The Crippling Reality

© Boss Shotshells

This content is brought to you by Boss Shotshells as part of a Sponsored Content program. Ducks Unlimited played no role in the creation of this content.

The Bad: Too many birds are lost to crippling every single year in the U.S. Although that number is tough to pin down, one thing’s for certain and something we can all agree on: It’s far-far too many.

The Ugly: As waterfowlers and wingshooters go, that’s 100% on us.

The Good: Together, we can drastically reduce that number — a huge nugget of hope we should all celebrate. 

In a time when it seems like our hunting heritage is always under siege, imagine if we, as a community, commit to reducing that number of cripples. What would reducing it by even half look like? For one, it puts a significant number of birds on the nesting grounds each year. Now imagine what increased breeding success could mean. Maybe we’d get more than a single pintail and a few more scaup per day. Maybe mallard limits in certain regions could follow. Maybe the anti-hunting crowd will ease up a little — but we’re not holding our breath for that just yet. In the end, more birds for everyone would be a fantastic thing for our hunts, our legacies and our hopes for future generations. We all have to do our part and that starts with doing what’s right.

But how?

By changing the narrative. Rethink not only the way you’re hunting, but the tools by which you hunt. Start with a better shell than tired old steel, and we’re not just saying that because we’re a shell company. We’re saying this because it’s the truth, evidenced by the massive decrease in birds dying from lead poisoning after lead became outlawed. That’s proof the actions of the waterfowling community can make a huge difference without the government stepping in and telling us how to hunt. After all, sportsman were the original conservationists.

In a way, voluntarily walking away from lead was the right thing to do. But it came with a new set of consequences. Whereas we were poisoning less birds using non-toxic steel, the issue of crippling birds became a much bigger deal. Steel, no matter what size shot or the absurd speed it claims to reach, just doesn’t hit or penetrate nearly as well. And while the advent of heavier, denser non-toxic shot options was great, they cost an arm and a leg putting that level of lethality out of reach for most hunters. For years, we’ve had a new reality: Sure, we’re poisoning less but now we’re crippling more.

With copper-plated BOSS, we can change that reality. Nearly as heavy as lead and safe in classic barrels, it’s like the good old days are back in both premium performance and value. At BOSS, we only sell direct at That means there’s no paying retail middleman markups. Just premium shells shipped from our door to yours. For a few dimes more per squeeze, copper-plated BOSS kills like lead without shredding your wallet out in the process. That’s a win-win for your budget and the birds. 

With BOSS, start by getting honest with yourself about how you like to take birds. Paddles down and in the decoys? Or pass shooting at 40-plus yards? Most folks start with our 12ga. 2 ¾” Shorty #5, easily our most versatile load. Once you’ve thought long and hard about your common shooting scenario, screw in a choke. Most go with an IM or a full, depending on shooting distance.

Now, actually put it on paper. That’s real deal woodsmanship and we’d like to see the waterfowling community get way back into it. Pattern your shotgun and you’ll know exactly what it’s capable of at your chosen distance. If you find a few holes in your pattern, choke it down. If it’s too tight, open it up. Experiment and really perfect your pattern. You’ll shoot less and kill more, guaranteed. Only after you’ve patterned should you put copper-plated BOSS on the birds. That’s when you can start fine-tuning shell and shot size, but again most start with the BOSS Shorty. 

Next — and this one’s key — know your shot. We’re not just talking about saying no to skybusting. That’s amateur hour. We’re asking you to pull off a bird if you know the shot’s pushing your effective range. More birds will come, and you’ll reduce your number of cripples even more.

Last, we’d ask you marinate on what you’ve just read. Think about that number and how small changes in our collective thinking can really make a big difference for the birds. Consider joining a conservation organization like DU. And as always, don’t be afraid to reach out to us for help on either social media or through our website. The BOSSmen are here for you and the birds.

This content is brought to you by Boss Shotshells as part of a Sponsored Content program. Ducks Unlimited played no role in the creation of this content.