The song was beautiful and the sound sharp. As I played with the volume, the bird’s sound went up or down. I quickly realized these old factory ears had a new friend.

I plugged in my cellphone that was playing a radio app. The sound was amazing. Then I fired up the old John Deere. In a flash, I found the two did not have a symbiotic relationship. The two speakers also picked up the sound of the mower engine and amplified it. I would have to turn the speakers off to mow or use my old ear muffs.

These things are neat. I can wear them into the woods, and they will amplify sounds like a barking squirrel or the cluck of a hen turkey. Heck, I can now hear what people are saying behind my back.

Playing with this thing, I believe I can listen to a radio app and pick up the subtle forest sounds at the same time.

If the Impact Sport picks up a sound above 82 decibels, it will block it in 1/200th of a second. In other words, it will reduce the sound of your gunshot or any impulse noise.

Ambient sounds, like a deer walking or a turkey scratching for acorns, will — at up to a top volume of 82 decibels — give a hunter the edge on locating game.

The batteries last 360 hours, and the device shuts off automatically after four hours. They sell for about $40 with a noise reduction rating of 22 decibels. The muffs are compact and will not interfere with shooting a rifle or shotgun.

It’s not what you know but who you know, or in my case, who you are related to.

A couple of years ago, I bought a 1982 Bass Tracker aluminum boat with two depth finders, a 40 horsepower outboard and a trolling motor. Things quickly quit working. The radio, one of the fish finders, wiring and trailer lights all went kaput.

Last summer, while fishing Westwood Lake, my front deck caved in. Yes, a video of that event would have won awards.

During my quarantine, I showed my cousin Jay Bramwell, a jack of all trades, my boat. He said, “Take the front deck off and bring the boat over.”

He not only replaced the front deck but also rerigged the back deck with convenient hinges, installed a new Lowrance Hook 2 fish locator with side imaging and rewired the boat and trailer. Also, Cuz pealed back carpeting on the floor and replaced a soft spot with new marine plywood.

He even relocated the boat on the trailer for better balance. In the process, he moved the spare tire and wench. Where necessary, on the boat and trailer, Jay did some welding. And, least I forget, he repacked the wheel bearings.

My new old boat and I are looking good for this spring’s fishing.

Rick Bramwell’s outdoors column runs on Thursdays.

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