While passing through during a road-trip, Ramsey meets with friends Brandon Cerecke and Zach Meyer at the new BOSS Shotshells HQ. A lot sure has happened during the past couple years since BOSS Shotshells turned the no-tox ammo industry completely on it’s ear! What are the most popular BOSS loads, and how does shooters’ load preferences usually evolve over time? What’s driving the sub-gauge revolution? Beyond the perfect pattern, what else is BOSS researching–and why? Any hints as to any new innovations? And what about ammo supply-chain shortages–are we over the hump? Tune in to this hard-hitting episode to find out!
A Day in the World of Boss Shotshells
My gosh, it’s like coming to a whole another place. What’s happened in the world of Boss all of a sudden?
Ramsey Russell: And welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, I am in the beautiful state of Michigan at the international headquarters of Boss Shotshells. Brandon, things have changed a whole lot since I was here last man. My gosh, it’s like coming to a whole another place. What’s happened in the world of Boss all of a sudden?
Brandon Cerecke: Well, what’s happened? There’s a lot that’s happened, but I’m kind of stay in my hole. I had to check out for a couple of months to get away from the loading presses and build machinery and all that and had it, for the first time, we’ve got an official budget that we put together, they’re going to review that on Monday for the next year. We kind of did a little reorg in the company where we’ve got people in different spots filling in kind of the gaps I identified along with Lee and Zach and the rest of the team. But what I think maybe most importantly, what we’ve done is as business has grown, I’ve been able to stay down at the bottom level, talking to all the consumers and then at night being able to go home and dream about high level stuff for the future of the company. So that created this gap in the middle, like what happens with everything else? Well, what we’ve been doing the last couple of months is filling those gaps. So what I think best for the future of our business is for Lee, Zach and I to stay down at the very ground level, doing what we do best, what made us what I think is the best in the industry with that direct connection with the consumer and then still letting Zach, Lee and I dream both individually and collectively as a group to move the path forward for Boss to continue growing in the right fashion and we got to have a solid team. So between Dirk, Meg’s back now, we’ve expanded pretty much everything. But again, I want to be up high and down low and then we’ve had to delegate a lot of the rest.
Ramsey Russell: I think what makes the perfect team is when not everybody thinks exactly alike. Everybody brings their own tools to the workshop and you kind of got appel a tool to work from, that’s what I think. Now, Brandon don’t take it the wrong way, but I’m serious as a heart attack when I say this and I was reminded of this when I came over here to the plant, seeing this blur buzzing around the shop, going from here to here his name is Brandon Cerecke and I go back and I look, I see things you’ve touched and things you’ve done to automate productivity and to make things run to make things better and I told somebody today at lunch, I said, it’s like meeting Henry Ford. As somebody that can’t drive a nail straight, most licks, I’m always impressed when I meet somebody like yourself.
Brandon Cerecke: And I grew up in – Henry Ford, I mean, that speaks to my heart with automotive industry, I mean, I cut my teeth in the auto industry and we still are. I mean, as you see everything going on out there, we’re still heavily automotive. But getting away from those loading presses and getting out of the shop and spending too much time, I feel will probably add an adequate amount of time building the plan with the team, I get real crabby towards the end because I don’t function real well when I’m out of the factory.
Ramsey Russell: This is your happy place, this is really truly your happy place, isn’t it?
Brandon Cerecke: I can’t do the white collar office thing, I can’t do the traveling hunter thing, I got to be in this factory and in the last week, this is my first kind of week back every single day at the shop, I mean, hell, the last two days I haven’t been at the new business, I mean, I come in at 03:45, I got there yesterday and I said, good morning, everyone, how’s it going? But that’s where I got to be. And we might have said on the podcast before, like when it comes to Lee, I don’t tell him how to take photography and make stuff look cool and he don’t tell me how to build a shotgun shell. Now, we can have communication where I say Lee, what do you think about this or what do you think about that? And he’ll do the same thing to me and Zach does too, like one of the perfect pictures as if anyone seen it that I think exemplifies what Boss is, it’s that ad with our three old guys with those guys carrying the water out and that was kind of like, I think Lee might have given me credit for being the, some director, I don’t know, Zach, what is it called?
Zach Meyer: The Art director?
Brandon Cerecke: The Art director or set director or whatever. But I came up with this idea, I said, Lee – that ad is now, I think 3 years old?
Zach Meyer: It’s coming on 4 almost.
Brandon Cerecke: Okay. Lee and I are still getting to know each other right at this point in time and I said, I want to shoot this ad with these old guys with old guns in vintage clothes, carrying out ducks having a big time. So he’s like, all right, we’ll do it when I come into town, I’m thinking this is going to be awesome because I get to kind of pick how I want this thing to come together. And I just said, old guys, old guns carrying ducks. So he came in and we drove around all over the area and we found this spot which happened to be the guy in the far left in his backyard, after about 4 spots that Lee wanted to shoot this ad and it wasn’t going to work, I need this, I’m thinking, oh shit, this is a bad idea. So we end up building this ad and like Lee made it the coolest thing. And what was awesome about that? I can time stamp it on my phone but start to finish that photo shoot took 15 minutes that included getting the guys dressed and undressed within one hour, we were back here at the shop and Lee had everything all corrected and ready to roll and he built the ad like the next day. And what that did is it shows the creativity that when people stay in their own lane with limited overlap, how you can move forward and take an idea and then turn it into art, but then the speed at which we did it and the lasting impression that ad still has even 3 years later, people are still seeing it for the first time. But the overwhelming feedback we got from our guys and Zach can probably speak to it more than I can. But the young guys want to talk about their dream to be those old dudes and have that much fun when they age out and the old guys want to talk about the guns. There’s something in that ad for everybody and I think that is Boss top to bottom.
Ramsey Russell: Amen, that’s a very good way of putting it. One thing that speaks to me about that photo and to me it’s kind of an iconic image, but what speaks to me about that photo and Zach and I were talking about this over cheeseburgers at lunch is Boss Shotshells premium unleaded, absolutely, a revolution that bring an old guy like me back to that day. After decades of having to shoot this steel shot bullshit, now all of a sudden I can shoot my granddad’s guns, I can shoot this kind of stuff, I can expect the patterns and the performance that is resonating now. But what I also see, because I keep up with you all social media, I talked to a lot of people, I hunted with a guy just a couple of days ago that had never shot lead at duck. We’re talking grown man, we’re talking a generation that’s now dads of kids that probably hunt that have never legally shot ducks with lead. They don’t have that benchmark of just why Boss Shotshells is that much better than steel shot.
Brandon Cerecke: I fall into that category, I’m 40 and I used to say back when we started the company that if a guy had gray hair, he shot lead, well, I got a shit ton of gray hair now after doing this Boss thing for a few years and I never got to see it. First, I got to watch him like my father shoot it, but I never myself killed anything with lead shot. But I remember how stuff used to die when I was a little 5 year old watching geese get hammered with number 2 lead and that’s kind of where we’re at right now.
What are the Top Shells?
I don’t know what it is about it but it’s unbelievable what one ounce of Boss Shotshells will do to waterfowl.
Ramsey Russell: And I think, when I start to ask Zach, I know what the answer is going to be because I ask, what’s the top shells? What’s the top cartridge length? And I think that steel shot add mentality, ethos is what it’s kind of driving at least the initial sale because here’s a guy – I’m just going on the record and saying this man, I have gone from shooting 3 inch 12 gauges to 2 and 3 quarter inch, 12 gauges to square off a 12 gauge and go full in on 28 gauge. And even in the 12 gauge round with a 2 and 3 quarter inch, I find myself maximum ounce and a quarter loads, I freaking love those one ounce stingers, I love those stingers. I don’t know what it is about it but it’s unbelievable what one ounce of Boss Shotshells will do to waterfowl.
