Listen up, folks! Lucas Mashtare has been with Tetra Hearing since the very beginning. And in the world of pursuit-based hearing protection, they’re now at the very top of the heap. But why? Lucas explains how Tetra Hearing systems work to protect the only only set of hearing the Good Lord gave us, how their innovative systems have evolved, and what systems are available. He also describes how Tetra Hearing–and customers–give back with a 2% for Conservation Program. Can you hear me now? Dang straight. Thanks Tetra!

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What’d You Say?

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, listen up, folks, I’m going to start today with an old story about there’s 3 old duck hunters sitting in a duck blind, it’s windy, they ain’t seen a duck in an hour and a half, the wind’s howling, the decoys are frosting. The one old boy is holding his cap and he says, God, it sure is windy out here and the boy next to him goes, today ain’t Wednesday, it’s Thursday and the guy next to him says, I’m thirsty, too, let’s call it quits and go back to the camp, drink a beer. That’s a funny joke to an old guy like me. Because I’m an old duck hunter, my ears ring. And to anybody listening whose ears ain’t ringing, it’s because you ain’t shot enough shotgun shells or because you’re young and ain’t shot enough shotgun shells. I go to some of these conventions and it never fails, old duck hunters coming in, we’re talking, we’re all looking at each other’s lips move and let the intercom come on and we all shut up because we can’t hear nothing. The good Lord gave me one set of ears and I didn’t protect them like I wished I had now as an old geezer. Joining me today is Lucas Mashtare, who is the VP of marketing from Tetra. And you all know I love Tetra Hearing. How the heck are you, Lucas?

Lucas Mashtare: Doing great, Ramsey. Thank you for having me on today.

Ramsey Russell: You ever meet any old duck hunters like that, that can’t hear nothing besides me?

Lucas Mashtare: Yeah, they always start with a funny joke. What’d you say? That’s the most commonly asked question when they ask where I’m from, what I do for work. And that’s the most common phrase I’ve received in the last year and 3 months or so.

Ramsey Russell: It’s like the number one word uttered by an old duck hunter “huh”, we all say it. And the truth of the matter is, Lucas, the technology to protect hearing did not exist for most of my shooting career. You know what I’m saying? I mean, really and truly, the kind of hearing that Tetra hearing protection that you all produce today is kind of a new phenomena. Back in the old days and I did this with my kids when they were little, I put these old ear muffs on them. Well, great, you can’t hear nothing. And we did have, back in the day when I was in my 20s and 30s, you go get your ear filled with foam and they make a rubber mold and you stick in there and buddy, you couldn’t hear nothing. You know what I’m saying? I mean, you couldn’t hear nothing. You couldn’t hear the duck call when you’re blowing, protected your hearing. But the problem with so much of what we do, ducks and turkeys, even deer, you’ve got to have hearing. I need to hear those ducks talking back, I need to hear those wings. I’m sitting there looking at the water or looking down, I need to hear those wings and those ducks chatting to know where they are and what they’re doing without looking at them. For so long I did not wear hearing protection and man, I’m paying the toll. I sent you all my hearing test so that you all could calibrate my shields. And I tell you how bad it was, folks. Left to right on this chart, it’s real deep in base and the further right you go, the more high pitched it gets. And about midway on that scale, it just took a 90° turn straight down the page. And the guy here in Brandon that orchestrated my hearing test, he says, wanted to try to sell me some hearing aids, well, no, sir, I’m in here to get some hearing protection. These boys up here at Tetra, they’re going to take my hearing test and they’re going to calibrate it specifically for my hearing, it’s going to protect my hearing. He gave me the exam for free. He said, your hearing is so bad, the fact that somebody’s going to help you protect what you’ve got left, it’s on the house. But at midway through that page, it went straight down. He told me that whatever that scale is and I don’t know how you read it in decibels or frequencies and nothing else, but midway across that page, the high pitched sounds had to be as loud as a shotgun going off for me to even register them. How bad is it? That’s pretty bad, isn’t it, Lucas?

What Is Tetra All About?

Those higher pitches, like the whistling wings, for instance, that’s something that Tetra really strives to revive in hunters and bring back to life. 

Lucas Mashtare: It’s really bad. Yeah. So what Ramsey’s talking about is equivalent to a VA hearing test. So what that is, it takes you through a series of high to low frequencies by decibel level. And what Ramsey is talking about and a lot of old duck hunters is referring to is those lower frequencies are generally a lot more difficult to hear. Those higher pitches, like the whistling wings, for instance, that’s something that Tetra really strives to revive in hunters and bring back to life. So not only are we helping protect what you do have left, but we’re also bringing you back up to level, to your youthful self and allowing you to hear those sounds you’ve been missing for years. So that’s where Ramsey really fell in love with Tetra and honestly, we’ve loved the support and partnership with Ramsey just in the fact that he’s helping us set the standard, not just through his audience from a global scale to really say, hey, man, this wasn’t a topic of discussion for years, but now it is and it’s a serious one. But from a storytelling aspect, Ramsay, you say it far better than I do.

