Origin Story:

Bringing a new product to market during a pandemic is no easy task. Add in the phrase “rocket science” and it becomes that much more difficult. It took a village. This is the story of the 6.8 Western.

Who is: Oliver Winchester

XPR: Extreme Hunter

WHAT DO I THINK?…

Perspective can be a funny thing. Often times it can be full of opinion, personal preference and occasionally a dash of speculation depending on who you talk to. But, perspective can also be extremely valuable. I seek out other peoples perspectives on just about everything in life – because I’m constantly trying to learn and evaluate, but mostly because I feel like it helps me make the right call when it comes to making good decisions on stuff. So, let’s hope that my perspective on the shiny new 6.8 Western helps you make the right call.

Let’s start with my OPINION shall we? It’s not very often that a new product comes out and really grabs my attention. It seems like for years we’ve fallen into this rhythm of “new” isn’t really new, it’s just a different version of the same old mousetrap – fighting for a place in a space that’s already occupied by who knows how many other products. That is not the case with the 6.8 Western. I believe that up until now when it comes to any calibers long range hunting capability we have had no choice but to adopt calibers that aren’t really long range hunting calibers at all – sure they’re long range shooting calibers – but not hunting calibers. With that, we’ve brought them into the hunting realm simply because that’s all that existed. Some of them are a bit on the light side, some hit the shoulder to hard and some might just be too heavy to lug up the damn mountains – but that’s all we had until now.

As for my personal preference I really like when a specific product is designed for a specific purpose. To say it differently, I’m not much of a generalist…”sure it’ll work…but…” doesn’t really cut it for me. The 6.8 Western is a purpose built design based on improvements to an age old proven caliber – the .270. The pulled back shoulders allow the caliber to push elongated heavier bullets downrange at incredible ballistic coefficients with extreme accuracy – all in a short action rifle that isn’t too heavy to lug up those damn mountains…ah, those damn mountains again. See where I’m going with this? It’s all about the right tool for the right job – and for me the 6.8 Western checks a whole heck of a lot boxes so far across the various hunts I’ll be beating it up on – including midwestern whitetails – so check, check and check.

And finally, my speculation. Here’s what I can say: If you haven’t already added a 6.8 Western to your arsenal you better jump on that STAT because Winchester cut out the center of the bullseye with this one.

History of Innovation: Winchester

Does the 6.8 Western stack up?

THE ENERGY EFFECT:

I’ll start off by clearly stating this up front: each one of the following calibers has its place in the world. Because they’re similar in stature and service I’m specifically talking about the 6.8 Western, the 6.5 PRC and the 270 WSM. The latter of which happens to be one of my all time favorite calibers. So what’s the big deal with the 6.8 Western? For me it comes down to energy on target at distance – and that’s where the 6.8 Western seems to be the clear winner. So, I’m only going to talk energy here and not all the factors that go into energy.

 

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Humanimal's: Behind The Mind

6.8 Western Ammunition Launch

Casey and Arron sit down with Jason Gilbertson and Ben Frank to talk more in depth about the 6.8 western and the “Rocket Science” that went into developing this cartridge.

THE REAL TEST.

It’s hard to believe that a guy raised in Pittsburgh who now lives in Michigan has hunted and taken more big old mature Alaskan Yukon moose than elk by a wide margin. It’s probably even harder to believe that because I’m tied up in the backcountry of Alaska or the Yukon from about the last week of August until the second week of October every year that I’ve never even hunted elk!

I have a bad habit of going on “kicks”. Currently I’m in the middle of a few of them – first up and always ongoing – I’m on a mission to try and catch at least 1 of every species of trout in the world on the fly…so that’s going to take a hot second to finish. Next up, I’m back on the whitetail train…I strayed from my ways for a few years there and got pre-occupied chasing various other critters, but it’s something I always come back to – big old gnarly ancient whitetails – I just love them. I already ticked the box on a spot n’ stalk muley with a bow – but now see, I’m finally on to elk. It took a while, but I just had to break it down in my head the right way…and here’s how I did it : It’s basically like turkey hunting for giant red meat mammals with badass antlers deep in the backcountry (where there’s often trout)…so, it should go without saying that I swung myself pretty quickly when I put it that way.

The year 2020 is now the proud owner of the following : Kobe Bryant’s passing, a global pandemic, the Pentagon’s release of a UFO video, massive shortages of toilet paper, ridiculous drive through birthday parties, murder hornets, Tiger King, zoom meetings with people that most likely aren’t wearing pants (this actually happened multiple times) and my very first elk hunt…ah yes…an elk hunt. So I’m jacked up and ready to go – it’s been a long year for everyone – so let’s make the most of this fall and enjoy life the way it was meant to be – outside.