Brandon Cerecke: My 12 year old last weekend out at our marsh killed a honker loner flying over my end and I got ready to – I pulled the trigger right about the time that bird’s neck hit its butt hole and he hammered that thing. He won’t shoot 28 guage and I like it because it’s light, it’s quiet, there’s no recoil and it’s fun, that’s the main thing, it’s fun. And when it goes back to 28 gauge it, I mean, we could write a book on this whole thing. But when we started Alex Brittingham, Gator’s mom, she was the one that needed these 28 gauge shells. So we bought the tooling and made these 28s. And to be honest, I never even heard of a 28 gauge before, next thing you know, I’m making these things on a Saturday and I’m calling up, I’m talking to Lou, I’m saying, hey, what do you want, how do you want this thing to go? And she really could give a shit less. I mean, she wants to kill stuff, so we made them, got them sent out and before you know it, people start talking 28 gauge, I bought a 28 gauge, loved it. Benelli asked us to build a shell for it. So, it’s kind of neat to know that what we’ve been able to do and I’m going to give all that credit back to Lou on that. So if it wasn’t for her, turn us on to a 28 gauge, I can tell you as I’m standing here now, you wouldn’t see that Super Black Eagle 28, that might be a ballsy thing to say. But I know the absolute truth behind that story.
Ramsey Russell: To me, it started a revolution of waterfowl and I know that the demand for Benelli 28 gauges was such that it socked them in the jaw, when that Super Black Eagle 3 28 gauge came out, good luck trying to find one man. I mean, the sales were flying off the shelf and it all goes back to Boss Shots Shells, you could not do that with steel shot, no way, no how.
Brandon Cerecke: I think a lot of it was – I mean, they already had the ethos that was a 3inch gun. But I think that was primarily, I can’t speak for Benelli, but I kind of think that was sporting clays upland gun where people – it wasn’t even a thought to have a nontoxic round for a 28 gauge for waterfowl. And like I said, you got to get Alex on here and she don’t even know it, I don’t think. But that’s where that whole thing started back in the fall of 2018. And we started working on that 3-inch load because I mean, after we built this 2 and 3 quarter 7, 8 sounds just dream of a shell. And then they’re like, oh, we need it in 3inch and you know how I feel about 3inch shotgun shells. But I mean, we kind of did it and I mean, we more than did it, but that was a long time coming. I mean, that was a long lead project and to see what it’s turned into is really kind of cool.
Ramsey Russell: I know you’ve told the story a million times, but I was, like I say, just hunting over Delta Marsh with a friend of mine who had not heard the story of how Brandon Cerecke got started and how and why Boss Shotshells was founded. Kind of just catch anybody up that may have been sleeping under the rock the last few years and has not heard how this even came to be.
Brandon Cerecke: Well, let’s get Zach in on that. I mean, he was kind of the man behind the curtain for the longest time and he was really pulling some strings behind the scenes unbeknownst to me and I think Zach, how old were we before I even heard of you? It was August, when we got Loflor –
Zach Meyer: It was August, like a week before Game Fair trying to coordinated delivery address.
Brandon Cerecke: Yeah. So we started this company officially, I think the website turned out in October of 2018, but Lee and I had met for the first time in April of 2018. So I mean, this thing hit as quickly as we did that photoshoot for that ad with those old dudes, it was Warp Speed from April. So April to August, I had heard his name a handful of times but didn’t even know he existed but come to find out he’s the guy behind the scenes that was putting everything together. Go ahead, Zach.
Zach Meyer: Yeah. You had hunted with a couple outfitters and then he was bringing shells up his little home loads on those hunts and instead of typical guide requests like, hey man, instead of the cash tip, how about you leave your ammo?
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I heard this from Matt Shower.
Zach Meyer: He was hunting with Matt and then Matt called Loflor –
Brandon Cerecke: To bring the shells across the border.
Zach Meyer: The first time, the very first of that previous fall.
Brandon Cerecke: No, that would have been the spring of 2018 to finish up the hunt.
Zach Meyer: For snows.
Brandon Cerecke: Yeah, because that was in 2018, I hunted with Shower and 2017 and 2018 and 2018 is when I knew I had something because the guys from 2017 were scared to death to shoot our stuff, my hand loads off the bench, they were didn’t want nothing to do with it. And then the next year, I gave them the stuff left over, I’m like, well, you can throw in the garbage can if you want, but I suggest you give it a shot. And then the next year we come back and these guys are like drooling at the mouth over, did you bring more of that stuff. So that’s coming on the heels of me selling off one of my companies and looking for something to do, I’m like right then and there the wheel start turning again and I couldn’t wait to get back home.
Ramsey Russell: Why were you even making those hand loads to take to Arkansas to hunt with Matt for spring snow geese?
Brandon Cerecke: Because I want my boy at that time, let’s see, this would have been 2017, this would have been the spring of 2017, my son was 6.5 years old and I want him to be able to shoot a 20 gauge and actually kill something, not wound it. So, the steel that they had available at the time, I don’t think it’s really even changed that much was 3inch, it might even be some 2 and 3 quarter steel. But I mean, it was just so violent, my kid couldn’t hack it. So I ended up making some really soft shooting 20 gauge stuff for him at 6 years old, he’s a little shit, you saw him again today, a little bit bigger now. But I thought, well, hell, if I’m going to make stuff for him, I might as well make some stuff for me and that’s where it all got into it. And it was for my kid for the recoil, but more than anything, the cripples, I mean, that whole crippling thing, I can’t talk enough about how much it used to bother me and almost drove me out of hunting twice. So that was the thought behind it and it was never about making money, it was never about growing this business, it was never about being ultra competitive and all that, I mean, I wake up ultra competitive I got that wrapped up. But it was just about conservation and getting my son involved and what it turned into quickly is my kids were here making shot with me that summer that we started this company and they’re seeing what this thing is doing and they’re bringing friends over to come through the shop and they all want t-shirts and we got little kids shooting now locally here and I’ve taken more kids duck hunting and it’s kind of morphed into this thing. But the biggest part, I think if I look back when I’m 75 years old, if God will I make it that long, I want my kids to be able to say I got to see what my dad did start to finish, starting a business. Because they kind of come up and I’ve always kind of been self-employed, done my own thing, but for them to see what it’s taken from a thought to inception to growth to everything that we’re doing, like they’re right at that age where they get it, there’s not one meal that gets put on the table, I don’t care, if it’s cooked at home or out at a restaurant, my kids always say thank you, they appreciate things, they know where it comes from. So for me, I’m satisfied, I’m totally satisfied, the rest is all gravy, whatever Boss turns into, I checked all my boxes right now. I’m not going to stop though, I’m going to keep going, obviously.
Ramsey Russell: Zach back on 28 gauge, do you shoot anything but a 28 gauge?
Zach Meyer: That is it.
Ramsey Russell: What is it like when you show up to a camp, because I know, what’s it like when you show up to a camp and you break out that little 28 gauge and everybody’s shooting 12s and 10s.
Zach Meyer: Yeah, you get the look at first for sure.
Brandon Cerecke: Big dude, tiny gun.
Zach Meyer: So, even yesterday, a guy we were hunting with moving guns around and obviously they’re all case in the back of a vehicle and I put him in the truck and he was pulling them out of the truck and grabs two right at the gate and throws him in the back of a -moves them and then grabs mine and I mean, this dude makes me look small. He grabs this case, like he’s doing like some snatch clean, I was like, jeez, he’s like, what’s this? That’s a little 28. He was like, man, I don’t know, I don’t think so, not here and I was like, no, just trust me.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I’ll own it. I’ve had similar results, when you show up, there’s 8 guys and we’re all getting everything set up and I break it and they go, is that a 20 gauge? No, it’s 28.
Zach Meyer: Yeah. Well, they think it’s like a little toy gun, I mean, it looks like it, but the thing is phenomenal.
Ramsey Russell: It does, it doesn’t hit like it, dynamite in a small package. And what load are you shooting mostly?
Zach Meyer: I shoot that 3inch, 35.
Ramsey Russell: At everything?
Zach Meyer: Yeah.
Ramsey Russell: 3inch 35, no matter what you’re going hunting for in the waterfowl world. What do you shoot Brandon?
Brandon Cerecke: This year, we’re doing 4s.
Ramsey Russell: I’m all in on the 4s.