Ramsey Russell: I remind myself of an old professor I had at Mississippi State University that taught me, he was a retired artillery something other than the military and he shouted, I mean, shouted at the top of his lungs when he talked and when you said something and we all kind of shouted back, but not shout. He’d always cup his hands and look see once who said something and point to you, so you can shout it to him again while he could read your lips. And, boy, I don’t want to be that guy. And really, I think he probably had what I’ve got, which a lot of duck hunters have. A lot of hunters have is tinnitus. It’s just a ringing of the ears that really is what it’s trying to do and is blocking that high pitched stuff. Now see here to say, I’m not saying I’m deaf, buddy, I can hear you whispering in a sawmill, you know what I’m saying? But I can’t hear a high pitched alarm go off on my wrist. One of my famous deaf stories was, I was in graduate school or something or taking a course, good looking teacher. And probably the only reason I showed up, now to think of as undergraduate school, it’s probably the only reason I showed up, because you look good. And one day she slammed down the marker and turned around and just started just going off on the class about the disturbance. And I’m looking around, everybody’s looking around, find a girl behind me, poked me in the back and said, turn your watch off, dumb ass, she can hear your alarm. And I held it up, I couldn’t hear it going off, I guess it’d been going off all semester, I didn’t even know it. So it was kind of bad then because of tinnitus, but it’s a bad situation to be into. And the thing about it is, I’ve got to tell this story for those who hadn’t heard it. I don’t know, 10, 15 years ago, I was in a duck blind in Mississippi, a really nice club, cypress brake and there were 6 of us, shoulder to shoulder and a great blind, the duck were flying, a lot of gadwall just poured, it’s like somebody was shaking pepper on the duck, the gadwall just coming in, you could tell in the daylight, it’s going to be one of them days. And my host was about 3 guys down and he handed me, like, one of them headsets, one of those, you put them on like a headphones and you turn it on it’s electrical and he handed it down there to me and I put them on and wow, I did not realize I couldn’t hear those gadwalls. I didn’t realize so much that I had been missing out on. And then the next day, he handed them back down to me and I go and just crack being a wise, I’m like, what are you trying to tell me, I’m deaf? And the whole blind said at the same time, yeah, you’re freaking deaf, you’re zoning out like Forrest Gump. We’re having conversations to you and you’re just looking out across the water, can’t hear nothing. I’m like, wow. But you know the problem with those headsets, Lucas? For a shooter, it interferes with your mount. For those listening that aren’t familiar with your product, talk about some of – just give us an overview of what you do, what separates Tetra, because there is a difference from the other in ear electronic hearing protection devices and some of the kind of your pioneer models. Just give me an overview of it real quick.

What the Difference Between Tetra & Other Hearing Protection Devices?

So being able to hone in on those key frequencies you want to hear, while at the same time never totally shutting off, just bringing things that are harmful to your ears, which is anything over 80 decibels down to a safe listening level of 24 decibels and it really allows us to amplify the sounds you want to hear, but at the same time, protect your ears against everything you don’t. 

Lucas Mashtare: Yeah, absolutely. Just to break it down, we’re running equivalency of a 16 band frequency hearing aid. So for those that suffer from hearing loss, we bring you up to level by ear, because obviously, if you’re a right handed or a left handed shooter, your opposite is always going to be the one affected most. So if you’re a right handed shooter, it’s usually your left ear is going first. And a lot of people can relate to that because you can tell right away when they say, hey, I’m having trouble hearing out of this ear, you can generally guess what side they shoot on with their gun, which is kind of interesting. But being able to really dive in and hone in what sets Tetra apart is our standard target optimization programs, we call it STO. So what that allows us to do is take key frequencies in that hunting scenario or that experience or that pursuit that you’re after. So, obviously, for Ramsay, it’s duck hunting and chasing waterfowl and whistling wings. So being able to hone in on those key frequencies you want to hear, while at the same time never totally shutting off, just bringing things that are harmful to your ears, which is anything over 80 decibels down to a safe listening level of 24 decibels and it really allows us to amplify the sounds you want to hear, but at the same time, protect your ears against everything you don’t. So when you’re taking that kid on his first duck hunt, you can literally talk all the way through the trigger pull and coat some along the way. While a lot of our competitors on the market will literally shut off, so a lot of them run 4 bands of frequency, it takes away from the experience you can’t call with the devices in your ears. And that’s where we really wanted to set the standard and set the stage to be a little bit different and be the device that you want to keep in your ears all day and just forget about them, rather than it being an uncomfortable, horrible experience in the blind or in the deer woods or the turkey woods, so on and so forth. So really, it’s those pursuits based programs that really allow us to stand out, because that’s what’s allowed us to actually grow as a company and keep developing new and innovative technologies. So I know Ramsey and I talked about it a little bit. Last year, we actually had the ability to launch 2 new programs, which one was our dog training program and then the other one was our land management program. So with that dog training program specifically, we were able to take cues from Garmin e-collar devices, hone in on the key frequencies and sounds you need from AKC certified events and time trialed events and obviously take them through the gamut. Reduce brush noise, reduce the launcher blast going off. So it really allows us to fine tune your experience, whether you’re in the field in a training scenario or running a lawnmower in your backyard. So that’s really the technology behind Tetra and why we stand apart from the rest.

Ramsey Russell: I have used in ear electronic hearing protection in the past, several brands. To me, one of the key points you’re talking about, I go and take a hearing test and you all do a hearing test online. But it ain’t the same as being in your booth. I was impressed. I’m going to tell you right now, Lucas, I was impressed to show up to your booth at Safari Club and you all had a hearing department in there. I went to my local and got the test printed off and sent you a screenshot. And what you all did then, it’d be the same as I’m getting hearing aids, because my hearing loss may be different than hearing loss and her hearing loss, you all are going in and building these program profiles for my hearing, my left ear and my right ear, specific to the different frequency ranges that turkey or deer or ducks or construction or retriever training. And I think it makes all the difference in the world.

Lucas Mashtare: No, absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: It makes all the difference in the world.

