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    Eric Pickhartz

    Eric Pickhartz is the Managing Editor of Wide Open Spaces, bringing a mix of outdoors enthusiasm and a journalism background to the site's content on a daily basis. His fishing experience began at a young age on Minnesota lakes, both frozen and thawed, and he has since used seasonal hunts and fishing trips as an excuse to become a better writer and editor. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, two sons, and Chocolate Lab.

    Ellen Fishbein

    Ellen is an adventurer, Second-Amendment enthusiast & Scuba diver who can’t get away from fish. (Seriously, there’s one in her last name). When not among aquatic creatures, she’s either finding new ways to eat them or exploring the country’s desert parks on foot. One of her dreams is to buy a large plot of land and create outdoor mazes for all who enjoy getting lost.

    Kris Hughes

    Kris Hughes is the Director of Content Operations at Wide Open Media Group, the parent company of Wide Open Spaces, Wide Open Country and Wide Open Pets. Kris’ professional background is in sports writing and managing blogs, but growing up in the Texas Panhandle he spent plenty of time as a kid fishing with his grandfather and cousins on the creeks of his family’s ranch land, and comes from an extended family of ranchers, cattlemen, and oil men going back generations. Kris currently resides in Austin, Texas and like almost all Central Texans, loves to explore the Hill Country and all the natural beauty surrounding the capital city.

Senior Writers

    Eric Nestor

    An Ohio Native, Eric Nestor is a lifelong outdoorsman, avid hunter, and has a deep interest in everything wide open spaces. If you cannot find Eric in the woods, he is usually nose deep in historical outdoorsman writings, and the like. Eric also has a degree in Environmental Geology, which gives him a distinct angle in regards to the outdoors. Eric prefers the primitive way of being an outdoorsman and is constantly researching and perfecting his craft.

    Craig Raleigh

    Craig Raleigh grew up hunting and fishing in New York State and Ontario, Canada. He has fished from the Merritt Dam in Cherry County, Nebraska to the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. His lifelong interest in everything outdoors garnered in him a deep respect and love for all things in nature. With a conservationist heart instilled in him by his father and grandfather, he lives for the chance to get outside and discover. He is a writer and author of two self-published books and has a keen photographic eye. He can sit in a tree from dawn to dusk, walk upstream for big Steelhead, hike the Niagara Gorge, or bike the St. Lawrence Seaway trail and tell you every detail.

    Brad Smith

    Brad Smith has been an avid outdoorsman all of his life. As a child, he started out fishing on the banks of the Eel and Tippecanoe Rivers in Northern Indiana to chasing muskies and other game fish all over the Midwest. During the winter, he spends every possible moment in a tree stand.His passion for hunting and fishing has led him to a life of being a lure designer, tournament angler, and an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America providing content for several publications and various websites. He also owns Walton Rods, a fly and traditional fishing rod company.

    David Smith

    While David has successfully worn a number of professional hats, one thing that has been a constant in his life has been a lifelong immersion in the outdoors, thanks to a father and extended family of hunters, anglers and woodsmen. Combining his writing and culinary skills with an enduring passion for hunting, fishing and foraging lead him to create Creative Sustenance, a wild edibles blogsite and soon-to-be-published companion cookbook. He resides in Wisconsin, a region peppered with forests, lakes and rivers and all of the good things they offer. You can contact David via the Creative Sustenance Facebook page.

    Travis Smola

    Travis Smola was born and raised in southwest Michigan. He has written stories covering just about everything for newspapers and magazines in Michigan, California, Nevada, Wyoming and Texas. After a brief stint in Wyoming, he moved back to Michigan to stay. He has been fishing for 25 years and hunting for 15 more. In 2005 he got into geocaching and is an extremely active member of the Michigan geocaching community. He is currently writing a book about his experiences in the GPS-oriented hobby.

    John McAdams

    John has hunted big game all over the United States as well as in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. He served on active duty in the United States Army for over 7 years and served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves in the Washington Army National Guard. John lives in the State of Washington with his wife where they enjoy taking advantage of all the outdoor opportunities available in the Pacific Northwest. His passion for the outdoors led him to create and Big Game Hunting Adventures in order to share his hunting experiences with others and to help them fulfill their hunting dreams.

    Chris Buckner

    Born and raised in North Carolina, Chris had a lot of help developing his enthusiasm for nature. Taught from a young age to shoot, hunt, and fish and he soon developed a love for the outdoors that continues to grow. Chris is a National Champion call maker with Buckner Custom Calls, winning the National Wild Turkey Federation’s call-making competition twice now for his crow calls.