Brandon Cerecke: Last year, I shot ducks with 5s and then I wanted to see what the 4s were like, this year, we’ve got a bunch of – not a bunch, we’ve got a permit to get rid of all the Mute Swans.
Ramsey Russell: Really?
Brandon Cerecke: Yeah, so we’re up in just a little bit, get a little bit more firepower, we don’t want to be tearing ducks up with a straight pile of 3. So, 35 or that 4 works good and it’s simple, it’s easy, that’s what I like.
Shooting with 8s
And I’ll tell you the thought of shooting bismuth 8s at ducks, unheard of.
Ramsey Russell: I started off shooting 7s down in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas for teal and then finished them off, on mallards and pintails up in Canada and I mean, just “puff puff”. I’ve got a client that was shooting big Canada’s with the 7s, dumping them.
Brandon Cerecke: We’re killing big animals with 8s even. So, what we’ve noticed is that, I’m always the guy that’s never satisfied and it pisses a lot of people off internally, I think at times, but my heart’s always in the right spot and when it’s easy to get complacent, right? If there’s not a lot pushing things forward, I kind of sometimes feel like I got to get back to the factory, right? Because it’s easy for me to feel like, I’m not being productive or complacent or just letting things go if I’m in that other building. So I get back to the factory and I get a fire lit underneath my ass and I start turning over rocks, well, then you start hearing like Lee was on this kick about wanting to make these 8s and now we’re making 9s for doves, I’m like, Lee, this creates so much of a bottleneck in manufacturing, but if it’s something you want to do, let’s try it. So in order for me to get behind it and really support it, I got to be turned on to it and if I can’t turn myself on, someone else has to do that and to see this stuff out in the field, what it does, field reports coming back from guys that shoot it that know it, I mean, we’re killing swans with 8s, so if you body shoot it probably not the best idea, but a body shot with a 4 or a head shot with an 8 and think of how many more pellets you have. We’ve got ducks that got shot overhead at 45 yards straight up shots with those number 8s buckled it. We kept those birds and we got a project that we’re working on rolling out, can’t quite talk about it yet. But it’s going to be a fun one and I want to always prove the science behind the product. And we run into issues where mathematical calculations and formulas that have been on the internet for 20 years don’t exemplify what we see in the field with our stuff, ballistic gel doesn’t always show what we see, high speed photography is helping, but we want to build the story and that’s my job on the background, when I’m not in the factory, I want to be, I’m always thinking about how do we get our head around this and present this information to the community so they can see it, believe it and more than anything, trust it. And I’ll tell you the thought of shooting bismuth 8s at ducks, unheard of. Because theoretically, it’s less dense than lead, but even though it’s got the copper on it, blah, blah, it’s a tiny pellet. I mean, tungsten 9s, I get that, I mean, we’ve tested all that stuff, but bismuth 8s, it’s like crazy and now we’re even going with 9s and we want to see how far can we stretch each shot size reliably in the field. And we can chat once we cut the mic and we’ll talk more about it, but give us a couple of months and everyone’s going to see that there’s some really fun stuff that we’re going to be doing.
The Number One Selling Ammo of Boss Shotshells
Well, I think obviously a lot of them start with that 12 gauge 3 inch shell.
Ramsey Russell: Zach, how does the prevailing thought, 30, 40 years of shooting steel shot, how’s that affecting Boss Shotshell sales in terms of the leader board. What’s you all number one selling ammo?
Zach Meyer: Well, I think obviously a lot of them start with that 12 gauge 3 inch shell.
Ramsey Russell: The 3 5s.
Zach Meyer: Yeah. Or even like taking that steel narrative, they like call and want to look at 2s or 3s, it’s like, all right, where are you goose hunting? And then you look at their address or you’re like, you’re in Georgia? What kind of goose hunting are you doing? Where are you traveling? Like, no, I’m shooting ducks, like oof, I’d moved down.
Ramsey Russell: But 35 are you all’s number –
Zach Meyer: It’s a versatile shot.
Ramsey Russell: 3inch 35.
Zach Meyer: Yeah, I mean, it’s very common, it’s very popular, I think, it’s the mental confidence of it, until they get into it.
Ramsey Russell: I think it’s what it is, it’s like a gateway drug.
Brandon Cerecke: I know it’s what it is. We spent $30,000 something running a high speed camera for a week and thinking we’re going to see this drafting effect where these little pellets are going to be tucked in behind the big pellets because the pattern is better than a straight load of force for whatever reason. And then people are killing more than anything with that shell for whatever reason, so we’re like, all right, well, we shoot ballistic jelly and kind of see, okay, here’s where your 3s go, here’s where your 5s go, the 3s go deeper, okay, yeah, that physics and math proves that. Okay, cool. But you can’t get past these field results. I’m thinking, well, maybe these guys are the average hunter isn’t the best shot. So, you need this long string that people talk about. So again, we rent the camera, we shoot all this footage, Joel Strickland from Surviving Duck Season packages it up and does his own little independent series with it, and we’re the guys, that kind of dreamed up the concept and how to roll this thing out and test it and us not being creative guys with video, we said, hey Joel, you do it. And then we’re shooting this stuff and it’s like, I’m not going to say it all looks the same, but there’s no real difference between a number 4 and a 3 5. And what we also proved is shot string is complete bullshit, it means nothing for all intents and purposes with the subject matter, killing birds shot string means nothing. The long string, the short string, the difference between a short and a long is 1/4th the time of a blink of an eye. So for a duck that’s flying 40 miles an hour, I mean, if you’re trying to shoot something going Mach 2 that might make a difference, but 40 miles an hour is essentially standing still. So, that difference, I mean, we could go down that path, but I mean, safe to say shot string doesn’t mean much of anything when people are comparing long to short these days nor has it ever. The testing methods that they did back in the 60s and 70s with Bob Brister, driving the station wagon with his wife driving the car while he shoots the long roll of paper to try to come up with what the shot string looked like. There were a lot of things that they thought happened that we’d like to believe they made sense, but when you actually analyze it frame by frame at 180,000 frames a second, it’s crazy how underwhelmed I was after the whole exercise. Okay, so now we’re 30, 45 grand, I don’t know what the whole damn project turned into costing, spend a pile of money to learn that it’s irrelevant, which is cool because it’s one less thing I have to worry about, but we can say, hey, we turned over the rock, there’s nothing there keep digging and that’s the path I go down.
Ramsey Russell: I’m not happy with the answer Brandon, I’m going to tell you why. Because many years ago steel shot was still kind of evolving, yada yada and somebody came out with a duplex load and it was shit. And I’ve seen other incarnations of duplex loads that don’t perform as hyped, what’s going on? Because in my mind, I’m thinking 3s are heavier than 5, 5s are slowing down, what’s going on that 3 5 Boss is patterning and hitting so freaking good.
Brandon Cerecke: The shot string is not appreciably shorter or longer than a standard load of 4s, bismuth, there’s 2 things that control how long a shot string is density and or hardness. So the higher the density, the more inclined it is to fly straight, the harder it is, the more inclined it is to fly straight because the pellets don’t deform and they fly through the air nice and smooth. So when you look at like pattern, tightness and uniformity, initially, it’s easier to control tungsten than it is lead. Steel patterns pretty darn uniformly because it’s hard and it’s round, it slows down rapidly because it lacks the density. As a result of that trying to like on the flip side of it, tungsten, we have a hard time getting tungsten to open up because it’s so dense and so small, the density relative to a cross sectional surface area. So where we struggle with to make a tungsten shell that’s going to open up, I mean, guys are shooting cylinder board chokes or we’ve got a customer that – I mean, a special customer of ours shoots a crazy amount of these shells and we developed a special load just for him with Tungsten and he’s shooting what is an ounce and 1/16th Zach?
Zach Meyer: One ounce.
Brandon Cerecke: 1175ft per second, modified choke, what yardage?
Zach Meyer: It’s far, it’s long.
Brandon Cerecke: Almost a football field, let’s say, just under a football field reliably at Game Preserve doing ducks, I think this is ducks, right?
