Ramsey catches up with Boss Shotshells’ Brandon Cerecke, discussing the past season, Cerecke’s old school duck camp and habitat. They then get down to copper-plated business. What makes BOSS’s cast of characters unique? How does good old fashioned work bring about life purpose? Are materials and components going to be easier to get this year? Is the global supply chain mended? What’s BOSS’s top-selling load? How do 3/5 loads compare to straight up 4s? What’s Ramsey think of the little 1-ounce Stinger loads? What’s controlling the controllables mean to Cerecke, and why’s obsessively delivering real American value to duck hunters so important to him? Like perfectly patterned BOSS copper-plated shot, this episode covers the board, hitting hard where it matters.

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The Work-Life Balance

And I think it’s kind of secret of life, man, we’ve talked about this before too Brandon, it’s finding purpose in life besides just getting up and breathing.


Ramsey Russell: Welcome to Duck Season Somewhere on the phone today with today’s guest Brandon Cerecke, BOSS Shotshells. Brandon, how are you man?

Brandon Cerecke: Just like always working, hanging in and enjoying life man, that’s good.

Ramsey Russell: I think you know I’ve learned a lot about you in the last several years. Work is your happy place, isn’t it?

Brandon Cerecke: Yeah, I love it. I love my job. I love working. And I guess just it’s in the DNA man. My family comes from hard work in stock. And third generation family business kind of guy. And you grow up in a factory, that factory becomes an extension of your home. And here we are, turned 40 earlier in the week. Yeah, a couple of days ago turned 40. And my goal in life was to always make work optional by the time I was 40. Because I saw my dad do it and I thought man if I could do half of what that man was able to do in his lifetime, I’ll consider myself a successful guy. So I came up with that idea back when I was in high school. Well by the time my dad turned 40 I was still in middle school and I said I want to be like him and you blink and before you know it, you’re out of college and you blink again and you’re married, got kids. And well 40 got coming real quick. And well now that I’m here, it’s like. Well, I’m going to keep on working. I thought as a teenager that I’d be ready to retire when I was 40, but shoot, I don’t think I’ll retire when I’m 80 at this point.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve always wondered about that if you do what you love, why retire, what do you do when you retire? You go to the beach and wait to die.

Brandon Cerecke: Yeah. And that’s the thing that I worry about because I’ve got, I know some people in our community that are really successful guys and one of them well into his nineties, and I mean, you name it, the guys lived it and I think he probably was too much of a workaholic. And it causes strain on the family when that work-life balance gets upset. So what I’ve learned is at first I was going to retire at 40 but now it’s like, hey, let’s make work optional at 40. Back to the work-life balance. I mean you’ve got to be able to, when you’re raising small kids, you have to be able to put your work down. And I’ve been guilty of taking my work home and paying more attention to the cell phone than I do my children. And right around Christmas time it kind of hit me all at once and I look and I see, my kids are, Landon’s 11 and my daughter’s 13, it’s like my kids are over halfway raised. And what memories do I have and unfortunately, a lot of those memories involved me working on vacations and that kind of thing. So I try being more cognizant of the second half and we’re making some changes around, but that means I’m working twice as hard when I’m at work, so it’s all good, it’s fun.

Ramsey Russell: But you and I have talked about that before about the guilt associated with being an entrepreneur, being a business owner, working like a Hebrew slave because it’s what we have to do is what we love to do. And feeling like we don’t spend enough time with our children, and it’s funny you should say that because I feel that way, I feel like I spent as much time as humanly possible in a duck blind and hunting and camp and cooking and camping and doing things with my kids. But I also feel like them growing up as children, I worried that what they say, think of their dad thinking back those years is looking at the back of my head working on GetDucks.com or talking on the phone. There were times we didn’t go to camp, I didn’t get to camp till late because I was in a phone conference or had something, had to find a stop in place and I feel guilty about it. But at the same time I look at my children now that are grown. I mean they’re in their twenties, they’re in college, they’re working, they’re building businesses. And I take a small sense of satisfaction that maybe seeing their old man work like that and their mama because she’s the brains of the operation, she’s my better half in business too. That they developed a – I think a passion for finding something they love to do – finding something that will consume them and then pouring themselves into it. And I think it’s kind of secret of life, man, we’ve talked about this before too Brandon, it’s finding purpose in life besides just getting up and breathing.


I Started This Journey, I’ve Got to Continue

So a lot of it was just the unknowns, and the unknowns can be a fear, but it can also be a hell of a motivating factor to really kind of just knuckle down and do it. 


Brandon Cerecke: Well, that’s it right there and I think maybe it’s an excuse and I don’t, maybe it is, I don’t think it is. But if you didn’t have your wife and Children, you wouldn’t work nearly as hard as you do, doing what you do. That’s a motivating factor, right and maybe this goes back to the fifties. The old time saying was like a parent’s dream is to be able to raise a family and provide more for them than what they had for themselves. And I mean, I had a terrific childhood growing up and I was hoping to do half of what my dad did for me. And shoot man, I mean, he lost his health and wasn’t able to keep grinding as hard as I’ve been able to do. And you just kind of set goals. And it goes back to I had an amazing sixth grade teacher in middle school. I was always  really high anxiety, kind of a worry wart as a kid and moving to a new school scared the hell out of me and actually ruined the summer vacation I had between 5th and 6th grade because I was worried about this new school I was going to go to. And I was worried about the teacher I was going to get. And I had this teacher Mr. Allen and he had to set goals. And like, you think like setting goals, what’s that mean? It’s kind of a dumb thing, like, I’m going to do this tomorrow. Well, he’s the one that kind of enlightened me to the fact that like there’s a bunch of things I’ve learned along the way, but you always got to be looking ahead. And just because you set a goal doesn’t mean you stop halfway to that goal, you’re working on your setting two more or three more, just keep on moving up. And that’s when my original goal back when I was a teenagers say, hey, I’m going to retire when I’m 40. And then when I got to be about 35, I said, I think I’m just going to make work optional when I’m 40 and you just keep on, you keep on moving forward. But you got to do it because you love it and you got to do it because you want to share the rewards with the people close to you. And like I said, if I didn’t have my wife and two kids, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, absolutely not.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I feel like a lot of times in life, I’m walking towards the horizon that’s the goal. I got to get to the horizon. But once I’m there, there’s a horizon way the hell off in the distance I got to get to. I started this journey, I’ve got to continue.

Brandon Cerecke: Well, that horizon line is like a ruler and it’s only so long and the closer you walk to the end of it, the faster it goes by. And that I used to look at life is like always chasing the next thing, but now you got to get to a point where you look. The look what you got the time in front of you versus the time you have behind you. As you get closer to the end of that line, you enjoy everything a little bit more.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right. I agree with that. But I find that I got more on my plate now than I did 20 years ago when I started GetDucks.com. I’ve got way more on my plate than I ever dreamed of.

Brandon Cerecke: Well you get you become a victim of your own damn circumstances that you created.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Do you ever feel like sometimes, when I started this business I feel like I was kind of climbing this hill and pushing this big snowball kind of and it was kind of building and building and growing and I was pushing and pushing behind it, trying to get it up to the top. And now I feel like I’m running for dear life sometimes with that snowball coming behind me. 

Brandon Cerecke: Oh, me?

Ramsey Russell: That’s how I feel sometimes. I’m like godly man, this thing is, I don’t know if I’m building or running, it’s just that takes a life of its own.