Lucas Mashtare: Absolutely. No 2 ears are the same. It’s not a baseball hat where it’s one size fits all. And we do have our universal models, but at the end of the day, it’s the technology inside those devices that needs to change by that individual. So if you haven’t used and abused your ears near enough, like Ramsay, honestly, you might need devices without hearing loss. And gradually, over time, I’m sure you’re going to be exposed to more and more noise, more and more hazardous or potential hazardous sounds. So over time, obviously, hearing loss is a thing. But if you catch it earlier and we set the standard together, that’s something that doesn’t need to become a thing. You look at old crane operators and guys who’ve either served in the military or folks who’ve just been exposed to construction or just taking even foam earplugs in and out just to effectively communicate, it’s highly and extremely overlooked. But being able to set the standard and say, okay, we finally found some devices where we can communicate clearly with devices still in our ears or protection in our ears, that’s been the biggest reason. That’s been the biggest scapegoat for guys not to wear hearing protection all these years.

Ramsey Russell: I’m going to change the subject just a little bit, I want to circle back. Who are you? Who is Lucas? Now, I know this because we were talking at SCI and there wasn’t many minutes that I had free to talk or you had free to talk, that freaking show was off the rails. You remember we kept trying to do podcasts at the show, we’ll meet at such and such a time and you’ll record me or I’ll record you because you all got a great podcast, too and we never worked out. Because it’s like the minute they opened the doors, people started running down the aisles. What a great show that was. But I did learn, we met one day for a few minutes out there in the breezeway and you were telling me you’re the most tenured employee at Tetra Hearing.

It Always Starts with a Hunt

Grew up mostly as a bow hunter and bow hunting whitetail and obviously turkey hunter, where I like to pick up a shotgun from time to time.

Lucas Mashtare: So we’ve had some changes and passing of the guard and so on and so forth, but we’ve got a really strong team at Tetra right now, very personable. If you’ve been at NWTF or SCI or called Tetra on the phone, it’s a very personalized experience. So you’ve probably talked to somebody on the team, there’s 5 guys on the team at Tetra right now as it stands and everybody rolls up their sleeves and wears a different hat on a daily basis. But it’s a cool concept. And at the end of the day, not only are we protecting ears, we’re building relationships in that community that goes with it. So I know Ramsey asked, who am I? And honestly, I grew up hunting all my life. Obviously didn’t know I’d get into the hunting sector necessarily, but was actually originally from the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. Met my wife, actually, we’re high school sweethearts, so actually moved down south together. We were just friends at the time and busted down south. Grew up mostly as a bow hunter and bow hunting whitetail and obviously turkey hunter, where I like to pick up a shotgun from time to time.

Ramsey Russell: You all have got some good deer hunting and good turkey hunting in western New York, don’t know? When most people think of New York, they think of New York City, but most of the state is not New York City.

Lucas Mashtare: No, you’re right in the flyaway, too. I mean, we used to do layout goose sets all the time, especially when I was actually a Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, back before it was frowned upon, I guess. And we used to do hunting trips, honestly, like, we’d go sit out in farmers’ fields and set up. And that was how I grew up, man, ice fishing, working dogs, shooting winter leagues and skating trap. And it was a really cool experience being up there.

Ramsey Russell: Have you ever duck hunted on the Finger Lakes?

Lucas Mashtare: I have. Where I grew up, it was a small town called Bloomfield, New York. And it was smack dab between Canandaigua and Honeoye Lakes. And they’re all named after Iroquois Indian tribes, obviously. But yeah, that’s where I spent a lot of time, actually, is duck hunting and goose hunting right there.

Ramsey Russell: That’s probably one of the most unique duck hunting experiences I’ve ever done. Because all those Finger Lakes are just wall to wall vacation homes. The whole shoreline is just shoulder to shoulder vacation homes. And the times we duck hunting, we shot bufflehead and blue bills and whatnot coming in. The dive was big old rig out there, but we were literally spitting distance from the man’s back porch. I mean, we’re literally sitting in somebody’s backyard, like kids camping in a tent in your backyard, literally sitting in somebody’s backyard in a big old duck blind, shooting the heck out of duck, it was the most unique thing I’ve ever seen. And ironically, because all of New York ain’t New York City, ironically, every flag up and down, every pennant up and down the lake was a Trump flag, we were in Trump country. That was what surprised me the most, we were in Trump country in New York.

Lucas Mashtare: Yeah. No, there’s a lot of gun toting Americans up there, that’s for sure. And honestly, I still go up from time to time. We usually go up during turkey season and usually go up during whitetail season for early bow. And I strategically plan the family vacations to do just that. And I know you spent time, Ramsey, on Lake Champlain, too, which I’ve actually been able to sink my teeth into that, which obviously is right there between New York and Vermont. So, both my parents are actually from Vermont originally, so growing up, I spent a lot of time on Lake Champlain because there’s a small island, a small chain of islands, one being North Hero, this is kind of a twofold story, but that’s really why Tetra hits home for me. So that’s where my dad grew up, is right there on the lake in North Hero, Vermont on Lake Champlain. I mean, it was awesome, it felt like every time I’d visit family, it was a true vacation. Like, we were jumping off of bridges that you weren’t supposed to, you’re ice fishing, moving docks, like, yes, you’re working, but it was always fun. But then my grandfather actually was a firefighter, crane operator and actually, my other grandfather, who was up there, served in World War II. And that’s where Tetra really hits home for me, is that my grandfather, my dad’s dad, actually lost his hearing, not totally, but he suffered from later stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s. And I remember when he was getting, it was about to be his time and he couldn’t remember my name. And that really hit home for me, just thinking of the kids I have at home here, I’ve got a 3 year old and a 6 year old, but not being able to hear the pitter patter of feet, not being able to remember those loved ones, those friends, those memories, I mean, those are things that all hit home for me. And that’s how it became kind of twofold when I made the decision to come over to Tetra. So that’s one of the things where Tetra really hits home for me. But growing up in that area, it’s fun to talk about because I don’t get to enough, because a lot of people don’t see it like you do, Ramsey. Everyone, when you talk to them, when they say, oh, you’re from New York or your wife’s from New York, so on and so forth, they don’t understand, it’s pretty country up there.