Zach Meyer: Ducks and pheasants, yeah.
The Boss Way: Ethical Shots and Clean Kills
Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills, that’s the Boss way.
Brandon Cerecke: Yeah. So, that’s a freak show but it’s also crazy expensive, I won’t shoot it, I don’t need to shoot it, I don’t want to shoot it, but we’re going to make it because that customer asks us to do it for them and it’s one of those guys you don’t say no. So as you go down, like now let’s start talking soft shot with bismuth. I find it to be the best of both worlds because it has adequate density to kill, it has a controlled rate of spread, over zero to, let’s say 50 yards, 50 and then we’re going to own that market and you can control it with choke, you can choke it tight, you can loosen it up and the choke’s going to respond something like a hard shot like steel, if you have too tight a choke with too large of a pellet, you’re going to swell the choke in your gun and there’s only so much you can do. The nice thing with tungsten is you can loosen that choke up to try to get it to spread out. But you’re limited to what you can do, say, like I want to shoot tungsten at 30 yards over the decoys and I don’t want my pattern to look like a basketball or a softball, so there you got a little bit of work to do. But again, just knowing that the whole technology and again, doing the high speed photography, doing some of the projects we’re doing, shooting more than ballistic gel, having the opportunity that we can take this guy who’s going to shoot several 100 of these shells a day that can give us the feedback and then we can develop that. So it’s the relationships, it’s the partnerships we have with non-hunting industry people that give us the opportunity to really kind of explore what else is out there and what the limitations are. Because ultimately, we’re not shooting paper, we’re not shooting ballistic gel, we’re shooting live animals and if we’re going to take a shot and take an animal’s life and kill this thing, I want to do it as quickly and humanely as possible. So, that’s where it all falls. So you got all these different products between tungsten and steel and bismuth that all have good applications is just at what point do they either run out of energy or does it become economically infeasible? Like a guy that’s going to shoot everything inside 15 yards? He’s shooting everything up close, does he need bismuth? Hell, no, he doesn’t need it. You start taking guys that say I shoot everything in the decoys, well, we know that’s not true because crippling still happens and guys are still pulling the trigger well, beyond 30 yards. So there’s also the education behind it too that 30 yards, if we’re going to say 30 is 30 not 40 that we thought it’s 32.
Ramsey Russell: Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills, that’s the Boss way, you all started a huge conversation about patterning. It doesn’t matter what you’re shooting, it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting a Walmart lead shot, we ought to know what our patterns are doing.
Brandon Cerecke: We’re hunters so we know what it’s like to kill and I’m not going to say, we’re hunters, we’re killers. Like when we go out and hunt, we kill, it wasn’t always that way. I mean, our shotgun shells made it a lot easier but we’re the ones doing all this work and as hunters, our job is to be able to communicate this in a way that people trust and believe that what we’re doing is actually proven, it’s not just some gimmick, it’s not some BS. So if we can do that, it’s going to make those guys lives a lot easier. Perfect example, we’ve shot 35 ducks out at my marsh this year, we’re two weeks into the season, 35 ducks, we’ve only had one duck that was crippled, get away and we’ve had two that have been knocked down, that good dogs have brought those back. Other than that, I mean, everything’s dead in the decoys or just beyond them if that’s where those shots take place. So if you look at it one divided by 35 that’s better than 25% and we know that D.U and Delta gather that intel, U.S Fish and Wildlife gather that intel, we know how many birds get crippled and are lost every year and it’s a hell of a lot more than a one out of 35. So you take that a good dog knowing your shot, knowing your pattern, having lethal ammunition, there’s people spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to get a million ducks a year into the flyways, I think we can probably do that for a fraction of the cost just by getting more people shooting our stuff and following these simple rules, it’s not even a rule, it’s just a recommendation.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Zach Meyer: But it makes it more efficient in the field too. So if you’re out there, it’s like, hey, why don’t we kill them quick and get out of here, save this spot or let these birds rest instead of continuing to pressure them. Outfitter standpoint, it’s like, hey, if you’re running hunts, the last thing you want to do is have to sit there till 11 o’clock or something like that, chipping away.
Ramsey Russell: Educating birds.
Zach Meyer: Yeah. It’s like, hey, first, your client’s time, they’re better off, get them back in the lodge so they can eat nap, do whatever they want to do and then you as the outfitter guide, you can go out there and scout and work on the next day or the next couple days putting it together.
Ramsey Russell: Shooting limits of ducks in America is not getting any easier, it seems to be getting more difficult every year since I’ve met you two guys and I want every edge I can get. And right here at this shop, it was the first time I’d ever patterned a shotgun, Brandon challenged me and it got in my head.
Brandon Cerecke: And what you thought and what you got were two different things, initially.
Pattern and Choke: Best Gun for the Job
But uniformity and high percentages, I mean, it’s a dance, right, it’s a compromise.
Ramsey Russell: What I thought and what I got were two – and it got in my head because I just told him that night, I don’t need 70% of 30 in circle, I think 50%-55% would be fine. And I went out and shot a choke that I had shot a whole lot of birds with and it was 38% to 40% and that got in my head, so I started dialling it in and I see on you all’s – you’ve got a tremendous amount of dialogue coming on to your social media and that’s a big topic, everybody, it seems to be nearly everybody is out wanting to pattern and find the best choke and find the best combination for a gun to get that pattern that works for.
Brandon Cerecke: Well, and Don Collier told me in the summer going in the fall of 2019, he said Brandon, I can’t tell you on social media, I’ve seen more pictures of people’s shotgun patterns in the last year than I’ve seen in the previous 10. Now, is that something we started? I’m sure people have been patterning to various degrees that, over time. But I think we’re the first brand that’s actually brought it to the forefront and I’m not going to say we preached about it, but we inspired people to do it and it pisses me off when people rip us off other companies, I guess they’re called competitors, I don’t consider competitors but when other people that make ammunition, rip us off, whether it’s from stealing narratives or copying money bags or whatever, I don’t mind if they want to start talking about patterning and proficiency and all that because that’s inspiring their segment of the audience to get out there and up their game, so that’s just in the good name of conservation. Now, the stuff where they just rip us off blatantly just because other retailers all that, well, I have a different way of handling that and that’s where I get to have a lot of fun because then I get really competitive and I’m going to come up with something even better and I get to go to the drawing board and I go dark for a little bit and I come back with some really killer ideas, we’re going to talk about them here in a little bit.
Ramsey Russell: Competition made America stronger man, I hate competition in my space, but it makes me better because Russ doesn’t sleep by God, I don’t sleep.
Brandon Cerecke: You want to raise wheelbarrows, I’ll raise wheelbarrows, I don’t care. I’m one competitive dude, I love it. Absolutely love it.
Ramsey Russell: It’s what made America to start with was competition.
Brandon Cerecke: And what I feel we are as far as competition, we may not be in the lead, but if we act as if we are, we believe that we’re in the lead, I think we are in the lead on a lot of things that we’ve developed as far as programs and initiatives, we’re going to be rolling out and have rolled out. But when we’re focused and we know our path forward and all the other people can do is react, we’re in a good spot.
Ramsey Russell: I want to talk about patterns. What do you think the percentage you should fall for the average duck hunter on a 30inch circle, I’m going to ask it that way?
Brandon Cerecke: The old school standards always been 70% at 40, but I’ve even talked with guys about maybe 70%, let’s not get hung up on math, let’s look at uniformity. So if I can show, if I can throw a pattern at 70% or 74% at 40 yards, but I’ve got a lot of open area or I’ve got a couple holes versus having a pattern, maybe shoot 68% with beautiful uniformity. And that’s where, guys that shoot – the rule of thumb is the taller your shot column, the more inefficient your pattern becomes. So a 2 and 3 quarter 5 versus a 3inch 5, a 3inch 5 is going to fall off just by nature of physics and soft shot pellets down the bottom, get a little bit more deformed, you get a few more flyers, but overall you have more pellets in the air. So while your pattern density may drop with the same choke at the same distance with the same shot from a 3inch down to 2 and 3 quarter, the 3inch pattern may be light a few percentage points over the 2 and 3 quarter, but you end up getting more pellets on pattern and you do have maybe you have better uniformity that’s all kind of gun and choke specific. But uniformity and high percentages, I mean, it’s a dance, right, it’s a compromise.