Brandon Cerecke: That might be an amazing thing man. Us Michiganders are pretty blue collar and hard nose. And we look at that as an opportunity, we don’t worry about it, we don’t run from it, we’re not, we don’t care.

Ramsey Russell: I’m not running, I’m just saying, I’m not scared. I’m just saying, I feel like I built this big old snowball and now it’s a little, it’s sometimes it takes canoe.

Brandon Cerecke: You’re right because it does exist. And that was the thing that I realized that I must either be really stubborn or can just suppress that shit because I haven’t sweated in my sheets at night or woken up with a cold sweat. And I think going on probably about two months now and it used to be when BOSS started, it was probably like two or three night a week event then there for a while, it was every night like soaked. My wife said “What in the hell is wrong with you? What’s going on?” And to me like Monday through Friday at the shop, I didn’t feel like I was stressed or anything, but apparently it comes out at night when you’re sleeping. So a lot of it was just the unknowns, and the unknowns can be a fear, but it can also be a hell of a motivating factor to really kind of just knuckle down and do it. And maybe that’s what Lee, Zack and the rest of the guys and I were doing in the early days and even as recently as like a year ago, this time. Just kind of working. But now we know the path forward, we know the brand is solid, we know where we’re going. We know a lot about the industry. We know even more about our consumers and now it’s just to the point we’re having fun. I mean it’s just fun now.


Sink or Swim

I just, I think that’s the American dream working for yourself and overcoming those obstacles, and overcoming those challenges, is it makes us better people and it makes our life more fulfilling.


Ramsey Russell: We started off talking about work. And you all know what’s wrong with America, too many people are scared to work. I mean work, just get in there and face the unknown and have those night sweats. I mean, I told somebody one time, let me tell you when you’re all in and I did not know this and could not articulate this until about 15 years ago when I quit a stable financial job, not financial job, government job and very stable and very assured and it didn’t matter what the stock market or the economy was doing that paycheck came in every two weeks and we push the chips in and wanted to go into this business full time and I acted and executed it with absolute confidence. But one night I woke up at 2 o’clock in the morning, was watching the ceiling fan going, my kids were babies and they were across the house, sound asleep, my wife was sleeping next to me. And I got up and went and puked in the toilet and that’s when I knew buddy, you’re all in, it’s like your daddy throws you off a boat in a deep lake, you swim.

Brandon Cerecke: That hit me in May of 2020. May of ’20. I went for about three weeks where I couldn’t take a deep breath and I couldn’t catch my breath. I thought I was dying. Not really. I mean no, but like I remember being able to stand the shower and the only time I could be able to get two or three deep breaths throughout the whole day was when I was showering after work. And just like try when you’re only able to take shallow breaths halfway. And I don’t know if that was like panic or anxiety or whatever the hell it was but it happened. And that was when all the night sweats are going like crazy and all that ship. But we work past it. And I was having just as much fun back then as I am now, it’s just different. I guess it’s just different. I always tell people if anybody feels like what they’re doing as a job, they need to quit doing that and find something that rewards their efforts instead of feeling like you’re putting more into something than what’s given back to you.

Ramsey Russell: Something to invest in yourself. And I think that’s the American dream Brandon, you know it? And if I learned the hard way that if your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.

Brandon Cerecke: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: If you don’t feel sometimes like you’ve got an elephant sitting on your chest, you ain’t being challenged, that’s just, and that’s how I am. And I’ve never had a competitive bone in my body, I got hurt, blah. I wasn’t athletic at all. My teen years, so I just, I kind of fell out of the whole team sports scene that just doesn’t appeal to me at all, nothing. When I got competitive is when I started duck hunting when I started getting into business for myself that elicited some competitive response. You know what I’m saying? I’ve always lived under the assumption that rust never sleeps. Well, I’m sleeping, rust’s out there making shit rust, I can’t sleep. And it mode competition, it doesn’t paralyze me like it used to, it initiates this response. Rust doesn’t sleep so I can’t either.

Brandon Cerecke: That’s right.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve got to claw my way and just keep on going and that in and of itself gives my life a sense of purpose.

Brandon Cerecke: Well, a lot of people use fear as a motivating factor of I love competition. I don’t care if you want to race wheelbarrows. I want to win.

Ramsey Russell: Oh boy, that’s a note to self challenge Brandon to wheelbarrow racing next time I’m in Michigan. You know Brandon, Forrest has gotten out of college and he started a landscape business and it’s really doing good man and I’m taking a tremendous amount of satisfaction in watching him hit little obstacles. You know what I’m saying? Having to think things through, having to think, and scale, and build. I can tell that he’s starting to grapple with those things that we all, we business owners wrestle with the time to time. But it makes me very proud to look back and see him doing that. I just, I think that’s the American dream working for yourself and overcoming those obstacles, and overcoming those challenges, is it makes us better people and it makes our life more fulfilling.

Brandon Cerecke: It’s not a bad thing either to watch your kids make mistakes because that’s how they learn. There are kids that have parents that are helicopter parents and you also have the ones that are always carrying the safety net under them. And I raised my kids a little differently. Oh shoot, I can’t. Everywhere we go it seems like when I bring land along now he’s 11 and he can fit in right with the adults and the big kids, and everybody in between and they say, man, he’s just he acts like he’s 27 years old.

Ramsey Russell: He does.

Brandon Cerecke: Well, that’s because you give him enough rope that not to say they’re going to hang themselves with, but you’re going to put them in positions or let them put themselves into positions that do have negative consequences that they’re going to learn, the margin for error and some things in life is rather small and best to make those mistakes when the outcome is not going to be severe for your failures. So it’s something that you can control and that’s how you build their character up. And I’m 11 years into this and I could be way wrong, but for right now I think it’s working.

Ramsey Russell: It is. And my best life lessons in life and business have been failures or adversity, getting kicked in the shins, things not going as planned and us having to react, no to self, no to anybody listening. Going through Dallas Airport to Mexico, it’s a great connection except for the fact when it gets that big winter weather, Dallas Airport turns to ice and planes don’t fly. And so last week we were scrambling. I mean we were busy. We had a lot of clients stranded or delayed or not going somewhere. But it’s like on the one hand, it’s a sense of busy and urgency, but on the other hand, it’s what we do and it’s what we’re good at, it makes us better.

Brandon Cerecke: It’s life’s reminder of just bringing you back into reality that as much control as you think you may have over a certain thing, there’s always someone or something that’s got more of it. Winning being one of them. You can have the best laid plans, but you can never account for every single variable. That’s why people call them control freaks or narcissists, right? That’s the problem they want to control every aspect and they’ll say that something is wrong with the weatherman or the weather that brought that snow or ice, that’s the wrong way to look at life.

Ramsey Russell: And there is a lot to be said for making your own look, there are things and events that we can’t change, but there are things that we can change through hard work and dedication or creative thinking or initiative or whatever you want to call it. We make our own luck and so much in life and work. The harder you work, the luckier you get. That’s what the point is. I’m trying to make that old adage right there. But here’s the question, what made me think of Forrest is, I see that Forrest is scaling out this landscape business, it’s a labor intensive business, and he is struggling at times with the same thing I hear throughout the United States is that finding good help is hard power to do. And he’s really I think one of the most stressful parts of his business right now is finding good, reliable help. And you seem to have got that figured out. I mean, you’ve got a lot of really good key people. You mentioned Zack, you mentioned Lee Chose, Dirk, the Tiger King Tattoo artist. I mean, you’ve got a really good bunch of helpers there, people admitted and see the mission and share your philosophy.