A Duck Hunter is a Duck Hunter

At the end of the day, we may have different hunting techniques and different hunting habitats and different species, but we’re all just duck hunters.

Ramsey Russell: You know what else shocks me is you start getting up around New Jersey, New York in that part of the country now when you’re on the highway systems, I have a hard time telling sometimes when I’ve left one city and entered another or left one state and entered another, because it’s all kind of blends together. But New Jersey, which is right there in New York’s backyard, we hunted up there, too, at those salt marshes and it was just going right through downtown Atlantic city to a boat ramp and man, you are in the heartbeat of civilization. And a half mile off the boat ramp, it’s like the 1700s. I mean, you’re just in raw marsh with gazillions of black ducks and it’s just the strangest thing to get to experience that. And again, of course, maybe because I’m a duck hunter and I’m associated with all duck hunters, I guess I live in Trump country because of all the duck hunters. But it seems like every crowd I go into, I ain’t knocking them if they’re a client. But same time, I think most of my clients are Republicans and Conservative. But anyway, I think that’s pretty interesting. And what I’ve noticed is from California to New York, a duck hunter is a duck hunter. At the end of the day, we may have different hunting techniques and different hunting habitats and different species, but we’re all just duck hunters.

Lucas Mashtare: No, 100% Ramsay. Hey, if you hear any background noise, it’s because I got roosters, apparently and they left the door open. The little wilder, my little man.

Ramsey Russell: That’s part of it, man. We were talking about that before the show, Lucas. Since COVID especially working remote and working from home, I think we all do it now, I think most people do. One thing that gets me is that every now and again, the great thing about working from home, you get to spend time with your kids. The bad thing about working from home is you never leave the office.

Lucas Mashtare: No, that’s right.

Ramsey Russell: The workday never ends because it’s all right there in front of you.

Lucas Mashtare: It’s hard to turn off.

Ramsey Russell: For those that can doing stuff like we do, I think it’s great working at home. How old is your kid?

Lucas Mashtare: So we’ve got a 3 year old named Wilder and then a 6 year old named Tennessee, they are both wide open.

Ramsey Russell: You got your hands full.

Lucas Mashtare: They wanted to say hi while they were passing through the office. I’ve lived in the south about 12 years now, 4 years ago –

Ramsey Russell: What brought you to the south? How did you end up in the south?

Lucas Mashtare: So I moved down south, my dad actually is a head engineer on the turbine system for GE. So when he moved down, I took a while, I was actually a firefighter and EMT, so I finished all of that training while I was in New York. So I lived up there by myself for about a year and then eventually transplanted down. Really wanted to be in the service industry, helping people, that was what I really wanted to do at the time. Took every test from Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina, up to Charlotte and took every firefighting test and was on every list known to man. I actually still hold the PT record in a couple of those states and a couple of those city departments, but I got sick of it. Actually enlisted into the military, so I was actually in the army, I went in as a special force recruit and signed a 6 year contract. So when I went in, I was stationed at Fort Benning and Bragg, went through infantry training, airborne school, then got shipped up to Fort Bragg and went through the Q course. So that’s kind of how my military career went. It was mostly training, mostly school, disciplined, and unfortunately, I actually got injured in training. So they gave me an option to either get out and use my GI bill or reclassify to a non-combative MOS. So I went with the latter, just knowing what the political stance was at the time and they paid for my schooling. So at that point in my life, I missed hunting and I missed being in the outdoors. I wasn’t doing it for about 3.5, 4 years of my life. So that’s what I tailored my degree at Clemson University into and it was sports management and marketing. So I co-opt at the Clinton house plantation, helped guide pheasant hunts, turkey hunts, deer hunts, put in millet fields, set up dove fields, 3 gun courses for guys who wanted to shoot competitively with Palmetto State Armory. And honestly, it was a great experience. Thought I was too old for school at the time, looking back now, I might have rushed it. Who knows? Got my degree in about 2.5 years, Bachelor’s, went to go work at Georgia Department of Natural Resources, where I was a hunting and shooting education specialist for about 2.5 years. So we would actually implement hunter education into the school system. And then I was 1 of 2 varsity level shotgun instructors, so we would go around the state and actually, as part of the scholastic clay target program, teach mostly parents and some ag education teachers, some of them are PE coaches and so on and so forth. But we would teach them how to be shotgun instructors for their school and throw on that event. And there was a lot of grants tied into it, too, just to obviously activate and get more hunting licenses sold in the state of Georgia. So it was a really cool experience, so that was my public sign.

The Importance of Learning to Handle Firearms Safely

…I love the fact that it teaches them not only firearm safety, it teaches them about conservation, it teaches them about just being a responsible ethical sportsman.

Ramsey Russell: I really didn’t know that a lot of schools like that, because you’re much younger than I am, I didn’t know a lot of schools were still teaching that. When I graduated high school in 1984, I had to have 16 credits, half a credit was driver’s education, half a credit was hunter’s education, taught in the same classroom, just different parts of the year, taught by the PE teacher. I thought everybody at the time did it, but since then, the world has changed. I’m glad to see that you still got those kinds of shooting sports and incentives out there in some of these school systems.

