Dave Sherwood's wife, Grace Price Sherwood '01, was looking through car advertisements when she saw a notice, headlined "Your Dream Job," and passed it over to her husband. After reading the ad,for a full-time outdoor writer for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel,Sherwood '00 was sold on the spot.
%988%left%Despite having no previous newspaper experience, the Colby history major was hired; the executive editor was particularly impressed by Sherwood's list of 100 story ideas, many of which have since found their way into the newspapers.
And the hire worked out pretty well. Just a year into the new career, Sherwood was honored with the Bob Drake Young Writer's Award, one of the Maine Press Association's top honors. The judge for the contest, who is from Virginia, said, "I would not have expected to select an outdoor writer for a writing honor, but David Sherwood surprised me. ... Dave's initiative goes beyond just the enthusiasm he shows for his work." She asked, "Should anyone have that much fun working?"
After more than a year on the outdoors beat, Sherwood is more convinced than ever about the "dream job" part. He conveys an infectious delight in what he does, responding to word of a promising wolf sighting in far northern Maine, for instance, with a succinct, "Let's go."
He takes a fresh approach and is impatient with the idea that there's an inherent conflict between sportsmen who hunt and fish and those who prefer to take in the outdoors by canoe and kayak, binoculars and snowshoes. "Why shouldn't you do it all?" he asked. "Maine is an amazing place, with no limits on the experiences you can have."
In print, he practices what he preaches. In his very first piece, Sherwood described standing above the Kennebec River in Waterville with a striped bass enthusiast who said, "I've seen fish down there that would scare you",and then proceeded to hook a 20-inch striper, then another that was 45 inches long.
Sherwood has gone birding and paddled with sea kayakers. He's written about duck-decoy carving and ice fishing, accompanied snowmobile maintenance crews and divers in Moosehead Lake studying lake trout eggs. He's tasted fiddleheads and clams, and he shows no sign of running out of new topics. One high point was accompanying a Maine team to New Jersey for the "World Series of Birding." (They finished a respectable seventh.)
Sherwood says he likes to emphasize celebration of the outdoors rather than follow the controversies that are the staple of much newspaper journalism. Yet he doesn't shy away from such disputes, covering the illegal introduction of bass into the famed Rangeley Lakes watershed and disagreements over stocking of alewives in northern lakes.
"I don't have any mundane topics," he said. "I get to write about what I like to write about, which is a rare privilege."
Sherwood grew up in Connecticut and in Maine,. His dad showed him how to hunt and fish in the Maine woods. During summers in Spain, where he visited family, he also spent time on salt water. "I actually have more extended family in Spain than I do here,more cousins than I can count," he said.
He earned his Maine Guide license as an undergraduate, then decided to stay in Maine, settling in Bowdoinham. He earned his Coast Guard captain's license and started a saltwater guiding service on Casco Bay. He worked for L.L. Bean for three years as a catalogue writer, and, other than freelance magazine articles, journalism was a new field for him.
Now, Sherwood produces two weekend pages and a mid-week page as well. He said he learned about outdoor rhythms while rowing crew at Colby: "Getting up at four or five in the morning isn't something you expect to do at college, and it isn't easy." But the acquired discipline is something he still values, even though he hasn't stroked an oar since graduation. "We'd come back to the dining hall and were the first ones there. It was great to feel you'd accomplished something before most people even wake up."
,Doug Rooks '76