But in a period of a little more than two weeks, Elsey's season went from dull to dynamite with a pair of great bucks taken on separate mobility-impaired hunts.
A native of Goose Creek who had a leg amputated at age 16 in 1982 from a football injury, then survived a fire-truck accident in 2002 that left him in a coma for four weeks with a broken neck, Elsey took an 8-point, 19 1/2-inch-wide buck last Nov. 14 in a special hunt in the Ernest F Hollings ACEe Basin National Wildlife Refuge. On Dec. 2, he killed an 18-inch 8-pointer on a special hunt at Tibwin in McClellanville.
"To kill two nice bucks in the span of two weeks is something that I have only ever dreamed about and never really thought would happen," said Elsey, who started a local chapter of Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry five years ago that has provided more than 11,000 pounds of venison to needy Lowcountry families.
Elsey's first buck came on a mobility-impaired hunt in the ACE Basin sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He had drawn a stand called "Eagle Island" – an 8x8 structure covered with camo cargo netting overlooking a field. With the sun over his right shoulder at around 4:45 p.m., he had tied his jacket to the netting on that side of the stand to provide a little more shade, then moved his chair to the left side of the stand. He had grabbed his binoculars and a bottle of water when he noticed something at the far end of the field. Through his field glasses, he was a buck standing in tall grass, about 20 yards beyond the end of the field. He picked up his .308, finally found the buck in the scope and dropped him on the spot with a neck shot.
"I sat there another hour-and-a-half before I ever walked to where he was," Elsey said. "It was my first trip to this particular mobility-impaired hunt and did not want to do anything to jeopardize my chances of coming back. When I (got) to him, I'm not sure anyone could have been happier in this world."
The buck, which weighed 155 pounds, was the biggest taken on the hunt.
Eighteen days later, Elsey was on a mobility-impaired hunt sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and S.C. Department of Natural Resources at Tibwin near McClellanville. He drew a blind covered with burlap that overlooked a field about 300 yards long. He sat for several hours without seeing anything before a doe darted out in the field, 50 yards in front of him. He couldn't get his crosshairs on the doe, and when he heard a branch crack to his right, he stopped trying. A buck appeared, trotting along, trailing the doe. Elsey made a noise to try and stop the buck so he could get off a shot, and when the buck finally slowed down, he dropped him with what he thought was a neck shot but later admitted was "Texas Heart Shot" – through both hams and breaking him down. He finished the buck off with a shot through the shoulders.
When he got to the buck, he found a fine, 168-pound buck that was a mainframe 10-pointer, but had two points broken off, making it an 8-pointer.
See other bucks killed this season in the Bag-a-Buck Contest photo gallery!