Lucas Mashtare: Oh, yeah. And that’s why I love the south, man, because growing up north, they didn’t have that. If you were a hunter up north, it’s generally because your dad was or his dad was, like it was a generational pass down or a pastime, really. But down here, it’s one of those things, it becomes part of the curriculum. Obviously, it is by choice, but the options there, which is great. So having my kids grow up in this area and knowing that South Carolina also participates in some of those programs, I love the fact that it teaches them not only firearm safety, it teaches them about conservation, it teaches them about just being a responsible ethical sportsman. And that’s a big component of it. And it’s vastly overlooked.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I think we all ought to have handle firearms. And I think if you got children and young people, if you got firearms in the house, you need to let them touch it and handle it and kind of lose their interest in it. You hear about these children handling guns and obviously they haven’t been instructed and I think they do. It’s important to me, having guns around the house and we do. From the time my kids were babies, I’d take them out of safe and just show it to them, we’d let them hold it and let them touch it, we talk about it, then I put it back up with the instructions. If you’re ever at a friend’s house and they show your daddy’s gun, you come home, you know what I’m saying? Because familiarity, I think, makes children safer from handling guns and accidents and stuff like that. Teach them from an early age about the safety and about keeping the muzzle, never pulling a muzzle in anybody’s direction that kind of stuff, I think is important.

Lucas Mashtare: Oh, it’s crazy, too. Oh, go ahead.

Ramsey Russell: No, go ahead.

Lucas Mashtare: I was just going to say too, Ramsay, to your point, even my time spent in the military, it was amazing to see because you get all walks of life coming in, especially in enlistment, you got guys who’ve never handled a firearm in their life who are coming from inner cities or haven’t ever been exposed to firearms. I remember growing up, I was probably like the little dude with the Red Rider BB gun on the Christmas store, honestly, where we learned from an early age, how to not only keep a firearm, how to lock it up, how to clean it, how to use it, but you think about how many people in this day and age don’t actually know those principles. It’s sad to think about, but you get into those different stages. I know even in my time guiding, you could tell hands down who is former military versus who grew up hunting. Because just the different carry techniques of a firearm. Say you’re on a quail hunt and you got 3 military guys and one of them has actually hunted upland before, you’re going to get a lot of dogs flagged in a hunt quick like that. And it’s just because how they grew up and a lot of it’s not knowing better. But I will say that some of the best marksmen I’ve ever seen and some of the best instinctive shotgun shooters even, are generally people who have no bad habits, which is crazy to think.

Ramsey Russell: It’s funny you say that, because I’ve been shooting a gun since I was a child with a BB gun and everything else. And one time I was talking to a federal firearm instructor at like federal law enforcement training center and he told me that he would rather have a 25 year old woman that had never touched a gun as a student than a guy like me that grew up shooting BB guns and shooting with granddaddy and shooting a shotgun when I was 6, 7 years old. He said, because you’ve got so many bad habits, I can’t fix them. He said, time in and time out, you showed me a serious mid 20 year old woman that never handled a gun, she goes to that course, she’s probably going to outshoot and out handle any firearm he puts in her hands than a guy like me, because of those bad habits and just that stuff we grew up with.

Lucas Mashtare: And this is a topic that even talking to Bill about and I think you’ll find this interesting, Ramsey. I remember, even I can take it back to basic training, for instance, how many guns you’d see knocked off the side or kicked into people’s faces had then they been able to hear. At the time, I believe it was like 3M earplugs was like the official hearing protection of the US military. And I remember people doing something incorrect, who’ve never handled a firearm in their life, but not being able to effectively communicate with that person on the shooting line or to coach them through the trigger pull, it makes me think back. And that’s where I geek out about Tetra, is if you could implement Tetra’s technology into those scenarios, you would have an unbelievable marksman, especially with someone with zero bad habits and you can take your time and truly coach and instruct them from the line, that’s what’s missing.

Tinnitus: A Hunter’s Worst Enemy

But usually it’d be your left ear, because when you’re on your stock with your face, your left ear is pointed forward towards the gun barrel and then obviously vice versa if you’re a left handed shooter. 

Ramsey Russell: Growing up, I was a bare hand shooter, bare ears, no hearing protection, no shooting glasses, none of that stuff. I started going down to Cordoba, Argentina back in the day, not now, but back in the day, it was extreme shooting. It was as many shotgun shells as you ever dreamed of pulling in a minute or an hour or a day. And everybody said, you need shoulder protection. And you don’t want those old strap on, store bought Walmart, you want a real shoulder protection if you’re going to wear it. And if you don’t shoot a lot throughout the course of year, you do definitely need it. Hearing protection, gloves and some glasses. Because when you start shooting a lot of shotgun shells, you got a lot of powder coming out, the more you shoot, the dirtier that action is getting, the more powder is coming back in you, hearing protection because you’re shooting so much. And I would put, back in the day, because I’m dove hunting, I don’t need to listen to those ducks working. So I would put just some old injectables inside my ear, just totally deaf. And one thing I noticed is even back then, is things like wearing gloves and I wear just real thin leather, uninsulated gloves just fit like a glove, literally speaking. I wear hearing protection now, Tetra and if the sun’s out, especially I’m wearing sunglasses or something. And I’ve noticed that, especially wearing that hearing protection, that my mental acuity and my fatigue, not only am I hearing better, but at the end of the hunt, my ears aren’t ringing, my head’s not hurting, I’m not as mentally tired, I’m still mentally sharp. Does that make sense? It’s a lot going on. It’s one thing if I go out and shoot 6 or 7 times, it’s something else entirely different if I’m shooting a box or two of shells, especially at ducks and geese here in the states, big, heavy loads. It’s something about protecting yourself from that overwhelming environment, you’re not only just protecting your hearing, but you’re protecting your sanity and keeping yourself sharp to shoot. Have you ever heard anything like that?

