Blake, a passionate outdoorsman who served as the province’s wildlife director, died Friday at the age of 51.
Despite his high-profile position in the province, the Pasadena resident was “one of us,” says Gord Follett, editor of Newfoundland Sportsman magazine.
“Frustrated by many political decisions involving wildlife in recent years — and despite having his hands tied in many respects — he continued to fight for the best interests of outdoor enthusiasts,” Follett wrote in a post about Blake.
Follett first met Blake almost 20 years ago through their work at the Sportsman and the Department of Wildlife. Since then, Blake has written about hunting and conservation countless times for the magazine.
“He was as passionate about wildlife and the outdoors in general as anybody I know, and he was very well respected,” Follett he told The Telegram.
“Even when ‘off duty,’ John spent a considerable amount of time in the outdoors, where his hunting ethics and expertise were second to none. And he loved a good hunting challenge, which is why he became an avid and expert bow hunter.”
For the media, Blake was a go-to contact for all things wildlife related, from ptarmigan to polar bear behaviour. Very recently, he spoke about wolf/coyote hybrids on the island, penning his own piece for the Sportsman.
“I have no problem admitting that John Blake probably forgot as much about hunting as I’ll ever know. Oftentimes, when I was looking for advice about something new I wanted to try, such as coyote hunting, I’d call or email John, who always put me on the right track,” Follett said.
“Like all outdoors people who knew him, I’ll remember John Blake as a very knowledgeable and down-to-earth outdoorsman with an incredible passion for wildlife and the outdoors in general. He was always more than willing to help anybody and was constantly encouraging outdoor involvement, particularly by our youth.
“The outdoors of Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t lose a good one in John Blake, we lost a great one.”
Along with the outdoors community, Blake will be mourned by his wife, children, step-children, mother, brother, sisters, in-laws and large extended family. His funeral will be held in Corner Brook Wednesday.
In his words
An excerpt from John Blake’s most recent piece in Newfoundland Sportsman magazine:
"Living an outdoor lifestyle and hunting and angling is, quite simply put, good for you. It’s good for your spirit, your mind, your physical well-being, and has been shown to help people relax and lower blood pressure. In a world where everything moves so fast and needs to be done so quickly, teaching your child to hunt and fish can help them connect to the outdoors and teach the to slow down and enjoy simple moments in nature. Watching a squirrel racing around a tree; looking up at a mature aspen tree as it trembles sweet rustling music in the breeze; hearing a loon call its mate; watching a brace of black ducks dip toward your decoys... such simple experiences, yet so powerful in their ability to engender intense emotions and leave nature and a desire to experience more"