Ramsey Russell: I want uniformity inside a 30inch circle and that’s why I tend to go not towards the 2 sides of the spectrum, but as low down towards 4s and 5s as I can get and know that I can still recover the species I’m chasing. But in my mind, by uniformity, I mean, if I can lay a mounted mallard duck or mounted wigeon or a mounted canvasback on top of that 30inch circle and he’s got a bunch of brakes on him, the dog’s going to get him, he’s going to be dead, that’s where I look at it. Have you ever seen, though? I’m just asking this facetiously because I think you can go too far down that rabbit hole. I see some of these guys online, it seemed to be they’re chasing, it’s like they want to get the prize for the tightest pattern that most looks like a slug. And I’m like, wait, that’s too tight, I don’t want to shoot a snuff can at a bird at 40 yard.
Zach Meyer: They want a 100%.
Brandon Cerecke: We’ve done that and that’s when we first started off and we’re shooting extra full chokes, I mean, we’re just almost decapitating honkers with 5s and an extra full choke. But over time, what I’ve come to realize is this 28 gauge thing, 28 gauge 3inch you got to shoot an IM choke, you shoot 2 and 3 quarter you can get away with the 4, I wouldn’t go any tighter than either of those with a 28 gauge. But back to 28 the nice thing about how that the 28 shoots is the way that pattern develops, over distance, I mean, it’s just crazy. And Ron Ryber, who was the head ballistician at Hodgson, who we buy our powder through and when we first started Boss, he was the first guy out of a whole string of people that told me I was crazy for wanting to do this, he really believed in what we were doing and he brought me on as an OEM single handedly without any approval from anybody else. The ballistician turned us on an OEM without ever having bought one drop of powder from him, just from me spending an hour on the phone with him, tell him what I wanted to do. And he was so behind what we stood for and what we were set – about ready to kick off when it came to this 28 gauge. I mean, we’re building 12, 20, 16 trying to get our head around, how we start this business from zero. I’m like, Ron I got a customer that needs us to build a 28 gauge, he says, Brandon with what you guys are doing, here it is. And he gave me his formulation for how he would start off developing a 28 gauge and that’s where it rolled right in. And he even put, he’s like, the 28 gauge patterns like a flying saucer through the air on edge, kind of like the flying saucers with the disks, the disc with the 2 bulbs on the top, kicked at 90° and he said, it’s like a perfect pie plate flying saucer going through the air and I mean, at 40 yards and IM choke number 4s, I mean, it’s 80% for me with my gun the way we prepped it with the long forcing cone and all that stuff. But it’s super efficient, super quiet and that’s a nice thing too where across the marsh, if we got guys set up a couple of 100 yards away, even with the barrels pointed at us, when those guns go off, it’s pop, pop, not boom, boom. And that you can hear that sound travel with those 12 gauge guns that you cannot hear with the 28s. So you got pressured birds or you got a roost nearby or hell, even inside some of these pit blinds, you’re not getting your bell rung and you’re not sending sound out that’s going to be getting these birds aware when they want to come in.
Ramsey Russell: In my 28 gauge, I shoot a factory mod and I shoot it so much, I back it off every now and again just to make sure it doesn’t get welded shut and sometimes I go to improved mod. In a 12 gauge, I’ll just be honest and maybe you can explain why this is so, but really, I like an ounce and a quarter max, I don’t like the bigger stuff, I just don’t like it and with an ounce and a quarter modified choke, sometimes improved mod with those little one ounce stinger loads which I have come to love and I don’t mean like, always an improved mod sometimes a full. Why don’t I like those bigger loads?
Brandon Cerecke: I think because you got used to shooting the 28 gauge and like the stinger and I call the stinger is for all intents and purposes, in my mind, the stinger is the closest thing to a 28 gauge you’re going to get out of 12 gauge.
Ramsey Russell: Square load.
Brandon Cerecke: It’s more square looking, yeah, the shot column is, shorter shot column, increased percentages with all that being said, slightly fewer pellets, but a higher percentage, lower noise, lower recoil, deadly as all hell.
Ramsey Russell: Deadly. It’s something about that pattern.
Brandon Cerecke: Well, and I haven’t shot an ounce and a quarter shell in the field since the fall of 2019, 20 season. 2020, I switched to shooting the stingers and 28 gauge.
Ramsey Russell: I can see where, as I deplete those out in the quarters and stuff, I’m going to probably be all in on stingers, I can see that, when I have to shoot a 12. Like as we’re going down to Argentina, Brandon or Mexico or some of these foreign countries where lead is still legal, there ain’t no ounce and a quarter, I’m aware of down there, it might be an ounce and 8th, probably an ounce on 16th.
Brandon Cerecke: Well, at some point in time, the industry kind of got funny in this heavy payload, super tall shell, that whole thing.
Ramsey Russell: Is that over cut compensation?
Brandon Cerecke: If I had Brister’s book in front of me, I could open up right to the page and tell you, but when they talk about the best performing shotgun shells as far as pattern efficiency and all that, a 10 gauge is only supposed to have like an ounce and 3, 8s and your 12 gauge is going to be right around an ounce and your 20 gauge is going to be 3 quarters of an ounce. So all of these shells started becoming overstuffed and overfilled probably because they’re developed by guys with egos, right? I’d shoot a 4 inch because they made it, but I have to shoot 3.5 because they don’t make 4, blah, blah, we kind of flipped that whole narrative on its ear and kind of went down a different path and I think people are slowly coming to realize like, hey, there is value in this stuff.
Zach Meyer: But they can see the results, it’s performance based. Like, shoot it, you can see it, whether that’s paper or a bird.
A Game of Error
Shooting wild animals is a game of error, it’s kind of like baseball, you’re going to ding them, you’re going to be below them or above them or a little behind them sometimes. But the more you can just boom like that, that’s what you want.
Brandon Cerecke: It’s like, Zach, I don’t even know like, how does stinger in our whole lineup, how does the stinger one ounce sell compare to like the ounce and a quarter shell? It’s not as popular.
Zach Meyer: No, not even close ounce and a quarter still live. But I think that progression is, these guys start with the 3inch shell, they see what it does. Once they actually shoot it and use it, they drop down to this 2 and 3 quarter ounce and a quarter shell in 12 gauge. And then it looks like the next year like a lot of them just bounce right to 20 gauge.
Ramsey Russell: Stinger is just now really growing on me. The very first time I shot Stinger loads, I was in Canada on a hilltop shooting mallards, standard modified choke, I didn’t like it. I was missing and I was dinging them and I didn’t like it. I went slept on it, got up the next morning, put in improved and mod in and buddy it was a game changer. And then, I went from, I’m not sure about it to loving it. I’m like, holy cow. Shooting wild animals is a game of error, it’s kind of like baseball, you’re going to ding them, you’re going to be below them or above them or a little behind them sometimes. But the more you can just boom like that, that’s what you want.
Brandon Cerecke: It used to be at it. I got to a point with steel shot that you lose confidence, the worst thing you can do, whether you’re shooting free throws or swinging at 100 mile an hour pitches or shooting shotguns, I think the minute you lose confidence, you get stuck in your head, you might as well unload your gun and go inside. But I walk down that path of, do I even know what I’m doing with steel shot, like am I put – and then you’d hear the bird, shooting at honkers as you’d be bouncing pellets off and so I’m connecting with these things. Never once, I mean, obviously because I’ve made the shells and I know what they can do, but what I think we can get our consumers to understand you kind of went down this path a little bit with the first time you shot stinger, you didn’t blame the shell and say these shells suck, it’s not the shell because when we’re out in my marsh, everyone’s shooting our shells and they’re all shooting the same gauge and shot size and if I’m missing and I see other guys connecting with them, I know that it’s not the shell, it’s the gun. And I got to that point probably back in 2019, that first year after we started, I know if I’m missing, it’s because I’m not doing my job and that’s a proficiency thing. It’s not the guy who needs to go out and buy a new gun or start shooting $6 shells or try to buy new choke or this or that. We put the advantage back in the hands of the hunter and it’s up to them to be able to do their job because what Zach can do, he can shoot better than I can at long distance and what I’ve seen him do is like, holy cow, I want to work to get to that level because that’s what I want to do that. I want to be able to stretch the limits of our product out to the very end and then I’m going to keep pushing forward. So, for me now it’s a proficiency game.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah.
