Hunting with a Classic — the .308 Winchester

The .308 Winchester is still a winner.

Hunting with a Classic — the .308 Winchester

As a young man, I met disappoint after watching the 1978 war drama “The Deer Hunter,” starring Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage. I enthusiastically picked up a copy on VHS after mining through a discount bin of used video tapes. I flipped over the box to read the summary and was impressed by the picture of De Niro carrying a Remington 700 BDL — a left-­hand model mind you. Filled with intrigue, I thought I had spent my hard-­earned dollars on an Academy Award-­winning film about an epic whitetail adventure. Oh, how wrong was I.

I’m often distracted from the tried-and-true while testing new introductions such as rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor and .300 PRC, but I’ve found my way back to the .308 Winchester. It’s a versatile cartridge whose case has been used as the parent for the .243 Winchester, 7mm-­08 Remington, .260 Rem., 6.5 Creedmoor and .338 Federal, among others. After 35 years of shooting, my conclusion is if you could only own rifles in one caliber, a strong argument can be made for the .308 given modern bullet technology.

I’m on a lifelong quest to try and take a deer in all 50 states, a Grand Slam I invented for myself. As I continued this pursuit in Kansas last fall, I was reminded why I love the .308.

.308 Winchester

Last year, I hunted a lot with a selection of new Savage rifles, including a 110 Lightweight Storm topped with a Bushnell Nitro 3-­12x44mm. The stainless action and adjustable stock are impervious to weather, affordable and as versatile as the .308. In Kansas, I hiked across a cut, slushy corn field to my stand at the corner and toughed out a bone-­chilling drop in temperature for three days. One morning, before the sun crested the trees, I saw antlers begin to creep out. I didn’t trust my eyes and pulled up a pair of binos to accurately identify the buck. I started counting to myself, one, two, four, six, eight … until I couldn’t believe I was still trying to count his points. He was a shooter. I thought to myself, You’re wasting time! He is not going to stand there forever! With his head turned away, I quickly picked up the Savage, zoomed up to 6X and shot a 165-­grain Barnes TSX (loaded by Federal Premium) into his shoulder — or so I thought. It sounded like a good thwack, but he turned and dove behind a tall pine tree. In that same moment, a group of deer took off up and over a hill into the trees. I imagined my buck was among them. Seeds of doubt around my shot grew. Did I get him?


Minutes later, I was horrified to only find a small drop of blood where he’d been hit. For more than an hour, the outfitter and I hiked and retraced each set of tracks until we couldn’t. Deciding to take a break and leave to fetch another searcher, we caught a whiff of the buck’s scent and saw him piled up in a thorn bush just under a pine tree. He had been just a few feet from where was shot. Relief and excitement ensued.


He was a non-­typical eight with a drop tine and a total of 16 measurable points — plus trash. It’s the most character I’ve ever found in a deer, especially one taken by a single shot. This hunt serves to remind me that the .308 Winchester is still a capable cartridge, especially now with improved bullet technology. The adventure contained all of the drama I had hoped to watch in “The Deer Hunter,” one worthy of an award. 

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Century Arms Introduces a Heavy-Duty AK Rifle

Chambered in 7.62x39mm with components machined from extremely durable S7 tool steel, a chrome-moly 4150 barrel and a carburized 4140 steel bolt.

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - 94 WINCHESTER

Gun Clips with Joe Mantegna - 94 WINCHESTER

Joe Mantegna talks about the origins of the 94 Winchester rifle.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

We look at the new shotguns from Armscor - the VR80 and the brand new bullpup VRBP100.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different. Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and deer; here's everything you need to know to make it work for you. Rifle

.350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Beckstrand - April 02, 2019

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and...

Crossbreed's new The Reckoning holster is a simple leather-Kydex combination with multiple points of retention adjustment and clip options. Accessories

Crossbreed's The Reckoning Holster

Eric R. Poole - May 13, 2019

Crossbreed's new The Reckoning holster is a simple leather-Kydex combination with multiple...

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of Mossberg, Tikka, Savage, Howa, Bergara, Weatherby and Remington. Rifles

Starter Rifles for Under $1000

Aaron Carter - May 09, 2019

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of...

See More Trending Articles

More Rifle

A specialized group from the U.S. Department of Defense has purchased an undisclosed amount of 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition from Hornady for its long-range sniper platform. Rifle

Department of Defense Chooses Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor Ammo

Guns & Ammo Digital Staff - April 29, 2020

A specialized group from the U.S. Department of Defense has purchased an undisclosed amount of...

The .308 Winchester is still a winner. Rifle

Hunting with a Classic — the .308 Winchester

Eric R. Poole - March 20, 2020

The .308 Winchester is still a winner.

Federal Custom Shop cartridge options now include 243 Win, 257 Roberts +P, 257 Weatherby, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5-284 Norma, 270 Win, 270 WSM, 284 Win, 7mm Rem Mag, 308 Win, 30-06 Sprg, 300 Win Mag, 300 WSM, and 338 Federal. Rifle

Federal Custom Shop Big Game Centerfire Cartridges

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 28, 2020

Federal Custom Shop cartridge options now include 243 Win, 257 Roberts +P, 257 Weatherby, 6.5...

Federal's new Hammer Down ammo is designed for optimal cycling and performance in the lever-gun platform. SHOT Show

Federal HammerDown Ammo Line – First Look

G&A Digital Staff - January 27, 2020

Federal's new Hammer Down ammo is designed for optimal cycling and performance in the...

See More Rifle

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now