Lucas Mashtare: Absolutely. Tinnitus, that’s literally the after effect or the aftermath of tinnitus. You think of how many guys in the construction field who don’t wear hearing protection and then they suffer from like, well, they’ll say it’s like vertigo or they’re feeling dizzy or lightheaded at the end of the day, at the long day of work. But a lot of it’s just overexposure for your ears in a day, too. The heavy machinery you’re using. Same applies to the duck hunter. I mean, think about it, you’re not only being affected by your gun going off, I mean, you’re running the risk of being muzzle blasted by 5 other guys in a duck blind on average or in a dove field, there’s several guns out there. But between the communication, the sounds, the overexposure, yeah, 100%. That leads to fatigue, without a doubt.

Ramsey Russell: You said earlier that you could tell one ear is always worse than the other. I’m assuming that if I’m a right hand shooter, my shells are coming out of a semi-automatic to the right, it’s probably my right ear that is suffering the worst.

Lucas Mashtare: If you’re a right handed shooter, it should be your left ear, Ramsay, just because –

Ramsey Russell: Is that because guy next to me his actions going off in my ear or what?

Lucas Mashtare: Yeah. So if your right ear is suffering a lot, it’s probably the guy to your right or where the gun muzzle is pointed. But usually it’d be your left ear, because when you’re on your stock with your face, your left ear is pointed forward towards the gun barrel and then obviously vice versa if you’re a left handed shooter. So generally that is. Obviously, there’s different scenarios. I mean, say you run a chainsaw or something of that nature, you’re exposed differently. But for the most part, if you’re running a weed eater, running a chainsaw, your ear and your head positioning is going to be oriented pretty close to how you shoot a shotgun.

Ramsey Russell: That makes perfect sense now that you described it. I bet my left ear is the most deaf. Boy, the way you’re describing it, it’d really be bad for a left hand shooter shooting a right handed gun. I can see where both of his ears are getting damaged.

Lucas Mashtare: Doubling up. And I know a couple of my buddies are the goofball lefties and it takes them a minute to get a shotgun, first and foremost. So I know they’ve probably caused more harm to their ear shooting my guns than I could have ever imagined, honestly.

Ramsey Russell: I met with Bill Dickinson before, he and I have been friends for a while and he was on here, of course, last year, we were talking about Tetra, he’s an audiologist and he described how this pursuit based hearing concept was born in Nashville with all the music folks. We’re going up there to convention this year and everybody kept talking about Nash Vegas, I’m like, what are they talking know? Of course, the last time I’d been to Nashville, Opryland was a major theme park, it ain’t no more. And, man, it’s really turned. I mean, you walk around the block of 5, every door’s got another band playing, every single one of them, for miles, every bar has got another band playing. There’s a lot of musical entertainment, big name and little name both. And he described how using that hearing system on stage really protected. What makes me think of is at SCI, my wife and I went to go see Leonard Skinner on the last night just to blow some steam off. And man, the current band of Leonard Skinner has been practicing those songs for 40 years, they’ve been up there a while and every one of them was wearing hearing protection. Every single one of them was wearing here and protection. It ain’t like the old days, Ronnie Van waving around stage and bell bottom jeans because it’s a lot of environmental pollution up there that day after night after night, they’ve got to protect their hearing. But that’s kind of how this pursuit based and this became a thing isn’t was just the fact that you all are in Nashville and now it’s evolved and evolved. I want to talk about something. You all have got a new Bluetooth, a new Bluetooth program going. Well, tell me about this new Bluetooth hearing device. And what are the advantages of Bluetooth versus – number 1, I want to talk about the Alpha Shield, that was my first introduction to Tetra, was an Alpha Shield, it’s a universal fit, it was the most comfortable thing I have ever used, it protected my hearing, but it was comfortable, I forgot it was there. And then you’ve got another system that you make a mold and it fits my ear, I put it in there.

The Most Comfortable Hearing Aid You’ll Ever Wear

But a lot of guys have actually upgraded or moved into our Custom Shields, which basically, Ramsey, we take an ear impression and take that impression, turn it into a custom for you fitting earpiece for both of your ears and then we put the same program that’s in the Alpha Shields into that.

Lucas Mashtare: And those are your Custom Shields you have right now.

Ramsey Russell: Custom Shields, you all call it, that’s right. And that’s what I wear is a Custom Shield. But now you’ve taken those Custom Shields, I know and it’s evolved into Bluetooth technology. What is Bluetooth doing for me the user?