Are Supply Chain Shortages Still Affecting BOSS Shotshells?


Brandon Cerecke: A lot of it is, I’ve never wanted to take myself too seriously. So I really enjoy being around people. And some of the people I know they’re like, Brandon, how do you find all these people, this cast of characters as diverse as what we’ve got or Dirk calls us a bunch of pirates on a ship. And it’s just like, I guess what a lot of it is, I’m not a judgmental person at all. And I look at people is all being the same regardless of what they look like or how they talk or whatever. And some people can be real intimidating looking creatures and they turn out to be your best friends. So, I look for the good in people. So there’s one redeeming quality about someone I’m going to build upon that and say, hey, you’re one of us. And the other thing too, there is luck to it. But small town people know people and you just make it work like, there for a while, last year over half of our people at BOSS, we’re part time people. Bartenders or servers or house cleaners or you name it and they could give us a day or two here a couple hours there and man, we take it. And it got to be that some of the people turned into full time, others still are part time. But he’s got to be willing to work with people. And the frustrating part like where Forrest is probably at, he’s got goals set. He knows where he wants to go. And his problem, he’s working with is the labor issue is standing in the way of achieving those goals. So he’s got to look for another way around it. And I’m not going to say lower your goals. But you can always put in a temporary plan to say, you know what if this best I can do, this is the best I can do. Like what we got with BOSS. I want to be able to make enough shotgun shells to sell to everyone. And for from 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, we’ve never been able to make enough because of supply chain shortages or production capacity issues or you name it, we’ve been there. And where we’re at now is not to say that I’m dealing with it, but we can only get so many holes we only get so much powder. That’s the reality of the situation. I’m not sticking my head in the sand saying, well, we’re only going to produce this many. We’re buying more equipment. We’re adding capacity everywhere you can think of because we know that this is a short term problem. It’s not the long term issue. And we’re not going to mail it in and say, well, let’s have everyone work fewer hours or that. We’re going to have fun in the process and figure out a way to deal with the issue we got at the moment and make it work towards our benefit in the long run. That’s where we’re at. That’s where Forrest needs to be or not say it needs to be, looked at it that way.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what we got to meet with down at Dallas Safari Club. Got to meet with of course hanging out with Zack and Lee, and Dirk’s an interesting character. Dirk is an extremely interesting character. And hearing him describe, y’all as a cast of pirates is that’s pretty spot on because y’all are uniquely individual. 

Brandon Cerecke: He’s such a fun dude. And, like I’ve known Dirk now 10 years and I was in my early 30s, still full of piss and vinegar, and Dirk was 40 when I met him. And now we’re kind of moving through that next phase where Dirk’s in his 50s, but he’s kind of got an old soul about him. And he went from kind of started off as this crass, kind of a pain in the ass looking guy, like, one way of seeing the world, not really, but now where Dirk said is he’s almost got like this grandpa type figure with a really unique perspective on life. And man, he’s just a great guy to be around. And damn near that would been the last time you talked to him down there at Dallas because he wasn’t feeling, well come to find out the guy was having heart attacks down in Texas. 

Ramsey Russell: What?

Brandon Cerecke: Yeah, he came back with all this chest pain for the entire week. He was down in Texas. So Dirk’s already had two heart attacks prior to going to Texas. He had a stroke last year. And he was having heart attacks the whole time down at Dallas Safari. Last week, 2 weeks ago, tomorrow morning, we’re out ice fishing, Saturday afternoon, Dirt calls, he’s like I’m in the hospital, and Zack and I was like, what in the hell is going on? He says four o’clock this morning. I woke up and I was having what I felt was a heart attack. And it wasn’t until he got to the hospital during a full blown heart attack. So they end up finding a damn blockage in his widow maker, 80% plugged. And they went in and did a stint, got him all patched up and by Sunday afternoon he was at home. So when he came back from Dallas Safari he was down and out that whole week. We gave him the whole week off to recover. He came back to work for a week and then had that heart attack on Saturday.

Ramsey Russell: When were down there, I remember him complaining, but he was saying, I think I got Covid, I think I got that cold version of Covid. And we’re all- I was busting his chops – but don’t be breathing on me, man. But that makes perfect sense.

Brandon Cerecke: Yeah. There was something with that. I was talking about that Covid getting those vaccines and some we’re getting that inflamed heart deal.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Brandon Cerecke: That’s what he had going on there at first. So then he went home, rested for that week, went home, and then had that episode two weeks later, almost two weeks to the day of that Dallas Safari when you guys did the podcast down there.

Ramsey Russell: Well, he’s doing good now?

Brandon Cerecke: He’s back at it. He and I spent Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, staying in all the damn wood for the ceiling of the new building. And he’s still doing it. It’s going to take us about, he thinks about three weeks to stain all the wood, but we’ll get there.


Building Duck Habitat on Private Property

So we matted them down and the ducks never showed up all year.


Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Changing the subject, I’m going to change the subject completely. Tell me last time we met, you were doing a lot of habitat work out there. It’s your property. And how did that turn out? And how was your duck season?

Brandon Cerecke: Our duck season absolutely sucked. Because the birds didn’t show up, the weather was too warm. Birds didn’t show up and kill our season closed. So what was really cool is we nested, out of our 50 nesting tubes, we put up we nested three clutches of ducks, ducklings. And the habitat that we have, we’re working on getting rid of all the canary grass. And canary grass from what I understand is one of the worst things for ducks to nest in because it grows so tight and thick that the ducklings can’t get through it and have any covers, like sitting ducks, so to speak, for raccoons and coyotes and whatever goes out in the marsh. So we successfully nested three clutches of ducklings out of the 15 assets with 6% success rate and a “terrible habitat”, so to speak. So that was good in the spring. We drain the water off the marsh and we’re planning on seeding it, but we ended up having two growths of smart weeds, and millets, and nuts edges, and all kinds of food. I mean it looked like manna from heaven. We flew it, thrown out there a couple of times and thought, man, this going to be insane. So we matted down some kill holes, which we can do because we did not plan it. It’s natural vegetation, what the hell you want? So we matted them down and the ducks never showed up all year. I had people come up from all over the country, buddies of mine come on up, they’re going to be here on the calendar and they never showed up. I still had fun. But what was really cool is when the birds finally showed up about December 30, every single spot that we manicured for those birds to be in they were there.

Ramsey Russell: Probably imprinted.

Brandon Cerecke: Big time. So we know it’s not, this a long play. Like what we’re doing is going to reap its rewards, 3, 5, 10 years on down. But we’re having fun out there man, Mike Clements, he’s a guy you got to get to know, he’s an amazing friend of mine and just a super smart dude who’s kind of taking point on everything we’re doing out there. And he’s kind of one of those guys that don’t tell him that he can’t do something. Because he’s going to do it and you rub your nose in it when he’s right. I mean one of the smartest guys I think I have ever met and just a great guy. But yeah, he’s doing good.

Ramsey Russell: Tell me about your duck camp. I heard a lot about that because I heard a lot about that. 