Zach Meyer: But all that takes is just, like, eat your pride self-reflect. It’s like, okay, if you play baseball and you miss, you can’t hit the ball, homie, that’s not the bats fault.
Brandon Cerecke: Right.
Ramsey Russell: We all have our bio rhythm, we all have our time and sometimes you wake up and your time is off, that’s just how it is. Sometimes you can’t. And I see people, folks criticizing product and I’m like, I bet he’s shooting behind the bird.
Brandon Cerecke: When we first started, I think we had like 24 cases of shells in inventory or something, I got pictures of it, it was before the website even happened.
Zach Meyer: It was a little wreck.
Brandon Cerecke: Zach had this guy that ordered like 6 or 8 cases of shells from us.
Zach Meyer: 8. So first day of Game Fair that very first day.
Brandon Cerecke: He got his stuff and he called back or Zach called, he’s like, dude, this guy is pissed. It’s like, he says, these shells suck and they don’t work and he wants his money back, I’m thinking my God, we spend all of our freaking money, I’m damn near broke, we’re hemorrhaging cash, I can’t afford to give this guy’s money back.
Zach Meyer: And that’s a third of our inventory.
Brandon Cerecke: What are we going to do? So, Zach ended up talking to the guy, like, I didn’t hear anything, it’s one of those times where you don’t avoid a situation but you’re hoping that phone doesn’t ring, I’m like, Zach, whatever happened, he was like, oh, I talked to the guy, he loves this shit, he was just shooting for shit that day and it was just all in his head.
Zach Meyer: But that’s it. I mean, they’re quick. It’s like, hey, this doesn’t work, it’s like, okay, what are you doing? And you work through it with them and then they get it, then it clicks and it’s like, look, we’re not just out here running around with no experience as to what we’re talking about like, we’ve done it like we’re one of you. So if you’re struggling with it, man, I get it, but just tell me and then we’ll figure it out.
Ramsey Russell: I had a friend from the east coast call and I posted up something about something and he called and said, man, you like that Boss, I go, I freaking love them, he goes, I don’t know, and he wasn’t saying Boss was bad, he was just saying I ain’t shooting good with them. And I knew immediately, I said what choke are you shooting? I don’t remember what choke he was shooting, it was super tight something, laser beam, if somebody had a choke the name laser beam, that was it. I said, when you hunting next, he goes probably this week and I said, put in a modified and let me know how you do. Take 2 aspirin and call me back tomorrow. He loves it. He was just shooting too tight for birds in the decoys and it’s just fix it. There are days I shoot a lot and I feel like I shoot decent, there are days I shoot so bad, I just put the gun down, start filming or play on the phone or watching you all shoot or whatever else, tomorrow is another day.
Brandon Cerecke: You never called and told me that the shells don’t work, so thank you for that Ramsey.
Ramsey Russell: Well, because they do work, you know what I’m saying? I know what’s broken. Usually, I see enough people shooting a duck blind on any given season that I can tell you 99% of the time when the bird don’t fall, you’re shooting where he was instead of where he’s going, myself included.
The Art of Duck Shooting
But I think 99% of the time, I think a lot of the time that I see people shooting is just bad shooting, not the product, not the gun, not the choke, not the ammo, not the decoys, not the wind, it’s got to boil down with shooting.
Brandon Cerecke: Last year, if we rewind a year, I was at school board meetings telling these school board members in a nice way, say own your shit and then move on. I’ve told that to my kids, own your shit and then let’s move on. And 2 years ago, I think I told guys when they were getting light primer strikes, I might have said something on the Facebook page, I wouldn’t tell my own kids who are now, they’re 12 and 14, they are 10 year old kids. Take good care, take better care of your shit, how dare you talk to your customers that way, telling people to take better care of their guns. Well, I don’t have a problem telling my kids that, so what’s wrong with asking you guys to do a little bit better job on cleanliness and quit blaming the shell right away. So, if people can accept responsibility, imagine how much better this world would be. If they say, hey, I know down up littering out in the field, leaving boxes or trash out in your blinds or whatever, they take responsibility, hold themselves accountable, what could we do as a group of hunters as conservationists, just get over yourself. That might be a kind of a harsh way of putting it out, I went down that path but –
Ramsey Russell: No, I don’t think it is because I think culturally and generationally and just the world as compared to say 1940 or 1950 America, I think a lot of self-accountability has began to go on the sidelines a little bit. I think you’ve got to be accountable for yourself, you got to be. And you know what, are you dreaming of going to Argentina, going to Azerbaijan buddy, you better know how to make something, use some duct tape and baling wire, if shit goes sideways because it can, you’re a long way from home, you can’t just run to your gunsmith, your gun safe and get something else, you got to make it work and if you’re going to hunt tomorrow, that’s how it is. Am I right? Yeah, if it’s broke, fix it. But I think 99% of the time, I think a lot of the time that I see people shooting is just bad shooting, not the product, not the gun, not the choke, not the ammo, not the decoys, not the wind, it’s got to boil down with shooting.
Brandon Cerecke: Right. Well, a lot of it is, is what we’re finding out is this down range pattern density that number 5s have and that’s where I want to know and that’s where we’re going down this path of how does a bird die? What actually happens when this animal dies? What creates the trauma? How many pellets does a bird really need to have? What is the ballistic gel depth penetration this and this, other people can shoot ballistic gel, we’re bored with that, we did that back in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, we’re sick of shooting ballistic gel, now they’re even making ballistic gel, shaped like a duck, whatever the hell that’s supposed to do. But where we’re going with it is, if people tell us how – they call up and talk to the girls in the office, they talk to Zach or they talk to me, what we ask is, what are you killing? How far out are you comfortable taking a shot? Because what we’ll see is if guys want to start stretching these shots out, well, maybe they need to start going with smaller pellets a little bit bigger lead, get on their head and neck versus, well, I just shoot everything inside the decoys, well, anything will work then. But you might run in a situation where, 3s create holes in the pattern at 50 yards, but if you tighten that choke up a little bit or get out in front of them with number 5s, you’re going to be able to wreck them. And we’ve even gone down the path of how far do you go before a tungsten 9 no longer is effective because of whether it’s lack of trauma or lack of energy or whatever else, does tungsten 9 work so good because there’s so many more pellets that go in there, that’s the rocks we’re turning over now where we’re going with this. And then if tungsten 9 becomes the baseline of long range killing power on any animal with wings, how can we walk back? And what limits do we have with copper plated bismuth to create a fair comparison at 1/4th, I think the cost, it’s less than that, I think it’s probably 1/5th maybe, 1/4th, yeah.
Zach Meyer: It’s just like establishing benchmarks for real people, like, not some theory or concept. It’s like, prove it out or disprove it one way or the other, it’s at least, come up with something on it.
Brandon Cerecke: But we’ve yet to get to the point. Well, Zach, tell us about Saskatchewan, you were test driving Paul’s fancy 9s in 20 -?
Zach Meyer: Those are 12 gauge, 9s versus 12 gauge, shorty 5s, which were paper halls, all the way to 20 gauge, 3 inch 5s, I was shooting 28 gauge, 3 inch 35s, shooting specks, ducks and pretty much – there was a certain point where it was like, hey, we’re going to shoot these a little bit further than how we would normally typically finish them.