Lucas Mashtare: So Bluetooth is just obviously a little more cutting edge, a little more techie, the same exact program still exists. What we did with our Bluetooth device, Ramsey. So when you ran through the fit model, really all the technology at Tetra is exactly the same. So the only thing that changes from device to device is use case scenario and then fit. So it’s literally based off of what you hunt, how heavy you are on the trigger pull. And obviously you as a duck hunter, obviously you’re pulling the trigger quite often, especially when you go dove hunting in Argentina. So if you break it down, truly, we’ve got our amp pods, which are part of our universal fit line. So you would use amp pods specifically for one trigger pull, it’s really more of a hearing enhancement, less protection, if that makes sense. So a lot of guys who turkey hunt, deer hunt, elk hunt, will generally drift over in that direction. Then next, which you started out with Ramsay, is your Alpha Shields. So our Alpha Shields have a 95% fit rate, more protection, obviously, than the amp pod. And it’s just literally how it fits your ears and what you want at that point. So at a 95% fit rate, we thought that those would be hands down our best seller, they still are. But a lot of guys have actually upgraded or moved into our Custom Shields, which basically, Ramsey, we take an ear impression and take that impression, turn it into a custom for you fitting earpiece for both of your ears and then we put the same program that’s in the Alpha Shields into that. So now, in February, we launched our first ever Bluetooth model. And what this actually provides is a 5.3 technology Bluetooth device. So it has a triple driver system, which is equivalent to those in ear monitors, you probably saw the guys from Leonard Skinner wearing up there on stage. So it really, truly sets your listening level on another level. So one of our biggest pieces of feedback that we got from the consumer was, man, I would love to be able to take these devices and take them, use them for phone calls, conference calls, take meetings on them, flip them over, make my duck hunting, listen to some Ramsey Russell podcasts, listen to some Leonard Skinner on there. So we literally took those devices and from a Bluetooth aspect, made it not only a listening device for when you’re hunting, which it is, I mean, it’ll still protect your ears, it’ll still do everything that all our devices do for you. But now it has gone another level where it has allowed you to use these and become your do all. So whether you’re working at the gym, whether you’re running heavy machinery, it has an environmental mic. So a lot of companies out there, Apple, Bose, you’ve heard them, they love to call out their noise canceling technology, which is great. But what if there’s a safety concern? So, say you’re a female running through campus and its dark out, say there’s a safety concern that’s come apparent. We have an environmental mic actually installed on the devices, it’s a little, tiny hole, you have to look for it pretty heavily. But that environmental mic allows you to actually pick up on safety cues and hazards. So what that allows you to do is say you’re running on the side of the road and a car gets too close, you can actually pick up on that tire noise before it comes. Because on average, your hearing is about 30% faster than your visual response. So with that extra time, it allows you to get out of harm’s way and into better scenarios. So that’s kind of the thought process and the technology that went into the development of the Bluetooth device and it’s our first rev and our first model of the Bluetooth device and we prototyped it for the last year and it’s quite substantial. We did have to make the Bluetooth removable because, as we had mentioned, we work a lot with the scholastic clay target program, as well as several college teams. We actually sponsor the Michigan State shotgun shooting team and they can’t actually shoot with Bluetooth technology at the line just because it can be a distraction. You don’t want people listening to music while they’re shooting, generally. So that’s where we make it removable. So it does not have to be a Bluetooth device all the time, you can actually remove those with the two prong system and then they just become your regular Custom Shields, Ramsay.

Personalized Hearing Solutions for Hunters

 So if I pull the trigger one time at a pistol range or one duck, bam, it’s going to attenuate and it’s going to turn back on to where I can hear normal. 

Ramsey Russell: Well, I also own hearing aids and mine Bluetooth to a phone app, I use them. And where I really like hearing aids would be in a busy restaurant in terms of hearing, if I’m out in the field, I’ve got in my Tetras. If I’m in more of an office setting or public setting, you can’t hardly see them saying a little wire, typical hearing aid, modern hearing aid and it’s got that Bluetooth technology. But the main thing it’s got that I like and the reason I got them is because on that app, I’ve got a white noise level and I can crank that thing up and it offsets that tinnitus, it puts that to rest. But then if I’m in a classroom or like a busy restaurant, I can really knock back a lot of that background noise. I’m saying all this to say this, that’s the wave of the future in these hearing devices. The difference in a hearing aid versus a Tetra is the fact that at a loud noise, I think he said over 80 decibels, something happens to where it compresses or attenuates that loud noise into a safe level.

Lucas Mashtare: And that’s called –

Ramsey Russell: How does that work? What is it doing? Just turning down the volume real quick?

Lucas Mashtare: Yes. Basically, it’s condensing it based off the frequency level and how it comes in and then it’s just bringing it down to that safe listening level. So a lot of it is through our Alpha Shield compression technology, which is one of our patented programs that also sets us apart, other than just the pursuit based. And that allows it to be essentially condensed in layman’s terms and then brought down to that safe listening level of 24 decibels.

Ramsey Russell: 24 decibels. So if I pull the trigger one time at a pistol range or one duck, bam, it’s going to attenuate and it’s going to turn back on to where I can hear normal. What about if it’s bam, bam, like a bunch of guys in a firecracker string in a pit blind or bam, bam. Is it going to stay attenuated and protect my hearing that whole time?

Lucas Mashtare: It will, Ramsay. We do like to say, though, especially if you’re on a shooting lane or say you’re in an enclosed area or have cover overhead, like a tin roof of a shooting house, for instance. We do like to recommend guys wear muffs over top of your devices and that’s just common. I mean, you think of how many guys shoot 3 gun, long range, precision shooting, so on and so forth, if you have continuous noise like that, it is detriment to double up on protection essentially. Our technology still works, but we do recommend putting muffs on if you’re exposed or have a cover overhead, just because the blowback from that will still leak through and you don’t want that. That’s why you see so many guys at the range, especially if they’re shooting like 50 cows or just like, I mean, you look at some of these ARs nowadays and these different platforms, a lot of guys will double up on hearing protection, whether it’s foam earplugs and muffs or something like Tetra and muffs. So that is something that we do recommend to folks.

Ramsey Russell: What about ported shotguns?

Lucas Mashtare: So if it’s ported, if you’re in an open area, it would be fine. But if you’re in an enclosed space, like we said, if you had something overhead, we would recommend doubling up too.

Ramsey Russell: Tetra, there’s a lot of product out there, there’s a lot of similar products, there’s a lot of in ear electronic hearing protection devices. There used to be just one on like a hearing muff, now the market is proliferate with it. Tetra is the best I’ve ever used because it’s customized and a lot of the different reasons we talked about. But it ain’t just me saying that. And I’m going to back up and go back to SCI convention. You all, in just a year, let alone last 2 or 3, 4 years, you all have blown up. To me, Tetra represents the absolute top of the food chain in hearing protection. And it’s not just me saying, it’s the entire market saying this. Is that a fair assessment? I’m going to ask you. I know you, Tetra, but I’m going to ask you. Am I just imagining things?