    Johnny Certo

    Hailing from the Treasure State, Johnny has always had a special affection for the outdoors. After graduating from Montana State University with a degree in English Literature he has spent the last few years traveling around the country and writing for various outdoor websites. Johnny enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, and essentially any activity that takes place outside. When he's not writing he can be found strumming his mandolin by the river and contemplating the future.

    Matt Alpert

    Matt Alpert is a staff writer for Wide Open Spaces.

    Micah Sargent

    Micah Sargent grew up in the woods of north-central Pennsylvania and started hunting at the age of 12. Today, he pursues whitetail deer, wild turkeys, black bear, and small game with a rifle, shotgun, recurve bow and muzzleloader. When he is not hunting, Micah enjoys hiking, biking, and horseback riding with his wife and two young sons.

    Andy Van Loan

    Andy Van Loan was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, where he has fished and hunted since he was a young boy. An Armed Forces veteran, he has served multiple tours of duty in the Balkans and Afghanistan. As a graduate of the North American School of Outdoor Writing he continues to follow his passion of participating in and writing about outdoor pursuits and the shooting sports.

    Mateja Lane

    Mateja is an Austin transplant originally from Lake Tahoe, CA. She loves everything there is to do outdoors, loves to write and fix others' writing. Putting her passions together led her to work with the editorial team at Wide Open Spaces.

    Justin Hoffman

    Justin Hoffman is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, with a fishing specialty, based in Ottawa Ontario, Canada. He is a graduate of the North American School of Outdoor Writing and currently a field editor with Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine.A well-established freelance writer since 1999, Justin has publishing credits in many North American magazines and web sites. His photographic stock work also appears regularly.An avid bass angler, he spends much of his time working the heavy cover and shallow water in his favourite eastern Ontario lakes. Wildlife and hunting photography are other passions that keep him returning to the forest and fields week after week - in search of that next image and outdoor adventure.

    Jake Hofer

    Jake is a 22-year-old full-time student studying law enforcement and justice administration along with a minor in marketing. Hunting has always been a true passion for him. He's been fortunate to have a family that raised whitetail deer, which offered more opportunities to learn about the much desired trophy whitetail buck. The desire for hunting big bucks sparked when he was 8 years old harvesting his first 8-point buck with his dad. Since then, he's been trying to find ways to share success of other hunters increasing their odds of getting more opportunities to harvest the allusive mature whitetail buck. Jake found, a deer scent company that provides freshest deer attractant available.

    Matt Poe

    Matt is a writer and editor who would rather be out on the water than most anywhere else. Let's be honest, he writes and edits to fund his fishing habit. He blames his addiction on his dad, who kept taking him out perch fishing on Muskegon Lake in Michigan as a little boy. From there, it moved out onto Lake Michigan (aka "The Big Lake") for salmon and trout, and now Matt would rather spend most of his time out there. If he can find a way to be on or near water, he's going to do it. He also likes hiking, bowhunting, and small-game hunting. Heck, just send him outside, away from civilization, and life is good for Matt.

    Jesse Males

    Capt. Jesse Males is an avid fly fishing, snook snatching, kayak paddling, tarpon slaying, mountain hiking, manatee swimming fool from Central Florida. Over the years fly fishing has had a huge impact on his life and particularly on how he views the world we spend our time in. He's currently the owner and operator of as well as the online fly shop, The lifestyle that is called fly fishing has taken Jesse to some amazing destinations and has provided him with some amazing experiences in the wild. From chasing big salty critters in the Florida Keys, to roosters in Coast Rica, to small wild trout in the Carolinas, and all the way up to the high mountain cutthroat of Wyoming; Jesse Males has been blessed to experience fly fishing at its finest.

    Colton Bailey

    Colton was born and raised in small-town Midwest USA in the south central part of Illinois. At a young age, hunting and fishing quickly became some of his first loves. Starting with small game such as rabbits and squirrels with family, an obsession was created that now lures him into the outdoors every chance he gets to chase whitetail, waterfowl, and turkeys. With a degree in Business and a passion for hunting and fishing, he found himself working in the outdoor industry doing management/marketing and loving every minute of it. If you can’t find him, you can bet he's somewhere throwing out a line or sitting in a tree.

    Shannon Ratliff

    Shannon Ratliff comes from Maryland, but made her way to Texas Hill Country by way of Colorado. Growing up fly fishing, she enjoys all water-related activities, including water skiing even though she falls almost every time. Her love of grammar and nature led her to Wide Open Spaces where she now gleefully edits sentences about her favorite hobbies.