Brandon Cerecke: But you’re with a line of guys that are legit killers with enough backup ammo and that’s the thing that, if you’re going to take these hero shots or stretch out and this is in the name of R&D, right? We’re not trying to brag and we’re not posting on social media, when we talk about distances, like we don’t want to talk about how far Paul can shoot, but it’s a long distance and we’re not promoting that. This is a peek behind the curtain at what goes into behind the scenes into developing a shell, we need to know, put it through its paces. So if we’re going to stretch out a 3 inch 28 gauge 35, there’s going to be a guy there backing up with something that can kill that we know and with an operator that can take that shot, so we’re not going to be crippling, right?
Zach Meyer: Yeah. So it was, the little gunner take the first shot and the whole concept that a gauge has anything to do with lethality is a total farce. That same 3 inch 35 that I was shooting, it’s the same 35 pellet in the 12 gauge, so it’s payload pattern density at that point. So you start shooting them and you start getting comfortable and confident and kind of stretch it out a little bit from there and then it’s like, hey, there’s a point here where it’s like, I’m not going to take that shot, but the other guns probably could. But then it was, at the same time, it’s like, hey, let’s finish these things, let’s put them right here and if that number is 50 or 60 it is and obviously we’re not going to like run around like beating that drum it’s like, finish those birds. But if you have to, that’s cool. If you’re going to pass shoot them over pine trees, go right ahead. That technique is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. And I think the biggest difference that people need to get comfortable with, it’s like everyone’s running around, like, I only decoy them. It’s like pass shooting that was very common, it still is, that’s a technique.
Brandon Cerecke: Pass shooting honkers, man, that’s a way of life for some people, they don’t want to shoot decoyed geese.
Ramsey Russell: What do you do on a day that they’re not coming in the pocket that they’re going to come just right above you 30 yard high instead of to kill hole, you’re going to make due, you can adjust all you can, but then if that’s all they’re finishing, you’re going to kill them at 35.
Zach Meyer: And if it’s a high percentage shot that you’re comfortable with taking, whether it’s straight over the top, straight vertical and you have all the vitals right there, okay, go for it. If it’s quartering away, going away and you’re like, man, I can’t shoot that or I’m not good at that shit, then don’t shoot it.
Brandon Cerecke: When you were stretching those things out, let’s just be honest here, there were 60 yard shots or 55 yard shots routinely, 20 gauge 35s.
Zach Meyer: Smashed them.
Brandon Cerecke: Okay, what kind of – are these coming in where they’re breaking it or they’re shagging out, the going away birds, what is it?
Zach Meyer: It was crossing, straight crossing perpendicular, it was straight over the top. Like that standard snow goose that would just sit there and like, stare at you and not move, it almost felt like it was like hovering like a kite. Just pull up, shoot that thing straight up and just boom.
Brandon Cerecke: Who was doing that? The snows or the giggles?
Zach Meyer: Specks too. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there was ducks going away that were on the opposite sides of –
Brandon Cerecke: Well, we knew that early on when Ira the first year that back in 2018 –
Zach Meyer: Me, Ira, Paul, Cowboy and Joey were up there shooting duck set first day and then rolled into cranes and then those honkers.
Brandon Cerecke: And there was that video of those cranes that Ira just broke those things down and he ended up killing a mallard at pretty sick distance. And that’s where I think, that’s what got Lee fully on board, not if it was Ira’s shot or if it was that hunt, but he came back and I remember this kind of crabby old guy that was really particular and super stubborn in the first few conversations on the phone, it’s like, I shoot tungsten number 7 and that’s it. And before that, I’ve shot other stuff, but that’s my benchmark, that’s where it all started with the number 5 and now, after 3 or 4 years of that, Lee’s shooting 8s in timber and now he wants to try stretching out 9s and some timber shots – He told me about one that, that him and Watt were out 28 gauge 8s and he said that a bird lit in the decoys and he killed it and he lasered the tree the next day and that tree was like at 62 yards or something like that, so he said it was 55 every bit. But again, it’s pattern density, right? I mean, we know that what does a number 8 do at 55 yards on a duck? We’re going to find out. But I imagine that we’re putting stuff in its head and neck and brain and probably less in the chest, but who knows?
Zach Meyer: First 3rd of the bird, isn’t that good to go? Hit the tail –
Brandon Cerecke: And the other thing too, like, I think people have different definitions for what a cripple is, like, I think some guys probably, I could be wrong but I think a lot of guys think a cripple is a bird that they know they have shot and that got away that they’re not going to be able to retrieve. For me, a cripple is a bird that hits the water and is not dead, that’s my definition of a cripple. So when I say I want zero cripples, I want everything gone dead in the air on its way down, that’s my ultimate goal. I do not like birds, kind of looking at you when the dog brings them back, neck outstretched, all that stuff, no buddy, that’s not me.
Zach Meyer: What do you got next? Where you going?
Ramsey Russell: Where am I going? Man, I’m leaving here and going to Ontario, Vermont, Maine, New England was down around Boston, I’m going to say, Illinois and Missouri, home for Thanksgiving.
Brandon Cerecke: You’re going to be gone until Thanksgiving.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I’ve been gone since September 9th, going to be gone to Thanksgiving probably by the time this episode airs and got some work to do around the house for 2 weeks and I’ll hit the road again.
Brandon Cerecke: It’s hard to fight with the wife when you’re gone all the time, isn’t it?
Ramsey Russell: That’s right.
Zach Meyer: Does Anita have all your shit packed up on the front step?
A Connection to Clients: What Boss is All About
Because that’s one thing that stands out about Boss Shotshells as compared to hardly any other brand in the outdoor industry is the fact that, I mean, everybody on your staff engages with your client base.
Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah, she don’t miss me. You started off talking about Lou one shot Lou 28 gauge, how important is your relationship with your clients and followers? Because that’s one thing that stands out about Boss Shotshells as compared to hardly any other brand in the outdoor industry is the fact that, I mean, everybody on your staff engages with your client base.
Brandon Cerecke: Zach and I may have two different opinions on this, but I’m a fast moving guy and I don’t have time for nuances that a lot of people spend a lot of time developing relationships, I give 100% of my respect, trust and loyalty up front. And I’m a loyal guy and I have always been taught that people take care of people and I put all my trust and faith into someone upfront until it’s not there someone breaks that trust. So for me, this business runs on loyalty. I mean, Zach Lee and I ran this company for 2 or 3 years on a handshake with nothing formalized to the lawyers because every time we want to do stuff with lawyers, we end up getting busy on a different project and what’s more important, us dealing with paperwork and bullshit with lawyers or making happy customers, building relationships. So, I put a lot of value in people, in relationships that we have so much to a point that I think it’s probably hurt us at times because you’ve got people, that get a peek behind the curtain and then end up sharing information or ghosting or relationship changes or whatever. And it’s like, man, I’m not going to do that again, but then I meet another good person, kind person and I’m back at it again. So, I’m starting to wise up a little bit more and be a little bit more guarded with who I – like, Lee says, his tent gets smaller, so I kind of added to that and I say there’s people I’ll sit around the campfire with and then there’s people I’m going to let inside my tent, so I’ll let pretty much everyone sit around the campfire, there’s only a handful of dudes, I won’t even let at the campsite. But my tent is getting smaller over time, unfortunately, that’s on the industry level.
Ramsey Russell: But you do have a very big dynamic on online and I see just lots and lots of people like myself like Aaron, a bunch of us waiting in and answering questions because we’ve shot a lot of them and I’ve just never seen anything like, I’ve never seen a company like this be so open, it’s like a virtual store, it’s like a virtual coffee shop, people coming in and out –
Brandon Cerecke: Oh, absolutely. And people know that we’ll bend over backwards and walk through fire for our employees and for our partners, you, we’ll do whatever it takes and it’s not that we expect people to do that in return, we just don’t want people to screw us over. Because with the speed at which we move, you can see how things get – R&D for a lot of our – some other people are rip off and duplicate instead of actually do the work. So we’re doing the work and what – I hope at some point they understand is the more they come after us, the further out in front we’re going to get and we’re just going to keep chasing, we’re going to run faster, we’re going to work harder later, come in earlier, whatever it takes. But that’s what I see and I think that does trickle down with our employees, the customer service gals, they know that they’ve got a free license to do whatever it takes to make people happy, to a line, to a limit, everything does, nothing is absolute, but they got a lot of rope to play with. So if there’s ever a guy struggling needing help, I mean, they call those girls, they’re going to move mountains for him.