Lucas Mashtare: No, I think you’re absolutely right. And partners like you, Ramsey and getting the word out, the Tetra community as a whole has been a fantastic support system. A lot of guys, just at the very beginning, especially, like, when I got here, like, I dissect our website, I’d be like, well, where do you start? How do you go about purchasing these? What are the steps? So that’s when we created the Tetra process. And then working with guys like you, Ramsay, you have a noble audience, but at the same time, it becomes a relatable topic. And when you think about it, hearing and the memories created a field, I mean, that is literally what you want to remember. So being able to tie that into hearing protection and wearing hearing protection, not taking away from the overall experience, but then also kind of setting the standard. And we honestly don’t care if you’re wearing somebody else’s devices, as long as you’re protecting your ears, that’s what comes first and foremost for Tetra as a brand. After that, we want to be the brand that you save for. So whether you’re wearing foam earplugs until you’re ready to make that purchase, because we do know we’re running a circuit board that’s equivalent to a $6,000 hearing aid. So we understand that there’s costs associated, but it’s one of those investments that your later self is going to thank you for. And we totally understand that. And that’s what we’ve been trying to convey to the end user over the course of 3 years. So for me, it’s been a year and 3 months, but it’s been fun from a storytelling aspect because hearing is such a relatable topic. Everybody knows someone who suffers from hearing loss. But what if you couldn’t hear those whistling wings? What if you couldn’t get the direction of where a turkey is coming from? What if you couldn’t hear a spitting drum? I’d be devastated as well a lot of other folks.

All About Priorities

 But when I think back, I said, well, all the money I blew anyway on stuff that did not protect my hearing, that I no longer have in my possession.

Ramsey Russell: I know old duck hunters that can’t hear it thunder. The problem is whoever said that thing one time, that youth is wasted on young people. When you’re 25 and 30, being 50 or 60 years old seems a million years away. I mean, that’s forever. You got your whole life ahead of you.

Lucas Mashtare: And as a guy, you think you’re –

Ramsey Russell: As you start getting closer, it’s like, holy cow, I can’t hear that songbird sing, I can’t hear my watch go off, I can’t hear this thing, my ears are always ringing and it’s too late, you can’t take it back. There’s no surgery, there’s no pill, there’s no nothing. I think back and said, okay, had it existed, because these aren’t cheap, protecting your hearing is going to cost money at a nice shotgun level, a super nice shotgun level. But when I think back, I said, well, all the money I blew anyway on stuff that did not protect my hearing, that I no longer have in my possession. It really mean nothing. It’s all about priorities.

Lucas Mashtare: Yeah. The marketing guy and me, Ramsey, always brings it back to the old school MasterCard commercials. You think as a duck hunter what it costs you in a single season to get everything you want and to go on the pursuits that you want or the hunts, specific hunts you want. I mean, you add all that up and a lot of it’s perishable. You think about ammo is going to be gone, decoys you’re going to replace, you go through the gamut.

Ramsey Russell: Dogs are going to grow old and die. Decoys are going to go. You’re right about that. ATVs are going to be swapped off because they turned into dogs, it’s endless. But your hearing, those devices may wear out. Hey, look, I have dropped more than one hearing device in the water, thank God you all got such good customer service. But my hearing is forever, just like my eyesight is forever.

Lucas Mashtare: That’s right.

Ramsey Russell: And my health is forever. And that’s just something that we get one shot at it. I’m going to change gears to a final topic. I want to hear about this new program, 2% for conservation. That’s unbelievable.

Lucas Mashtare: So, 2% for conservation was a new initiative that we rolled out at the start of 2023. So what this allowed us to do is work hand in hand and we have been behind the scenes with a lot of these wildlife organizations or conservation organizations. So this was our way to take some of the dollars allocated and set the standard. So every time that a customer of ours vows to protect their ears, 2% goes back to the conservation group of their choosing. So basically, they go to the website, they buy a set of Alpha Shield waterfowl devices. At checkout, you’ll get a drop down menu, it’ll say, I want to give my 2% fixed purchase to Ducks Unlimited, Delta, National Wild Turkey Federation, Safari Club International or Turkeys for Tomorrow. And the list keeps growing, obviously, as we keep expanding that program and that offering. But basically what we do is we turn around, write a quarterly check to that conservation group that it’s allocated to based off of, obviously, codes. And when we do that, we send it back to that group and it goes strictly to conservation. And then the way we give back our 1% time, obviously, it’s a content opportunity, it’s a storytelling opportunity, but we roll up our sleeves, we do control burns, habitat restoration, we get our hands dirty alongside these groups and help tell their stories and we just offset those from year to year. So it’s been a fun project to roll out and it’s more meaningful. So at the same time, we’re setting the standards in 2 different disciplines, because as a pursuit based technology company, especially a hearing technology company in the space, it correlates with the wildlife that we want to hear so much. And it’s an important factor of what we do and it’s an important factor of why we’re here. So if you think about it, you got the Pittman Robertson dollars, you’ve got all these conservation groups doing the right thing. Obviously, hunters are conservationists at the end of the day. So that’s where we want it to all come twofold and tie back into those groups that we already work with.

Ramsey Russell: Lucas, thank you, thank you for the time, thank you for breaking away from your family. I miss 3 and 6 years old, I miss that age, I really miss that age, man, enjoy those times. Enjoy those times with those 2 kids, because I hate to tell you, they’re going to grow up real quick. They ain’t near as fun and interesting when they get a driver’s license, they are at 3 and 6, I promise you. But thank you so much for breaking away from your work and your family to talk to us today about Tetra Hearing.

Lucas Mashtare: Yeah. No, thank you, Ramsey. It’s always a pleasure talking to you, man.

Ramsey Russell: And folks, thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ve been talking to Lucas Mashtare. Pursuit Based Hearing Protection, folks, the good Lord gave you one set of ears, don’t lose them. See you next time.


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It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks