For those who missed season 17 of The Bachelorette, Hamilton native Blake Moynes stole the heart of American Katie Thurston, and the two got engaged in the season finale. The former wildlife manager turned wildlife conservation advocate is using his social media platforms and his nearly half-million followers on Instagram, to draw attention to the poaching crisis afflicting African wildlife.
“I understand the value I have with this platform and I’ve found a purpose for it that gives back, and that’s wildlife conservation,” he explains.
A quick glance at his Instagram (@blakemoynes), and you’ll find the self-described cat dad snuggling with his kitty, Bear, howling with his rescue dog, Koho—yes, named after the hockey stick brand—and posing with a hawk, a throwback to his time as a pest control specialist with Harris Hawks. However, it was at his family cottage on Mississagagon Lake, Ont., that his love for the outdoors and wild things began.
“My brother, sister, and I were always obsessed with wildlife and creatures. We would always catch so many things but we never had anywhere to put them. So, one day my dad had his friend up at the cottage and they created a sort of aquarium, where we were able to create our own ecosystem,” he said.
Dubbed the “critter catcher”, it became a temporary repository for studying the variety of creatures inhabiting the nearby lake.
“That’s what kind of brought me into what I am doing now. I’ve always been fascinated by animals,” he said.
For the past two decades, Moynes has spent nearly every summer at the cottage, exploring the nooks and crannies on the lake. This summer, he had a chance to share the Canadian cottage experience with his fiancée for the first time.
“Cottaging is a big part of my life and always will be, and Kaitie fit right in,” he shared. “We went out on the boat and I showed her all of the spots on the lake that I like to go to for fishing, and places like a bay where I see snapping turtles.” The two also went ATVing and took a dip in the rapids on Marble Lake.
Like a lot of cottagers, Moynes and his family have annual traditions. For the past five years, they have been hosting a day-long bass fishing tournament.
“My dad actually came up with it and he takes care of the food for the weekend,” Moynes explained. The event brings together family and friends and culminates with a big dinner at the end of the day.
When asked what’s next for the reality television alum, “things have started to take off and I have some really cool things coming up in October.”