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Dakota Chrystal Takes a Trophy Elk with the 97D Rifle

Story by Dakota Chrystal - Fall 2008
  We started out that morning and hiked down from the continental divide and saw a group of elk 350yds away. We walked down just a little bit more to get a closer shot. They smelled us and ran, we ran after them to head them off in the canyon. When we got down there it was too late, they were gone. Slowly we hiked back up and sat at the rock my dad shot his elk from. We waited until 9:00 am. The walk back up to the four wheelers was all up hill. Thankfully I was carrying the light 6.5BRM (Model 97D Single Shot Rifle).   
  We left thinking we should come back around 2:00 pm. When we got back to camp, we made breakfast and started to pack our stuff to setup a spike camp and stay the night. We left at 1:00 and got to the top of the mountain. We arrived at our spot to set up a spike camp. We were done setting up and my dad and I walked down to glass the area where we had been seeing elk. A blizzard rolled in on us, we slowly made our way back up to the tents using the GPS. Once the snow let up we glassed the next ridge over and Jeff spotted the elk. We ran down to the bottom of the canyon knowing they were coming up to the spot my dad shot his elk at. We waited and saw a spike at 150yds then big Blondie stepped out. I waited a little bit until the bull bent down to get a drink from the stream. My dad ranged him 150yds. There I sat, I calmed down took a deep breath in and ''BOOM," he stumbled and ran.  He went behind a tree then stepped out again. Another shot at 345yds piled him up in his tracks. When we field dressed him we found the first shot was a high lung shot that took out both lungs.
  Thank you for building such a nice rifle - Dakota Chrystal
Travis Chrystal Elk Hunting with 97D Single Shot Rifle
Travis Chrystal Elk Hunt Landscape 6.5mm BRM Travis Chrystal Elk Hunt Fog and 4wheeler
Elk Hunting With 6.5mm BRM Comments by Eben Brown and Travis Chrystal
  It's well known that Elk are big boned and tough skinned. And and no matter which cartridge you shoot, it is recommended that you place your shot in the heart-lungs and avoid hitting the shoulder bones. The 6.5mm BRM has a 140gr bullet going about 2400 fps. This compares to the velocity of a 30-06 shooting a 190 gr. bullet and in that sense, it is a typical Elk load... The 140gr 6.5mm bullet has the same high (heavy) sectional density as a 190gr 30 caliber bullet that is common for Elk.
  Dakota's Dad is Travis Chrystal (see our Reviews Page) and he has knowledgeable experience hunting Elk with the 6.5mm BRM (as well as Antelope and Mule Deer). Here are Travis's comments on Dakota's Elk Hunt w/ 6.5 BRM...
  "I've shot a few elk with my 6.5 as well as my wife. The load my son used on this elk is the same load you have posted on your website for the 503 yard group I shot a few years ago. It just works so why change it. Having said that I do have a Hornady AMAX and Berger VLD load that I use as well but all Elk have been shot with the 140 Sierra Gameking over 38 grains of VV 160 with a CCI primer. The lung shot had full penetration. It slipped between 2 ribs so a small entry hole was observed and exited on the other side hitting a rib and leaving maybe a 2 inch exit hole.
  The shoulder shot was thought to enter the chest cavity because that shot folded him up and put him down. When we field dressed him we found no entry into the chest and I recovered the bullet in the shoulder. I just weighed it at 119 grains so it held together well.  Had the 2nd shot from the 6.5 hit behind the shoulder it would have penetrated and wrecked the heart - I've seen it already a few times on elk. I think the 6.5 is just fine for Elk out to 500 yards assuming you put the bullet where it needs to go.
  I could shoot the leg off of one with a 6.5 or 300 win mag and the outcome is going to be the same. I do think that if the shoulder shot was the only shot taken we would have maybe lost that elk. Had we taken that shoulder shot with a 300 win mag we would have had a higher chance for recovery. Still..... bad shot placement is the problem."
  "As far as his (Dakota's) elk story.......below are additional details:
  The elk were still in rut but tapering off. For 3 days prior to my son arriving in camp a friend of mine and I had been seeing elk daily up around 10,000 feet going to and from bedding in a small area. We had never hunted this area before so after a 4 day learning curve we thought we had their habits down pretty well. My friend and I both took bulls Friday morning and returned with my son on Sat. morning. The Elk seemed to have disappeared but we got back into them on Monday morning and decided to pitch the tents in this area. The snow started which we thought would get them moving early but that didn't prove to be the case. By early afternoon we were soaked to the bone, cold and hungry. His 6.5 BRM (97D Rifle) was completely iced up and covered with snow - thank goodness for the butler creek scope caps. Just as we were about to call it a night we spotted them coming out of some timber on the other side of the canyon and headed down to water. My son and I quickly dropped down the side of the canyon we were on trying to intersect them. Once we got setup for a shot they rounded the corner feeding right towards us but we were losing light fast. I spotted a spike bull and told my son to take him. When he didn't shoot I asked what the issue was and he responded "what about the blonde one over there". I put the bino's on him and he looked to be 5 point or better. My son took the shot, I saw bullet impact back and high then we watched him enter some trees and emerge on the far side. I ranged him at 340 yards. The 2nd shot was taken and hit the shoulder but piled him up." - Travis Chrystal
  Some Thoughts on Bullet Selection for Elk by Eben Brown
  The usual approach is to increase your bullet weight as your game gets bigger and tougher. This results in greater impact momentum and penetration. Beyond that, you can increase the toughness of your bullet by going with a bonded or partitioned core (like Swift Bullets). See our Free Tech Report on Bullet Selection. Another approach is the Berger Hunting Bullets for high initial penetration then expansion and fragmentation. We have a very impressive video you can watch on the Berger Bullets page. The superiority of the 6.5mm bullet diameter is a concept that's still new to many hunters. You can read more about it on our 6.5mm BRM Web Page. Scroll down when you get there.
  Many Thanks to Travis and Dakota Chrystal for sharing their experience and knowledge on this subject!
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