Longtime northwoods journalist Sam Cook announces retirement

Photo courtesy Sam Cook
Photo courtesy Sam Cook

After nearly four decades writing about the woods and waters of northern Minnesota, Duluth News Tribune outdoors reporter Sam Cook has announced he is retiring. Cook has written numerous books, columns, and articles about adventures in canoe country over the years. He will continue to write a weekly outdoors column for the newspaper.

In his farewell, Cook said he has tried to simply tell good stories over the years.

“I think all of us want to be told stories, whether they’re about a 4-year-old catching a walleye with a Snoopy rod or the deep ties among hunters gathering at a deer shack in November,” Cook wrote.

Over the years, Cook’s reporting took him to the North Pole, Hudson Bay, Great Slave Lake, and Ellesmere Island. But many of his stories were set closer to home in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Superior National Forest, and Quetico Provincial Park, as well as northern Wisconsin’s Brule River and beyond.

In a series of remembrances about Cook also published by the News Tribune, northern Minnesota naturalists, photographers, and other well-known nature enthusiasts praised Cook’s down-to-earth personality, his in-depth and compassionate interviews, and his ability to pull his own weight on the trail.

“I’ve always said to folks that Sam is the perfect outdoor writer for the greater Duluth area. He is able to bridge the gap between the rod-and-gun set and the bike and binoculars crowd. And Northeastern Minnesota certainly has a bunch of both,” said Mark “Sparky” Stensaas. “His work ethic is amazing, too. I once went on a winter camping snowshoe/dog sled trip with Sam and some other folks. He was the oldest guy on the trip but most definitely the hardest worker.”

Last spring, Cook wrote a column about his annual lake trout fishing trip to Quetico early in the season with friends. They found good angling action and lots of solitude — and the camaraderie that Cook often celebrated in his work.

“Four days we spend in this primitive and idyllic way, listening to water slap rocks, listening to the saw whet owl sawing away behind camp, listening to the fire snap and hiss,” Cook wrote. “Four days when time stops and we live entirely with the rhythms of the land. Four days when each of us silently wonders how many more of these we will get.”

John Myers, the paper’s environmental reporter for many years, will take over as outdoors reporter after Cook departs.

Farewell party

The public is invited to an event for Sam Cook on May 10 from 5-8 p.m. in the Harborside Room at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

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