Brandon Cerecke: The army tent, you didn’t get to see it. But we ran short on time with making shotgun shells. I was going to try to put a pole barn out there that we can restore stuff and the camp out and that didn’t happen. End of August comes and we decided to order a military surplus tent, which I want to say it’s mesh.

Ramsey Russell: Oh my god. Kind of like a mesh tent something.

Brandon Cerecke: We pounded a point in the ground, run a well off a generator. We got a black stone flat top that Dirk did all of our food work on and made the food for us. We stacked up a couple plastic IBC totes and made a shower. Got a cell phone, we hook up the phone to the big screen TV so we can watch all the football games. We made bunk. And one time we had 11 guys sleeping in this damn thing, wood stove, the whole bed. It was a good time.

Ramsey Russell: That sounds great, hell man, that’s like my granddad would have done it. That just sounds like a fun day out. Just like a fun weekend at camp.

Brandon Cerecke: The coldest that we hunted was down in like the mid twenties at night and were able to keep it at about 60 inside that tent with no insulation or nothing, just pouring the coals to that wood stove. It was a good time. But what we did was we hunted every single weekend of the year just to say we did it. So on Fridays I picked my son up from school, we shoot out to the marsh, grab dinner and then hunt Saturday and then Sunday morning and then come back in the afternoon. So it was absolutely awesome. But like I said, I think we might have only killed less than 100 ducks out there all year.

Ramsey Russell: Who’s the camp cook?

Brandon Cerecke: Dirk.

Ramsey Russell: Oh he is. I did not know that.

Brandon Cerecke: Yep. He’s hop sing. Oh, you name. He made fried rice. He would make homemade fried doughnuts out there. He would do beef skewers. You name it. I mean it was a different menu, every cook steaks that he had breakfast for us. And that’s the thing that we joke about. He does this ship called French pancakes. So he makes a pancake and then he melts a stick of butter and a coffee cup and that’s what you pour on top of your pancake before the syrup, so the syrup slides around on top of the pancake and doesn’t soak in. And when he had that damn heart attack I said,
“Dirk these French pancakes just ate your ass.” And he said, “Yeah, I know that’s what I get for being German, the French did it to me.”


Building a BOSS Shotshell Empire with a Limited Supply Chain

And last year at this time, the limiting factor for our production was gunpowder. 


Ramsey Russell: Yeah, hilarious. You sent me some pictures. Tell everybody what’s going on at your ball shop. It looks like y’all are building an empire.

Brandon Cerecke: Yeah, a couple and not an empire. It feels like it some days. But now we bought, maybe April, I bought an old factory that used to make sand blasters about three miles away from the main building. And we picked it up for a good deal and we’ve been slowly chipping away at refurbishing this 50 year old factory. Put new siding on. Then we decided figured out we had to fix the roof and put a whole new roof on it. And now we’re building the offices out how to build a loading dock because the loading dock we had was garbage and moved into a new location and we’re just getting set up and put a new coat of paint on everything, new lights. So we’re going to go from about 2000 square feet of manufacturing space to about 18,000. So everything is going to move over to the new building. It’s still a pretty small shot, but the shot making and plating is staying in Bridgman because we’ve got all the permits for the discharge with all the waste that comes from electroplating. Which ain’t that much, but still it’s a pain in the past, you got to get all that stuff approved. So that’s going to stay in Bridgman shot will come over and then everything’s going to be done in Stevensville here, it’s the next town over.

Ramsey Russell: Wow, when do you think it will be your new shop, you’ll be moved in and everything set?

Brandon Cerecke: Well, I guess it was right before Dallas Safari, Lee was in town and he kind of looked around, he’s like, when are you going to be done with this? I said, I want to have people in here in March, and he kind of looked at me like, yeah, right. So I said, you know what Zack, I’m going to prove Lee wrong. So I’ve been, we’ve been pouring the coals in this damn place and I hope to have phones ringing in the new building sometime in the month of March. It’s going to take a while for all the manufacturing to move over. But the main thing is to get the customer service and get Zack and Scott. We hired a CEO, I know if you knew that or not get Zack out here and Chelsea and all the front office people need to be in the new building in the month of March.

Ramsey Russell: Wow. A lot going on at BOSS Shotshells. Brandon the last time we talked last year, last May I believe, we talked a lot about the supply chain issues, the materials shortages. And I want to revisit that because number one, you’re talking about the ducks didn’t show up till late. I don’t just live in Mississippi I travel around and I talked to duck hunters all day every day and that is a common thing, everybody nationwide. People had good hunts and yada yada, but the ducks really were slow migrating. It seems like. I mean, hello, 83 degrees in Jackson, Mississippi on New Year’s Day. It was record breaking temperature and that’s warm for Mississippi in January.

Brandon Cerecke: And up here my, I didn’t get to go out and shoot ducks. We got a two day season in Michigan. My son got to go because my wife’s family was in town. I was going to be good and not hunt those two days, those were really only two days that any killing got done out there at the duck property, but it was in the twenties during that time.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Brandon Cerecke: So there’s a 65° swing over 600 miles. It’s crazy.

Ramsey Russell: It’s crazy. But shows open Dallas Safari Club SCI. And man, I am on the phone all day every day with duck hunters ready to go ready to travel, ready to do something and something that keeps coming up. It shows which were off. I mean I almost didn’t even want to go to the convention thinking it was going to be a ghost town, but it was off the chain. It was just a very busy event. But I kept hearing throughout every day, throughout the shows, people making comments like, yeah, if you can get the ammo, yeah, I’d go snow goose hunting. If I could get the ammo, there’s a big dearth of ammo with duck hunting ammo in the country and it’s going to reach around the world in time is what’s going to happen.

Brandon Cerecke: Well, it is global. And last year at this time, the limiting factor for our production was gunpowder. And we might have touched on it last year. But where it all stemmed from was obviously Covid started a rush for everyone to go buy guns because they thought the world was ending. And then Biden won and thought that the Second Amendment was going to get vaporized. So it was between seven and nine million, I believe it was seven million new first time gun owners in 2020. And a lot of those guys went to the store and bought black rifles or handguns. They weren’t buying Benelli shotguns getting a duck hunt. I mean there probably were some, but a majority of it was all pistol rifles. So you have that first blip in early 20 where everyone buys up ammo on the shelf because that’s what happens when there are panics. Then you get the new gun buyers that consumed all of the pistol rifle ammo in the nation. So our shotgun powders were pretty darn good in 2020 because there was an adequate stock of that stuff. Well, after all of the pistol powder got depleted, the orders went into the propellant factories here in the United States to get more pistol powder. So that consumed all of the capacity that otherwise would have been for a broad mix of shot gun powder and pistol powder. So that’s where 2020 got us with powder shortages. Well that hasn’t gotten much better and to compound things, what’s going on in Europe now and the rest of the country is metal. The brass that’s actually steel, that’s plated with brass or nickel or copper, whatever you buy is in long continuous strips and in Europe, there is a world and European and worldwide shortage of that metal. So this year we’ve got powder still tight and holes are going to be tight, which is why went down to shorter brass because you can make more shells with shorter brass. So that’s why we’re doing shorter brass to get more holes made. And we even tried to find, I got a buddy that owns a metal stamping operation. Pretty big operation. I said, “Hey, here’s what my vendor in Italy needs. Can you help us out?” He says, “Unavailable can’t get it worldwide shortage.” So you’re dealing with that end of 2021, there was polymer shortages, couldn’t get the plastic to make the plastic for the hulls and wads. So it just keeps on going from one thing to the next to the next. So this year is going to be more of the same as last year. And I’m hoping that things kind of calmed down after midterms. Covid’s pretty much done. I think the news says Covid is done. And now we’re going to have the elections come up and things are going to make some changes and hopefully it levels out. But I don’t see this year being any different than last year. Maybe a little bit worse actually. But it is what it is, man. There’s only so much you can do like I said.

