When I was a kid, you could take your deer tag into the principal’s office and get an excused absence on the opening day of shotgun season.


That’s the one I can’t wait to tell my grandkids. The classic old-man story that’ll put them in awe of their grandpa, relishing a time when things were simple and authentic. Back when you had to choose between checking Yahoo! email or talking on the phone because the dial-up internet ran on the same line. Back when you knew your neighbor by name, and used his fence to identify the property line instead of the onX app. Back in the Midwest in the mid-90’s, when men were men and Amazon just sold books. Yeah, that’s what I’ll tell ‘em.

My own grandpa, or “Papa” as we called him, had plenty of stories, and provided us grandkids with plenty of memories to boot. He had one of those woven covers on the bench seat of his pickup. The kind that were rough and dirty, like re-used bailing twine, and smelled like a grease gun. You could slap it on a summer evening and see the dust from a hay field or a fall harvest rise into the warm sunlight before settling on the floorboards. During deer season, that same bench seat cover held batches of cheap brown work gloves, bags of Kit-Kats, and a gray box or two of Super-X hollow point rifled slugs. It also held a box of .22 Win Mag year-round, just in case a coyote needed reckoning with.

Ryan Kirby Winchester .22 Box Artwork

Winchester ammo played a large part in these memories. Not because of fancy technology or the research a ballistics engineer put into the rounds. We used it because it worked. It was reliable and familiar, and they sold it at Wal-Mart and the hardware store. That’s why farmers do pretty much everything – they can count on it, like the changing of the seasons and the sayings in the Farmer’s Almanac.

This year, Super-X celebrates 100 years. That’s a lot of bench seats and dusty dashboards to have ridden on. Generations of hunters have relied on it. Countless animals have been taken with it. Millions of memories have been made with it. In a world that changes in seconds and technology that moves increasingly faster every day, it says something to have been around for a century.

"As I bounced around on my grandpa’s bench seat, digging around for another half-frozen Kit-Kat during November’s gun season, I had no idea that three decades later I’d have art featured on the Super-X commemorative packaging."

That I’d be sketching the same animals we were hunting to go on boxes of Winchester ammo. Ammo that was destined to ride the same roads and shoot the same shots that we were. It’s a cool thing to be a part of, and I’m glad it’s all worked out the way it did.

And if those grandkids want to see the art for themselves, just gimme a minute, I have a dusty old box saved in my studio that they can see for themselves. Because I doubt Instagram will still be around then.


Ryan Kirby Winchester Ammo BuckshotRyan Kirby Winchester BuckshotRyan Kirby Winchester Powerpoint box artwork

Comments (3)

Sutter Illinois

Dennis Wollbrink

Your writing made me smile a smile that hasn’t touched my heart in a long while. Thank you..Made me visit visit my own grandpa and hunting stories, visit my youth, stories with my sons and some grandkids coming up. Beautiful art work Ryan

Dennis Wollbrink

Your writing took me back to my younger days, when life was less hectic and more about family. I’m from southeast Missouri. Thank you!

Mike Elfrink