Over 30,000 Nova Scotians hunt deer annually; arguably, all of those hunters would’ve liked to have been in Bob Cote’s blind the day a magnificent buck deer approached it.

Cote had built a ground blind just off the side of a well used deer trail and was in it about 15 minutes when the buck walked up.  Cote saw right away it was a splendid deer and he shot it …. with his digital Nikon SLR …. capturing an image that might be the culmination of 10 years of wildlife photography.

As Cotes tells it, this was quite an adventure.  The deer got close and stopped, perhaps instinctively realising something was awry.  Before it was aware Cote was in the blind, he was able to take close up photographs, one of them the beautiful head on shot accompanying this column.

It was a feisty animal, Cotes says, and it wasn’t the typical situation where a deer realises humans are nearby and take off in a panic.  “I took nearly 40 photos before he actually pinpointed me,” Cote says.  “Then he stomped the ground and charged towards me.  After he got within 30 feet or so he stopped and stomped the ground again.  At that point he turned, jumped over a huge brush pile and was gone.”

The image of that belligerent buck deer, noble and so full of life, has been captured forever; and when I look at this wonderful photograph, I realise its image wouldn’t be preserved today if someone had been in the blind with a rifle instead of a camera.  It would then have become a meat animal, its head mounted, a few hunter-with-dead-deer photographs snapped, shown around, and eventually forgotten.

Sad isn’t it, that it’s much easier to go out and kill a deer than capture its image with a camera.  But that’s the way it is.

As for Bob Cote, he tells me he’s been capturing wildlife and outdoor scenery with a camera for some 10 years, preserving images he’s proud to have displayed at various venues in the Annapolis Valley.  “I found this was my destiny, photographing wildlife,” he says.  “I started out photographing anything that caught my eye but soon found taking pictures of people wasn’t for me.  I like shooting pictures of animals, flowers and beautiful scenery.”

In his early days Cote learned how to run newspaper presses at The Advertiser in Kentville and at its sister paper in Port Hawkesbury.  He returned to Kentville circa 1980 and worked at a local feed mill for 21 years until it closed.  It was around this period that he began to dabble with photography, a hobby he later turned into a full time occupation.  Today he carries his camera almost everywhere he goes.  “You never know when that special shot will appear,” he says.

A variety of Bob Cote’s photographs can be viewed at www.bobcotesgallery.ca.

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