Growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore until he was 8 years old, taught Eric Werner that the outdoors were magical! He caught crabs and minnows on the shoreline, watched all the birds and mammals raise their young, and made every turtle and snake he could catch his pet. His parents weren’t always amused. In 1968 he moved with his family to the western shore where his love of animals and the environment continued to grow. He raised pigeons, had a pet groundhog, and raised countless baby birds and rabbits over the years.
After completing school where he was a competitive gymnast, he moved to Arizona with a friend for 2 years. He never could walk past a rattlesnake without catching it. Then he followed his high school sweetheart to West Palm Beach, Florida. Handling lizards and the occasional baby gator became the norm. It didn’t take long for him to figure out that Kelley was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, so on April 27th, 1984 they were married. Three short years later their wonderful daughter was born…..on April 27th! And if that wasn’t enough, in 1991, in the living room, their incredible son Stephen was born! Amazing but true! April 27th is now known as Werner Day to all their family and friends. In between children, Eric acquired Rascal, a baby raccoon that he saved after drowning during a horrific rainstorm. This was Kelley’s first experience with a baby wild animal and to say the least, it was amusing over the next 4-5 months. Raising a baby Raccoon at the same time as 4 kittens turned out to be quite an eye-opener for her.
Eric and Kelley made the decision to move back north, to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, in 1992. Working out of a converted barn behind the house gave Eric the ability to be a stay-at-home Dad. Living on an 80-acre farm located directly on the famed Chesapeake Bay offered him the ability to immerse the kids in his passion for the outdoors. The ¼-mile walk to get the mail became a daily adventure for the 3 of them. Snakes, turtles, bugs, and deer became the norm when most youngsters their age were playing with toys and watching TV, they were learning about everything around them. They would always surprise Kelley with the things they had found, not all of them pleasing to her. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting her just ask her about the 4’ tall swan she found in her tub or the day Stephen announced that Daddy had gotten him a tarantula.
The year 1999 changed everything for Eric. That was the year he passed his Federal Falconry Test and became a licensed falconer. He now holds the title of Master Falconer and loves to fly his red-tailed hawk for his friends and family. Watching him work with a trained raptor is a sight to behold!
In 2000 a friend brought him a 3-day-old fawn after hearing about his wildlife work. For the next 4 months, Bamboo was a regular fixture on the farm. She was raised with their English Springer Spaniel and their German Short-Haired Pointer so, in her mind, she was a dog. She slept with them during the day in the dog bed, on the front porch. She ate dry dog food out of the bowl with them at dinner time. The kids will tell you that being awakened on a Saturday morning, in your OWN room, by a deer licking your face is the best alarm clock, ever! She was never kept in a pen and was always allowed free roam of the house when she walked in. Watching a deer squat like a dog was one of the funniest sights they had ever seen. She was always a wild animal and eventually stopped coming by on a regular basis but the interactions and pictures she left them with will last forever.
Eric and Kelley are empty nesters now that the children have moved away and have lives of their own. Stephen is married and a Staff Sargent in the Marines with 3 beautiful children. Danielle is a published professional Photographer living wherever the wind takes her.
The adventures will never stop, though. There are more eagles to be rescued, fish to be caught and baby birds to be raised. All of this is to be shared with others, new friends and old. I hope that you are one of the lucky ones who get to have a real Eastern Shore Experience with a man who has a passion for the life he leads.