Ramsey Russell: First time I came here 4 years ago, I guess you all had just got started, I had never seen shotgun shells rolling off an assembly line, like I sat there and watched. Came back two years later, I’m like, God, I came back a day and it was like unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it, and it’s just 4 short years, that tells me that whatever you’re doing is working, it’s speaking to people not just to me, but it’s speaking to hunters. You’ve started movements 28 gauge movements, patterning movements, you all have in a lot of ways, Brandon, Zach, Lee, who’s not here but probably listening, you’ve changed, you’ve brought a lot of all those old school values, those three old men, what those guys valued about duck hunt, you’ve brought it back into the sport that’s got to feel good.
Brandon Cerecke: Zach, what do you think?
Ramsey Russell: It’s got to feel good.
Zach Meyer: I mean, you almost have to take a step back to look at it, but you’re so busy in it and committed and literally just busy that you can’t, it’s really difficult to take a step back to look at it from an outsider’s perspective.
Brandon Cerecke: Yeah, it’s fun to hear, but I just kind of – I find myself having to stop and actually listen to that person talk because I don’t even know the words modest or whatever, like, I don’t celebrate in the end zone, I just keep my head down and keep working like that’s who I am. And I don’t need – I say, when people pay me compliments like that Henry Ford thing, I’m like, it makes me feel uncomfortable almost to some degree because it’s just odd, you know what I’m saying? Like, we’re working, we’re focused.
Ramsey Russell: I know you are, Brandon, because the only time I get to talk to you, eyeball to eyeball is mic you up at a dinner table, the rest of the time, I’m talking to the side of your head because you’ve been overworking out here in the shop.
Zach Meyer: The cool part with the new location, the new building, we’re getting a decent amount of walk in traffic, folks will just come in, they’ll stop by the shop and listening to their like success story or answering their questions and when they walk in the front door, like just the smile that’s on their face, it’s cool.
Brandon Cerecke: My thing is, I worry about perception and with us not having any loading presses over there, I don’t want people to think that, oh, they’re having someone else make their stuff or it’s made whatever they’re trucking it in blah, blah. So those guys that really want to kind of geek out about how stuff’s made, I’m like, tell you what, I’m going back to the other shop, it’s 5 minutes away, follow me back, I’ll show you where everything’s made but know that we’re working on bringing everything over here at some point. So it’s like, I worry about that whole, I’m not going to say fake, but I’m a manufacturing guy, I want people to see the manufacturing, I could give a shit about the building that we put together how that looks. I mean, I do to some degree but I like people knowing that that’s made here in Michigan, that’s my thrill.
Zach Meyer: Yeah, totally. But just how far like the brand has come and it’s still a little blip, but like they’re so excited and happy to be a part of it and just to share their own personal experiences, whether it’s the hunting or the dog or whatever, whatever it is, everyone’s story is different there and that’s the cool part.
Brandon Cerecke: You get these guys that drive and we had guys drive from Ohio all the time, Southern Illinois, 5 hours, it’s like, oh, you’re here at 11, yeah, I left early this morning and made a day trip out of it. There’s dudes that come through the shop that, hey, we’re going to lunch, you want to jam with us? Let’s go buy you lunch, they end up turning into buddies and it becomes like a revolving cast of characters, these guys up? Yeah, Gonzo is here again or whoever it is. Oh, it’s awesome.
Zach Meyer: But you got to pinch yourself, you ask them, it’s like, well, where are you guys headed? They’re like, well, we came here. It’s like you came here, from where?
Ramsey Russell: It’s a tourist destination now.
Zach Meyer: No shit, I got to spend more time with you then, you feel guilty and then the phone rings, you’re like, I don’t know what to do.
Brandon Cerecke: So then we just say, hey, just hang out, we’ve got this thing like upstairs, the conference room, whatever room it is the cool room, yeah, I mean, we want to make this thing. So it’s like, hey, just don’t take pictures of my machines running and just enjoy it. Like grab a pop, grab a bourbon, whatever you want to do, just hang out here as long as you guys want. And that’s where we’re going for this community type vibe and we can’t talk to enough people, we can’t have enough people come through the doors and people end up coming through, they’re like, man, Brandon, talk to me, that’s because my mind’s going a different direction, I got to get this done. But usually like if I’m there in the morning, dudes come in, we’ll bullshit for however long and they want to carry on the conversation.
Global Supply Chain Issues with Ammo
So that was a product that was available as a result of the pandemic instead of us saying, oh well, I guess we’re not going to make ammunition for a couple of years, we can’t get this, can’t get that, it’s like bullshit, figure out another way.
Ramsey Russell: Pandemic put a stick in a spoke to the global supply chain that seems to be working itself out.
Brandon Cerecke: It’s slowly getting better. But at the same time like that wasn’t good enough for us to say, oh, well, you can’t get this, you can’t get that. If people knew how much we were able to grow because we refused to take no for an answer, it’s kind of a testament to like that grit, like I like to say that blue collar factory worker get shit done, I don’t want to hear anything but it’s going to happen because all that other stuff is an excuse in my world.
Ramsey Russell: Real American shit.
Brandon Cerecke: Well, and what came out of it, Stinger, right, because we couldn’t get the powder we needed for heavy payload cartridges, so we went back to the drawing board and we’re like, well, let’s try this, how far can I take this powder and then we end up shooting patterns, we notice that it’s low noise, the recoils almost nothing. Okay, let’s take it on a spring hunt because we’re coming off the back end of our season, raking snows at 50 plus. Okay, cool, let’s roll it into a product. So that was a product that was available as a result of the pandemic instead of us saying, oh well, I guess we’re not going to make ammunition for a couple of years, we can’t get this, can’t get that, it’s like bullshit, figure out another way.
Ramsey Russell: Amen, any parting shots?
Brandon Cerecke: Zach, you got to have something.
Zach Meyer: No, man. I just wish you the best of luck on your next trip.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, well, I’m going to be shooting a Boss Shotshells, 3inch number 4, 28 gauge, guarantee you.
Brandon Cerecke: I wish you were coming to my marsh because now that you’re not going to go, I’m not going to go because it’s going to be 65 and sunny, we’d still kill stuff out there, but it’s not quite duck hunting weather for me yet.
Ramsey Russell: No, I’m rolling, I’m just glad, I had really thought I was going to go way the heck up through Canada to get there, but to save 7 hours travel and get to come through here, no brainer. I drove through the night, slept 5 hours in my truck last night, woke up and just kind of like, I don’t know what you call it, I wake up in the parking lot or the field, vacant lot out in front of me is just absolutely loading up with Canada geese.
Brandon Cerecke: How did that happen?
Ramsey Russell: I don’t know, lucky, I guess. Right in the middle of downtown somewhere, I don’t know where it was, right in the middle of just a big metropolitan area.
Brandon Cerecke: They were probably all banded too.
Ramsey Russell: Probably were. Thank you all for taking time to meet today, thank you for lunch, Zach. Man to come back and walk into the new Boss Shotshell store and even to see how you’ve grown here at the old manufacture it is just unbelievable and it seemed like just yesterday, but then again, it was a couple of years ago.
Brandon Cerecke: That said, we’re still making everything out of 40 by 60 building and it’s really kind of cool. Everyone says that, they told me this back when we were doing a bunch of GM work, Brandon, we need more building, we need a bigger building, I said bullshit, you just need to figure out a way to get stuff in and out quicker. And some of the different group of guys like Brandon, we need more space out here, I said bullshit, just get better at getting stuff made, don’t have to worry about it then, it won’t sit around the floor as long, get it out.
Ramsey Russell: Real American stuff.
Zach Meyer: Appreciate it.
Brandon Cerecke: Thank you, Ramsey.
Ramsey Russell: Man, look Brandon Cerecke, Zach, thank you all very much. Folks, thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere live from Boss International Headquarters, absolutely premium unleaded. See you next time.