Ramsey Russell: How are you coping with the perceived shortage? Because I think last year you said, point blank, you said, hey, I’m not trying to sell fear. But if you want some shotgun shells for next duck season, you probably need to go ahead and order them. I hung up with you and ordered them. I hung up and send in my order right then in May and they sit out in my garage collecting dust until September but my God had shells to get me through the season and a lot of people did not.

Brandon Cerecke: And there’s always that guy and then they start the conspiracy theories and all this and that we’re doing this, doing that. And ammunition companies, it’s not like we’re probably one of the most transparent. I think at times too transparent companies in the industry where we open ourselves up to a lot of bullshit and abuse from people thinking that we’re lying to them because we’re telling the truth as it is. But let’s just hope that guys didn’t do much killing this year so they can still use their shells next year. All joking aside, yes, we kind of said, this going to go through 2021, 2022 we’re starting 22 here and I’m going to stick to it that I think that things will probably normalize maybe early part of next year and that’s where Lee was in town yesterday said,
“Brandon, how much longer you think this going to go on?” And I said, “Optimistically next year, this time we should be having a different set of discussions. But for the rest of ‘22, man, it’s going to be more of the same.”

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. So anybody listening, No fear being sold here, but it might behoove you to start looking for next year’s ammo now. Getting in line, getting on the mailing list, making some pre orders and things of that nature.

Brandon Cerecke: And last year we ran like hell and built a good slug of inventory on top of keeping pace with the demand for the guys that wanted to get in front of it. But starting in the last week of September is when things went haywire and it was day to day. All of our, a majority of our in stock stuff was bought out and we would run our lines in the morning and while we set the production schedule, see here’s what we would do. We would run the production schedule for the day and then put up what we’re going to produce on a Monday at morning, 10am. So we start production at six and by 10am when orders would open up, the orders to get printed off and people would pull our order guys to pull from the inventory, what we had already made and then it would go out that day. Well, that wasn’t good enough and people were mad that we’re not sharing what we’re making so that we posted for the week and then everyone would jump online and order at 10 am. They know what, hey, I want to three, quarter five or three and three fives or whatever it is, they see the schedule, jump on and order it. And even then there are still people that get pissed at us because they think we’re not making enough. We’re doing our best.

Ramsey Russell: If you ever figure out how to keep everybody happy, I want to know the secret.


First Impressions are Everything

It’s a growing business and you’ve got one chance to make an impression, right?


Brandon Cerecke: Yeah right. Well, the thing is it’s that 1% of the people that get mad at you that really can ruin your day. And Dirk will tell you, I told him 10 years ago, I still believe it today, I don’t come to work to get in a bad mood if I’m not going to have fun doing what I’m doing, I’m not going to do anymore. So you just got to channel though that 1% of the crowd out and just focus on the 99%.

Ramsey Russell: You talked about BOSS being transparent, you talked about people complaining, it’s got a lot to do with y’all connectivity to direct connectivity to the market and a lot to do with your social media presence. I mean what a huge resource. I’m on there every day that I’m on social media, I’m reading the BOSS threads and I mean there’s a lot to learn is a lot of questions golly, you got a question at all in the world about BOSS Shotshells, just go hit the search feature and get all kinds of input. But it is about transparency. But it is and I’m kind of sort of with you because I put myself out there and if you put yourself out there, you got it, you got people are going to come from out of the woodwork but you got to be out there. That’s what separates you from somebody at some big corporation type business is the fact that you’re out there interacting. I mean, you comment directly, Brandon.

Brandon Cerecke: It’s a growing business and you’ve got one chance to make an impression, right? So while some people say use the search function, this has been talked about for three or four years, that is a new customer’s first interaction with our brand. Our brand is represented by all of the people that are on that fan page and social media. And I would say we probably have the best group of customers in the industry bar. None because they understand what BOSS is all about. So even though we’ve been answering questions, what choke to shoot for going on five seasons now? That is that guy’s first question and you don’t want the guy to say, oh well you should have, you should have talked to BOSS five years ago when they answer all the questions. You get one chance to make that impression and there are a million duck hunters out there and we don’t even have anywhere near a dent in that industry. So every single day we’re getting more and more people coming to the brand, which is why we’re adding more people to help keep up with that demand. And that’s its fun and it’s a challenge and it’s so much fun to be able to see the new faces that come in the building are part of the team, enjoy what they’re doing. That’s my biggest reward. I think more than anything else. I love making people happy. That is what drives me.


Different Gauges for Different Goals

The way guns are made nowadays, it’s not, it’s with interchangeable chokes, guns behave differently than they used to.


Ramsey Russell: And you’re right about the people that come onto that web page, your fans, your, your consumers, and your diehard loyals. I mean because the thing about it is that everybody’s got you and I go, we both pick a 28 gauge, we both pick a 12 gauge, whatever all things equal, we go sit in a boat or a blind side beside, chances are you’re going to be shooting a different load in a different choke and a different, something different than I am because it’s almost individual. I’ll give you an example a lot of people are buying after market chokes man. One thing BOSS shooting, BOSS Shot Shells did for me is it brought me all the way back into factory. I’m a factory choke guy. And I differ from a lot of people that shoot that load and that I really don’t want a super tight pattern. I keep a selection of chokes because I’m hunting different conditions or different weather, different variables, something, I may want to tighten up a little bit or open up a little bit, but man that modified choke, which is a tad open. That’s my go-to choke, no matter what I’m shooting. I always going to start with a modified choke and a lot of times, I’m not going to take it out.

Brandon Cerecke: The way guns are made nowadays, it’s not, it’s with interchangeable chokes, guns behave differently than they used to. Like you take an old model 12 and shoot a modified model 12 and that thing’s going to shoot like a tight full on gun from today. It just does. So what we’ve been able to account is start that dialogue and guys are actually getting out there shooting paper. They’re being consumers, are using our shotgun shells practicing or becoming proficient with choke combos. They’re buying different chokes from the aftermarket. They’re trying the chokes that come with a gun. And what they’re doing is they’re extending their season, whether it’s in the summer time, winter time, early fall, they’re getting engaged and it’s creating a more loyal following, not only for BOSS but for habitat hunting conservation, you name it because really this all boil what this boils down to more than anything with BOSS. It started with conservation and we have not come off of that. Nor will we ever because that is what the brand is all about.

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely. What is you all’s number one best selling load? If one shell, what is the number one?

Brandon Cerecke: I think the three inch 12 gauge. 3-5 took over the two and three, quarter five last year.

Ramsey Russell: Unbelievable. 

