Good hearing protection improves year by year, but it still isn't cheaper. Hearing aid/protection technology is improving though. I learned a lot last week during an audiology visit for my mother, who had her hearing deficits mapped (audiogram) then corrected by programmable hearing aids, which can be adapted for hunters too. The top of the market in hearing aids was priced from 3 to 5K ... ... each. Yowza.
Hunters have a couple of special hearing needs when it comes to considering hearing protection: 1). they prefer to be able to hear normally all the time, 2). they probably have time to "put on" their hearing protection, but ...might not.
Good ear plugs, correctly inserted actually do a good job (-22dB or more) protecting hearing. They're cheap enough to buy in bulk and comfortable enough to wear for hours. We use these plus an earmuff at the range. For hunting field use though, we tried something new that worked well...
1. Sport Ear, Select-A-Fit 30 ($400/pairfrom Cabela's): continuous, in-ear, 22dB noise reduction that allows normal (or amplified) hearing, but limits loud ones. These are easier to don and wear than the Walker's Game Ears with foam tips I used 2 years ago. The Sport Ears cost more and I had to have them shipped to my son in the Lower-48, then picked them up during a planned visit. They aren't custom-fitted, but the selectable tips worked alright. My daughter and I wore them each day during a 5-day spring bear hunt. It always felt good to take them out, but at the range and in the field, they were comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time. The batteries are affordable. (Link: http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/te....form23&Go.x=0).
We also invested in some good electronic muffs after reading some other threads. The ProEars Stalker models fit us and our rifles well enough to wear in the field. Protection-wise, electronic ear muffs seem a good field option - if you can hack the bulk.
Other good threads on hearing protection:
From Gear forum, gogoalie on hearing protection: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ing+protection
From Shooting forum, Mort on ear muffs: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ing+protection
From Gear forum, CatchIt on hearing protection: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ing+protection
From Shooting forum, MNMauler on hearing protection and amplification: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ing+protection
The new Select-30 in the "MicroFit" series (http://www.sportear.com/) are $800/pair. I don't know how those differ from what Cabela's offers, but Cabela's version is still $400/pair.
Good luck this season.