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Sharing a life of adventure

No challenge is too great for this Houston couple

Created date

January 29th, 2014
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What do popcorn and chocolate sauce have in common?

It turns out they’re a black bear’s favorite snack. Just ask Jerry and Eileen Bennick. The Houston couple has been on three bear hunts since they moved to Trace in the fall of 2009.

“We’ve been on two bear hunts in New Brunswick, Canada, and one hunt in Ontario, Canada,” says Jerry. “In order to attract the bears, we fill 55 gallon drums with popcorn drizzled with chocolate sauce. The bears get so close you can practically kiss them.”

Unusual pursuits are nothing new for Jerry and Eileen, who once swam with sharks in the Bahamas. 

“We share a love of adventure,” says Eileen. “It’s been fun to have so many unusual experiences together.”

A passion for outdoor pursuits

Jerry and Eileen both hail from Michigan, where they developed a love of the outdoors. Jerry was a deer hunter, and Eileen went bow hunting with her dad.

“Hunting and outdoor pursuits have been a big part of our lives,” says Jerry, a former inhalation toxicologist. “We purchased five acres in Magnolia, [Tex.,] just north of Houston, after I retired.”

The couple acquired an assortment of animals—a miniature horse, a donkey, and a goat—before they purchased a llama.

“Llamas are like potato chips,” says Eileen. “You can’t have just one.”

At its peak, the couple’s farm was home to 42 llamas, many of which were shown at the Houston Livestock Show and the Texas State Fair.

In 2008, the couple began contemplating their next move.

“We received the Tribune in the mail and decided to visit Eagle’s Trace [the Erickson Living community in West Houston],” says Eileen. “Once we decided it was the right place for us, Erickson Realty and Moving Services made the transition easy. We sold our home in a week and used one of the recommended move managers to help us settle in. By 9:30 p.m. on our moving day, all the furniture was in place, the beds were made, the spices were put away, and the coffee pot was set to come on in the morning.”

Broadening their scope

Downsizing their living space gave Jerry and Eileen the freedom to expand their adventures.

“After we moved to Eagle’s Trace, Jerry was invited on a bear hunt in New Brunswick,” says Eileen. “I mentioned that I’d like to go along.”

The couple’s son-in-law, a weapons specialist in the U.S. Army, gave Eileen a few lessons in marksmanship before the couple headed north.

“I was the first one on the trip to shoot a bear,” says Eileen. “My daughter started calling me ‘Granny Oakley.’” 

Two more bear hunting trips to Canada followed, as well as several trips across the Pond to Ireland on deer and goat hunting excursions.

When they’re not chasing their next adventure, Eileen and Jerry enjoy catching up with friends at Eagle’s Trace, where Eileen is chairman of the community’s pet association.

“Who knows what the future holds?” says Eileen. “Every day has the potential for fun.”

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