Brandon Cerecke: So we’re going back to the drawing board this year. We’re going to do some high speed photography and try to capture shot strings throughout the entire distance that shell is shot. It’s going to be kind of a big undertaking, but we’re going to do it. We’re going to figure out why in the hell this 3-5 is what it is. And I’ve always thought my theory is that it pattern’s tighter due to a drafting effect with a larger pellet and the smaller pellet tucking in behind it in mass. Okay, because it patterns noticeably tighter than a number four, which is the equivalent pellet count of that 3-5 mix. Okay, so it’s either that or it’s the exact opposite that these pellets are stringing out longer and it’s giving a little bit more handicapped for the shooter that maybe isn’t dialed in on his game. So it’s one polar end opposite or the other or the difference is no different than before and it’s just something people like. So there’s 3 paths were chasing and there’s also some other things that we’re going to be developing and proving it out and lee says, well, Brandon, I want you to look at doing this and I go to it and say we will do, it will turn over every rock. But if it doesn’t provide clear value, performance wise or mathematical data that supports what we want to do. We’re not going to do it and it’s awesome because leaves always the one day one from BOSS starting and him being the guru and brains behind the marketing genius of what became BOSS, he’d say, I’m not going to get behind a product that doesn’t deliver value to the consumer. So we both use that same train of thought not against each other, but when we’re flushing ideas out as to what’s going to work for BOSS, it all goes down to the consumer.

Ramsey Russell: You know what? I’ve shot a lot of BOSS Shotshells. I still love the Shorty fives, but this was a this was a real interesting year for me personally in terms of BOSS shot shells, product lines, I started off with the Shorty five ounce and a quarter and loved them. Shot everything. Shot crane, shot duck, shot teal, shot everything with them. And somehow or other, I started off with three inch forward just because that’s what I got one time. But somehow or other that four has become my universal favorite, whether it’s three inch or two and three quarter inch and I will say this, I’ve got to say this. I was real. Now I like a two and three quarter inch shell that I don’t need, the three inch, I don’t need the bigger, I’m not stuck on that still, I get the conversion, I’m not stuck on the steel age anymore, like I was but I just got to say those stinger loads, I took your word for it ounce and an eighth. Come on man. And now we’re shooting that down in Argentina every lodging he’s got an ounce of shot. And I’m thinking well I just tried and I got to tell you the story. So I went out the first day with them, the first hunt and it was windy and I was laying down, it was funny angles and come up with any excuse to come to and I didn’t shoot worth of shit. But I didn’t freak out the next morning I took that same sack of shells and I tightened up my choke. I said, I think I’m going to tighten up to an improved mod instead of that mod and I’m not going to lie to you, I put on a shooting clinic. Those two old men hunt women are like holy shit, I’m like yeah that’s what I was thinking when they wind up and died 40 yards on retreat.

Brandon Cerecke: That was with the stingers.

Ramsey Russell: That was with those little stingers. I became a huge fan of that.

Brandon Cerecke: So two thoughts where you’re at with the number four is the same thing that some of the honker hunters. There’s a group of Diehard honker killers up an hour or so from us and they were BB triple B steel guys and then they started with two, threes, three, fives, fours fives and then they ended up two years ago, three years ago they settled on numbers 4, 12 gauge and then two seasons back, they switched to 20 gauge fours and then last year they made the jump to 28 gauge. And me personally I was two and 3 quarter numbers 5 12 Gauge guy. And then last year at our duck property I was shooting 28 gauge 4s and that’s right. I kind of settled in on. But then this year I shot 28 gauge three fives at everything and I mean it’s they’re crazy but I had to switch to five when I was trying to shoot some ducks for attacks.

Ramsey Russell: I have not tried the 35 load and that’s what I started off down that rabbit whole chasing a minute ago was I cannot get my mind wrapped around a duplex load. And here I’m a simple man, I’m not smart like you are Brandon but here’s what I can’t understand. I’ve got this big old numbers three B.B and these little old bitty numbers five and I’m thinking I pulled the trigger just the size, the weight, the wind drag whatever they are not flying at the same speed.

Brandon Cerecke: Well that’s what you would think too and I believe you. But whenever we would shoot paper and I’m telling you I would hand build these things off the production line. I would weigh the powder charges hand way the shot, put him in the press, and then run them out. So we would know that they’re made identical and consistently the 3 5 always pattern’s tighter than the numbers four. So that’s what we’re going to go back and verify it. Anyway, you’re talking about sting stinger. Let me just real quick on Stinger. Stinger came about because the powder shortages, we could, were getting buying whatever we could get our hands on with powder and that stinger powder burns really hot and really clean, but you can only put so much payload on top of it. So no one shortages being what they were, we developed this product line that filled the kind of a niche for young kids to shoot. So Landon shoots a Benelli 12 gauge stingers. We got old guys that will shoot up lined with old guns that still want to shoot a 12 gauge. They shoot stingers. I had people shoot stingers. They want to shoot 12 gauge out of my duck property because they’re quieter and they’re hot little loads. So you never miss that extra quarter ounce of shot. You don’t miss the recoil, you don’t miss the noise. They’re insanely good.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I love them. And the bulk of my order this year for ducks will be the stinger load in 12 days.

Brandon Cerecke: I heard that you’re in the 28 gauge shooting now.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I’m going to tell you. Yeah, I’m still getting used to that lighter little gun. But I love it and I took it out during teal season and I was shooting two and three quarter inch fours. And with a modified choke and I was like, wow. I mean I loved it. And I was down in Louisiana and one of my buddies, Damon, a neighbor gave me, he said, man, hey try these sevens and handed me a handful of two and three quarter inch sevens now for teal season. That’s the money right there. That is the absolute smoking up money right there is those sevens. 

Brandon Cerecke: Well. Yeah, you got to talk to what? Because what loves shooting them sevens? I think Lee was even shooting eights with 28 gauges this year down there and near Kansas City.

Ramsey Russell: Tight timber and holes and stuff. Heck yeah, man. I mean, I grew up back in the old lead days. I grew up shooting a 20 gauge with 7.5 just whenever you shoot rabbits and squirrels or quail. Anything else I mean it still works great, one of my outfitters down in Mexico where they still shoot lead. They’re starting to experience the initial ammo kind of shortage and he’s worried about getting sick cause I’m like dude you’re shooting till and shelters go by the dove loads that your clients or shoot a lot better shooting at that 7.5 than the sixes anyway. But anyway I got big into 28 gauge and did not try to 3-5 but I heard so much about it but I just stuck with my fours and now I did the, when I did resupply I went, I ended up liking that 28 gauge so much ammo got depleted pretty goddamn quick. And I had to but I went to a three inch four and I will say golly what a load that is. There is nothing that flies waterfowl wise in North America that I felt underwhelmed. You know how it is, man, you’re getting blind, everybody shooting 12 gauges and 10 gauges and only because they can’t find eight gauges anymore. And I’m not there with a little 28 gauge and I never felt handicapped at all. Never.

Brandon Cerecke: Two seasons ago down in Oklahoma, my dog training buddies, we’re on a group hunt and Wally had a 28 gauge will try star 28 and everyone’s going boom and Wally’s got this little gun going pop. And everybody throughout that there was a different group of guys. They’re mixing complete strangers. They were kind of laughing at Wally with what he was doing, shooting at 28 gauge. He thought he was nuts. And he was laying down the law and those guys saw it and they’re like, what is that all about? It’s more of a challenge. Not really, it’s not people think it’s more of a challenge to go with a sub gauge gun but I like trudging through the swamp and I’m walking 500 yards deep in my marsh. I like being able to have a light gun on my shoulder and I like being able to shoot without ear plugs. And I like the not having the recoil. It’s almost like you’re shooting ducks with the Ruger 1022 when that 28 gauge cycles. It’s really fun.

