Ellerbe hunter combats ‘ignorance’ with compassion

Caulder uses a mix of family, faith to hunt and rescue animals

By Kevin Spradlin

Tessie Caulder shot her first buck, an eight-pointer, about an hour before sunset on Oct. 6 along the Pee Dee River near Cordova.

Her boyfriend, Scott Dycus, took a photo of Caulder holding the deer’s head by its antlers in the back of a pickup truck. Caulder posted the picture to her personal Facebook account. And after the expected congratulations from many, all hell broke loose.

Photo by Scott Dycus Tessie Caulder proudly displays this 8-point buck taken on Oct. 6, her first buck. She's been hunting since she was a child.

Photo by Scott Dycus
Tessie Caulder proudly displays this 8-point buck taken on Oct. 6, her first buck. She’s been hunting since she was a child.

More than 130 comments later — including personal attacks from someone in Australia — Caulder remains an unapologetic hunter and provider for her family. She can sympathize with Outdoor Channel television show co-host Eva Shockey, who legally harvested a black bear in Hyde County, N.C., a few days ago. The bear weighed in at 510.2 pounds. Like Caulder, Shockey shared a photo of her harvest. And the threats began almost immediately. Shockey has more than 660,000 followers on her Facebook page. Thousands of verbal barbs and threats came in.

Caulder can relate. Of her more than 4,900 friends, many are hunters — but there are dozens, if not hundreds, of animal advocates that cover the spectrum between compassionate and ignorant. Many offered Caulder their own opinions of her achievement, or lack thereof.

As for opinions, Caulder said everyone has ’em, and “if you don’t wanna hear mine, don’t give me yours.”

The Richmond County native and owner of Aunt Tessie’s Pet Boutique, located at 195 Highway 74 West in Rockingham, said she is not a trophy hunter. What is taken down by in the field — in this case her first hunt with a black powder Thompson/Center muzzleloader — goes into the freezer and ultimately, she said, on her grill.

“This was actually my second buck I had actually shot at in my life,” Caulder said, “but the first one that had come into my corn pile. I’m a nervous hunter. My adrenaline pumps so bad. I throw up after I kill one. I was in tears. I was happy, I was crying. We were meat huntin’ that day.”

The deer provided 137 pounds of meat and will feed her family through Thanksgiving, Christmas and into 2015. But some Facebook friends chose to focus on their own beliefs instead of Caulder’s.

“A lot of people involved in PETA (are) vegans,” Caulder said of a group of people that choose not to eat meat. “They look at the harvest of any animal as the harvest of an innocent animal.”

Caulder said she was accused of a being a murderer — or close enough.

“If you’d kill an innocent animal,” one person wrote, “you would kill a human being.”

Through social media, people seem more prone to send such vicious attacks. Caulder doubts anyone would do it in person.

Facebook, she said, is “a coward’s way out.” Besides, “nobody’s gonna confront a woman that’s good with the first shot anyway.”

But Caulder looks at the big picture. In terms of conservation, game management and keeping humans traveling on area roadways safer, Caulder said she and her fellow hunters are doing the right thing.

“There’s a reason why every state has hunters for different animals in different seasons,” she said. “It’s to keep down the population. These people that are commenting on this stuff and making these harsh comments are just oblivious to how many car accidents (are caused by deer). They don’t look at the fact (that) many hungry people are being fed. I’m not out killing for the joy of a kill. I do my hunting because I want to fill my freezer up to get me through the next year.”

Caulder notes that the meat that is available to consumers in area grocery stores doesn’t come from animals who line up and volunteer to die.

“They die at the hands of human beings because other human beings are hungry,” Caulder said. “My deer took five to seven years to grow out in the wild. They aren’t grown in a matter of weeks. It’s a cleaner meat to me. It’s a safer meat.”

Besides, Caulder said, the conditions in which animals are slaughtered for mass consumption is largely unknown to the general public. But documentaries available online are eye-opening.

“If they had a video of how the animals are killed inside these slaughterhouses, they’d leave me alone,” Caulder said. “They’d start going after these people.”

For Caulder, hunting returns to her roots: family and faith.

“I feel like God has animals here for a reasons,” she said. “Dogs, cats, all the domesticated animals were put here to bring us love, companionship, joy. You just don’t walk into somebody’s house and see a deer sitting on someone’s couch. I was raised in the country. I was raise where we had chickens (and) goats. Everything we had served a purpose, down to our domesticated animals that we had for companionship. The deer serve a purpose, to me.”

There has been no negative impact to her business. She knows some of her customers aren’t hunters, and she avoids the subject when they’re around.

“I don’t mix my personal life in here at my shop, and they know when their animals are here … they get treated like children,” Caulder said.

People, she said, “they either love ya or hate ya. People love us. They might not love me, but they love what I do with their animals when I’m here. They’d hate me more if I messed up their dog’s hair.”

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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  • Jan Stevens

    Way to go girl !!!!

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