 

"it's either a slammer of a hunt or it's quite possibly the most boring hunt"

3 Tips for Hunting Elk After the Rut

Hunting elk after the rut can go one of two ways: it’s either a slammer of a hunt or it’s quite possibly the most boring hunt you’ve ever been on in your life. For elk, the rut can be a treacherous time. It’s full of everything we as hunters dream of – the bugling, the chasing, the fights and the breeding…but man can it be hard on bulls. So for the old wiley warhorses of September, there’s a perfectly good reason to go into hiding, recuperation. Water, food and rest and are the main things an old bull purposefully seeks out after the long rut winds down.

1. Water

Reliable sources of water are critical to where a post rut bull decides to call his home. After all the stress of the rut, he needs security and as much of a “sure thing” as he can get…

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OCTOBER 21, 2020

Chris Keefer

The year of Covid-19 and the year of the 6.8 Western. It was on this date that I arrived in Utah for a hunt that I had been looking forward to for years. It was a trip of firsts for me, it would be my first Mule Deer hunt, it would end up being the first mule deer kill with the 6.8 Western caliber and it would be the first time I set foot back in the Uinta Mountains without my good friend Ernie. Ernie had passed away 2 years earlier and I couldn’t bring myself to go back to those places that we had spent so much time together. He taught me so many things in those mountains and here I was about to enter the unknown without him…. More on that later.

When I first arrived the juices were flowing, I had been involved with the marketing and had known about this product from Winchester and Browning  for a long time but I had not had a chance to see how it performed so first thing I needed to do was head to the range with JG from Winchester and Rafe from Browning. When I say range, being from Pittsburgh and now residing in Michigan, I mean like 200 yards of open ground which is hard to come by. When they say range apparently you just head out to the dessert and start off at 400 yards! I was slightly intimidated having spent most of my life in tree stand and the remainder of my gun time from a cushy blind over a corn field so right out the gate the nerves where kicking in. PLINK! Nailed it….300 yards with the Leupold dialed in thanks to the fellas that shot earlier…PLINK! Nailed 400 yards…PLINK! Nailed 600 yards…. And then BOOM…. wait for it, wait for it. Yea I missed. So, we ended the day with much deserved ribbing and much love coming from everyone that was standing behind me. I will say it was impressive to see the .68 performance at that range and what most impressed me was the recoil of the gun, there was virtually none and I was shooting a Winchester XPR out of the box….Keep scrolling, I’ll get to the rest after the video.

Moving on, time to hunt and time get settled in on the Mule deer of dreams. We spent the first few days glassing from a distance and getting a feel for what I was looking for. It was 4:35 am when the alarm clock went off that day and as I stepped out of my tiny little log cabin, I noticed something very apparent…it was cold, and it had snowed…a lot! What the video didn’t really show, was after about 3 hours of complete misery and fingertips about to fall off… (Why would I wear gloves with fingertips seems to make too much sense) At this point the cold is now blistering my face and he was bedded at about 280 yards. The one rule I had told the guide was I did not want to shoot him laying down so as soon as he stands, we can roll thunder but not until then. Seemed like a good idea at the time, 1 hour and 20 mins later and down three fingers to frost bite he finally stood up.

I had never shot out west with a gun before, so my mind was racing between which dope to use, how the scope was calibrated, what range he was at. Finally, I just went back to the ole’ instincts held a hair high on his front shoulder and Boom!

Walking up on this giant in velvet was one of the best I have ever had, it was a new experience for me, and I was so proud to be shooting this caliber for the first time. I had seen drawings, heard from the experts from both Winchester and Browning on what they were building and how they were building this and then all of a sudden, I was standing over my first Mule deer ever and I used the 6.8 western to do so, it was one of the coolest deer I have ever had the blessing to take. The story doesn’t end there though…

After waiting for a few days, it was finally time to go but I had one last mission. I had to make a stop in Salt Lake at Ernie’s grave. I had been dreading it, but I was also excited to talk with my old friend again and after about an hour visit it didn’t disappoint. I shared my first adventure in those mountains without him and told him how impressed he would be with the new 6.8 caliber and we caught up on 2020 as a whole…I imagine he has just laughing at me trying to explain the political climate and pandemic all in one breath. When I left there, I started a new tradition, I left Ernie the spent cartridge from the first Mule Deer ever killed with a 6.8 western on the left and on the right, I left a full cartridge waiting for me to be taken into the wilds of Utah for another incredible adventure.

To me the 6.8 Western is more than just an incredible cartridge

"shooting a buck in velvet is likely on the bucket list of nearly every single one of them."

Why Bucks have Velvet in the Winter

If you were to take a survey of deer hunters in the US, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that shooting a buck in velvet is likely on the bucket list of nearly every single one of them. Finding success in this feat is an entirely different story. Though some states offer a season early enough to present a hunter with the opportunity at a buck still in velvet most hunters will go a lifetime without ever being presented this opportunity. That being said, It seems that every year we see a picture of another successful hunter in October or November who’s knocked down a buck still holding onto his velvet.

So why do some bucks hold their velvet throughout the season while the rest rub trees and shed theirs as the season changes and breeding season approaches?

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