Ramsey Russell: It really. Like I say.

Brandon Cerecke: Yes, no less lethal. With a 3″ load. I was in the 16th. You’re only a little bit shy of 28th and 16th of an ounce shy of a 20 gauge and 3 16. Sounds shy of our standard two and three quarter shell, but you actually have a little bit more payload than you do with the stinger. I mean, so it’s you don’t miss the extra payload.

Ramsey Russell: And it goes back to that square load. It just amazing to me how well that caliber, that gauge does that load, just really does its business. And I’ll tell you, I am going to take your word for it and try the 28 gauge three fives. I really ain’t.

Brandon Cerecke: So Zack and I shot the Benelli ethos Cordova’s that’s basically the same barrel and same action system as that new Benelli Super Black Eagle 328 gauge. We shot the Ethos quarterbacks last year. We reamed out the force and cones and improved, modified with the three inch shell and full choke with the two and three quarters what went with and man, we had a great time. Went up with Connor Golf Connor into September Zack and I had 28 gauges and I saw Zack Taking some folks with on honkers, the bolts with that 35 and I mean you ever see a big, you’ve seen this before, but you get a big guy like Zack and watch him start to giggling. I mean that’s something right there watching big old teddy bears act giggle like a schoolgirl when he’s laying down the law with 28 gauges, everyone ought to see that.

Ramsey Russell: It’s so light, if I put that, I keep a gun strap on my gun and if I put that 28 gauge on my back. I forget it’s there, it’s so light but after years of shooting, I like a longer barrel, a heavier gun that old 12 gauge. I’m really having to focus and I have to lead have to initiate the lead a little bit differently than swinging a heavier gun when I’m shooting a little 28 gauge. I have to start differently on the bird.

Brandon Cerecke: That might be why you did so good with teal because you got so far out in front of them with that the faster birds and that gun is faster and I would have to think I would have to slow myself down with that with that 28. Killing honkers is no big deal. But when you’re shooting ducks it’s a little bit of a different field.


The BOSS Shotshells Revolution 


Ramsey Russell: We started off talking about your building BOSS and doing all this kind of stuff and changing the world for conservation and everything else but to me the fact that Benelli, and I have no idea why they did, what they did, but the fact that Benelli developed, first a 20 gauge and now a 28 gauge on their super black eagle platform for waterfowl. I would bet my house that never in a million years would they have done that, were it not for BOSS Shotshells. BOSS Shotshells beyond. I’m just saying man, what I see happening out here. Talking to duck hunters and seeing just the changes underfoot unfold. I think that BOSS Shotshells has started a movement. I just, I mean nobody would have gone out 28 gauge for steel shot has existed, but nobody didn’t go mainstream. I mean BOSS shot shells single handedly, whether you brag on yourself or not single handedly started a revolution Brandon, I believe they started a revolution.

Brandon Cerecke: Well I think that, well, thank you Ramsay, but at the same time, you got to look at how we launched this, right? We took – Bismuth shot had been around since the early 90s. No one could figure out how to make it viable, available and successful. Companies either ran out of money because there were some good Bismuth shells that were made back in the day. They either ran out of money or were absorbed by other companies that didn’t do it the right way or it was a product that fit in a product line that was catered to a very small segment of the market. You bring in a guy like Lee who’s a genius when it comes to branding and marketing has spent a large portion of his career in the waterfowl space, has been a lifelong duck hunter. He’s had relationships with the guys at Benelli relationships with a lot of the key people and some of these established companies. And he was able to draw those experiences and in relationships and incorporate that into what BOSS has become. So yeah, Benelli, we’ve known and have worked with Benelli, developing, we knew that there was going to be three inch 28 gauges coming out for waterfall. We developed that load back in 2020 for that gun. But the production launch was delayed by a year and part of that was by design. But that there was also looking back at 21 you had the Super Black Eagle-3 20 gauge and you also the Super Black Eagle-3 12 gauge three inch. The 28 gauge was just further out in the development. But we knew that we want to be able to have a three inch shell to accommodate that guy that was on the fence about, man, can I go sub one ounce and kill ducks with it. We knew you could, we knew it. But we wanted to have a product that was going to be able to bridge that gap for a guy shooting 12 gauge, hey, ounce of the 16th versus ounces of the 8th and ounces a quarter. No big deal. But it had to operate ballistically. So that’s where we develop that load. We did. We came out with a three inch 28 gauge for Benelli. I mean I’ll admit it. We did it because we knew that there was going to be that gun coming out. We wanted a shell to fit the gun. Just like what Mossberg did for federal back when the super magnum came out in 12 gauge 3.5 inch, same kind of deal just 30 years apart.

Ramsey Russell: Well, that’s what I’m saying is 10 years ago, not even 10 years ago, all these ammo companies it was all about 3.5. It’s all about 3, it’s about square loads and non polished loads and coming up with all these gimmicks, all this stuff for bigger, faster, more powerful. And now in just a very short amount of time, you blink your eyes and there’s a sub gauge revolution. I mean, man, everybody seems like it’s grabbing for 20 gauges, 28 gauges and wanting 410s. I mean that’s completely change of tide and just a very short amount of time. And I believe I truly believe that copper plated balls is why you came in and filled a void that opened up those opportunities. I just cannot imagine us talking is excitedly 28 gauge with, with a 7/8 ounce load of steel.

Brandon Cerecke: And I could be way off. But I kind of have my own theory on human behaviors and I think a lot of people like shoot the 20 gauges for the reason I said before, lower recoil, lower noise, lighter gun, equal performance, that whole thing. But there are also a lot of people that want to do it to be different. I got to start shooting 28 gauges because I wanted to prove to like my group of guys, I chat with on a regular basis on that BOSS fan page, that you don’t need these super crazy payloads. It started off when BOSS, was founded in 2018 with an ounce and a quarter load. You don’t need a three inch shell shoot at two and three quarter. Well that’s kind of move back to say, look guys, you don’t even need a two and three quarter inch 12 gauge. You can do it with a 28 gauge. And then it becomes something that becomes part of someone’s identity. They want to be different. And social media used to be like, you can express yourself and be different and let everyone see you and people you don’t even know. Hey, look at me. I’m different than the next guy. What’s happened now on social media over the last five years is everything is the same, right? You start looking at people’s feeds. It’s all about piles of dead ducks, put them in a circle, and put shotgun shells around them, hanging from a tree and it all starts looking the same. So what’s going to be different? Maybe it’s a different camel pattern. Maybe it’s a new gun. Well, Individuals like variety. And I think that’s 28 gauges is just the next iteration of the new thing. Is it going to be a fad? Hell no, it’s not going to be a fad, but it’s a growing market nonetheless for sure.

Ramsey Russell: And duck hunting is subjective and duck hunting tools are subjective and we’re all individuals where we grew up under John Wayne individuality of America and we all like our own things. And that brings up a good point because like one of my favorite threads recently, I’m a huge Benelli fan, I love them. I absolutely love Benelli shotguns period in the discussion and I stumbled across the thread on the BOSS page one day and about heavier springs. 

Brandon Cerecke: And that’s the only thing I don’t like about Benelli is the springs that they put in have gotten soft.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Brandon Cerecke: Yep.

Ramsey Russell: That don’t make them a bad gun. That I’m going to say because thanks to you, I was able to, a non-mechanical guy, to figure out how to put a new hammer spring. And once I figured out how to do one, I did them all. I’ve been putting the butt springs in forever and somebody said, well, it wasn’t such a piece of ship gun, you wouldn’t have to do that? I’m like, whoa, do you know how many, $80,000 pickup trucks I see going down the road that have custom light bars, custom paint jobs, custom lift kits, custom tied personal seat covers.

Brandon Cerecke: Right.

Ramsey Russell: That doesn’t make it a bad product just because you want to make it personally. You want to, whatever. You can take anything and make it better.

Brandon Cerecke: If you ever figure out a way to stop the war that exists between the shell manufacturing and the gun owner when a shell doesn’t fire, please let me know.

Ramsey Russell: I know. But I see those things pop up but I have been shooting shotguns now for nearly four decades and there’s not a make model serial numbers something that every once in a blue moon doesn’t fail to file. I mean that’s just a part of shotgun, man.

Brandon Cerecke: I’ve got a Benelli M1 that was made in 1987, one of the early Benelli import of the United States through Chantilly Virginia. That thing got its original springs in it. I’ve got my first super Black Eagle that I bought in 2002 or 2003 with its original springs in it. One of the handful of Cordoba’s that we got our hands on last year didn’t even make it off the patterning bench before it wouldn’t even cycle and chamber a shell because the recoil spring took a set. It’s just a garbage spring. And I don’t blame Benelli. I mean, manufacturing shit happens. It’s no big deal. But if people know it, like, let’s just put a $15 spring and call wolf, get an extra power spring in there. And I run the same XP Wolf spring in my 12 gauges that I do in my 28. I put that identical spring in there and it runs two and three quarter inch 7/8 ounce shell, no problem. And it runs the Stinger Shell and the 12 gauge, no problem. Cycle faster. It makes them cycle like a damn machine gun. I mean they’re fast.

Ramsey Russell: Same here Brandon. I mean I just upgrade.

Brandon Cerecke: When back when Tom Knapp used to shoot Benelli is he would do that thing where he would take the Benelli M1 with an extended magazine tube and throw up nine targets all at once by hand shoulders all the way down. You can’t do that with the springs. And these new Benelli you just can’t they’re not they don’t cycle as fast as they used to. And that affects the lock up to I’m sure someone from Benelli here is that they’re going to get pissed off of me but I’ll take the eschewing because I’ve seen it firsthand Benelli M2 20 gauges. They don’t make it to hunts before. They won’t even chamber a shell. It just, it is what it is.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve not had that problem. But, I’ve always looked, I mean be it the beat on the front of the gun or whatever the paint job, the sterile coat. I mean, I like, it’s my shotgun. And you know what, all things equal make model serial. I want to shoot my gun. I don’t want to shoot your gun. I want to shoot my gun.

Brandon Cerecke: Right.

Ramsey Russell: And so I’ve seen people do all kinds of stuff to shotguns to personalize them and make them better and make them more make whatever. I mean, it’s like a baseball player with his baseball bat, he don’t go pick up his teammates bat for a big play. He uses his.

Brandon Cerecke: It doesn’t need to be a Benelli. I mean I had Atlanta was shooting Tri-Star’s, I got some Tri-Star guns. I had Mossberg’s. I’ve taken Mossberg’s out of the box 935 and polished the bowl, clean up the burns on it, put some aftermarket parts in it. Why? Because it runs better. It’s just, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. And to say that, hey, I bought this shotgun shell and I’ve had four of them not fire, as your shells. I got math on my side that doesn’t support that, right? And I can demonstrate that people come to my shop, they can see my test bench. I got data. And what I struggle with is if I give data to someone, I just don’t want to come across as being an asshole or a prick or someone that doesn’t want to listen because yeah, shit happens. There probably are shells that have been made that do have a dud primer, but that’s like one in a million. When a guy calls up and says I had 13 out of this case, not fire, it’s like, Let me work this through with you. And I kind of go over the manufacturing process. It takes me 22 minutes and I don’t like talking long winded, 22 minutes to have a conversation start to finish on how to get someone to understand that it might more than likely probably is something going on with that firing mechanism and it’s not the primer and it’s not our shell. But it just it is. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but I’ve yet been able to come up with a time where we’ve made a shell that doesn’t fire when the primer gets struck, properly.

Ramsey Russell: Well, to end on that note, I’m going to say this it. I know I’m biased Brandon, but I think BOSS is pretty damn perfect. It changed my life, and I just, Lord have mercy. If something were to happen to y’all, I guess I’d go back to shooting live.

Brandon Cerecke: No.

Ramsey Russell: One thing I’m not going to do is I’m not going back to the steel to the dark ages of steel shot. That is not going to happen in my lifetime.

Brandon Cerecke: We’re only going to get better Ramsey. That’s the thing. I mean if I look at some of the stuff now, like people thought BOSS was good back, we started 18. I look back at some of the shit we did. I’m almost kind of embarrassed. Like we thought it was good, but we’re only getting better.


The Future of BOSS Shotshells

Patterns beautifully well, awesome stuff, and it moves fast all day long.


Ramsey Russell: Anything new for the product lineup coming up this year, anything different?

Brandon Cerecke: We got a bunch of, we’re going to try to keep the supply chain manage it as best as we can with the finished product. If we have time to do it, I got a fiber wad, which I always thought fiber wad was going to be a more open type shell that doesn’t pattern as well because the wad doesn’t have pedals on it this, that and the other, well I’ve been screwing around. This going back last fall in winter, Zack and I got to play with our pattern machine and I got a fiber wad shell that patterns almost, I’m going to say it patterns more uniformly than a plastic wad shell. And 99% of the plastic is gone from the environment. So guys are you concerned about putting plastic in fields or in lakes and rivers? Fiber wad is kind of a throwback to the 1950s. But man, is it a good one? So that hopefully should roll out in 12 gauge and 20 gauge and then work on some of the other gauges as we have more time and resources to pull it off. But I’m going to try my hardest to get that thing out. Patterns beautifully well, awesome stuff, and it moves fast all day long.

Ramsey Russell: That’s fantastic.

Brandon Cerecke: That’s a good one.

Ramsey Russell: That’s killing power. That’s good. Why do you think they went to plastic? If the fiber wad was so good.

Brandon Cerecke: I think back in the sixties it was probably cheaper, more economical and more user friendly because instead of having to put spacers of varying thicknesses of cardboard and fiber wad, you could put a plastic wad that you could make it taller short or whatever you want. And it was more users friendly. Also, it became a necessity when the harder steel shot became the norm, you got to have that protection, but with bismuth being soft, a little harder than lead, still is soft and you confirmed to the barrel steel as it runs down the barrel. You no longer need that protection from the plastic. And what it does is it opens up that shot column and makes it a little bit wider. Even though that plastic of your wires is only 20,000 thick, 15,000 thick by making that shot column 30 to 40 thousands wider. It makes it shorter and when it’s shorter there’s less deformation on the pellets at the bottom of that stack and that fiber water absorbs a lot of that impact. So your pellets don’t get as deformed running down the barrel, which translates into better uniformity because the pellets don’t get smashed up as they’re flying through down range.

Ramsey Russell: Brandon. I appreciate you taking time out of your business case and be on today. Folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere. Get your orders in for next year. See you next time.


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BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

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Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

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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 ramsey@getducks.com. 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