    Mike Reeber

    Born and raised in the northeast, Mike developed a passion for the outdoors during his early childhood. After harvesting his first whitetail at age 8, spending as much time in the woods or out on the water has been his way of life ever since. Whether he is bowhunting mature whitetails in the Northeast, dove hunting in Texas, or catching Mahi off-shore in Florida, Mike enjoys sharing his passion for the outdoors with those around him and on his website, He currently resides in Austin, TX.

    Nathan Unger

    Nathan Unger is an avid outdoorsman who grew up in the Deep South outside of Atlanta, Georgia, where his passion for hunting and fishing was instilled in him as a young boy. A graduate of the Grady College of Journalism, he especially enjoys blogging about the outdoors. Nathan, who is a college minister, and his wife, who is in graduate school, currently reside in Atlanta. Through his blog, Bulldawg Outdoors, and his hunting adventures on the East Coast, he hopes to encourage, educate and inspire others to continue their endeavors in the outdoors!

    Reid Vander Veen

    Reid Vander Veen grew up in small-town farm country in Iowa where he ran, swam, kicked, and sticked his way through every stream and forest he could find, spending nearly every waking minute outdoors. A self-taught hunter, picking it up as a teenager, Reid now enjoys pursuing game of all sorts, though his favorite is whitetail deer. Reid lives with his family in South Dakota and feels the closest thing to Heaven on earth is being 15 feet off the ground in a tree stand. He is currently on the Field Staff for RAKS Big Game Supplements and enjoys volunteering and being involved in his community.

    Dustin Prievo

    A career firefighter with the Baltimore City Fire Department and owner of a mobile DJ Business, DJ Prievo Entertainment, Dustin can be found in one of three places; work, home, or the outdoors. Growing up in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in Northern New York, hunting and fishing were a way of life. He hunts with a group and helps manage several farms in Maryland and spends his October and November each year traveling the Northeast to Midwest region hunting and filming for his outdoor team, Top Pin Outdoors. You may have heard some of his country music mixes on the workout app “Fit Radio” or his voice through the FM radio in the Central New York area, but now he’s here to share his stories and experiences with the people he loves the most, the outdoorsmen and women here at Wide Open Spaces.

    Jake VanDeLaare

    Jake VanDeLaare is a Michigan Native born and raised. Hunting and fishing has always been a part of his life. He has been taught at an early age about bass fishing and whitetail deer hunting from his Grandfather and Father. Jake has an interest in all things outdoors and technology oriented. He is always trying to find a way to make his outdoor seasons more successful using new technology and techniques or learning tried and true methods. He doubles as a computer programmer in Michigan when he isn’t on the lake or in a tree. Jake also loves to try new things constantly trying craft beers to pair with his wild game, learning how to fly fish, or spear fishing. When not working, fishing, or hunting Jake likes to learn about the outdoors to perfect his skills or workout. He currently has a Bachelor’s in Information Management and is working towards a second degree in Information Technology Management. He lives with his new wife in Southwest Michigan with their dog that likes to chase turkeys and ruin scouting trips.

    Ashley McElmurry

    Ashley McElmurry is a Houston native who has found herself in the heart of Austin, Texas. With a degree in Communication and English from Texas A&M University, there was no other perfect choice other than to pursue the creative career path of writing. You can find her writing funny anecdotes on her blog or writing about music and culture for MUD Magazine. When she isn't doing that, she is most likely spending too much time forcing her cats to snuggle, finding ways to eat Ramen for every meal and attending any venue that offers up live music and a good time.

    Troy Rodakowski

    Troy Rodakowski is an award winning outdoor writer and wildlife photographer from Junction City, Oregon.  He has been blessed to hunt and fish throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  Born and raised in the Willamette Valley, he has had the pleasure of hunting all of the big game species in the area as well as wetting his line in many of the waters throughout the land.Troy has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, outdoor radio and television programs. He is currently writing for Northwest Sportsman magazine, American Shooting Journal, Oregon Hunter, Washington-Oregon Game and Fish / California Game and Fish magazine, Bear Hunting magazine and several others. His travels have taken him around the world in which he has visited over 30 different countries where he has also enjoyed many outdoor adventures.  He also enjoys a full time job managing a vegetable seed company located in Junction City. Additionally, Troy serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association.With a strong belief in Christianity and family he gives all the glory of the outdoors to God and hopes to pass on his families many great traditions as well as the hunting heritage of our forefathers onto today’s younger generations.

    Wide Open Spaces Recipes

    Wide Open Spaces is constantly striving to share the best wild game and fish recipes available to our loyal readers. If you have a recipe you'd like to share, send it to for consideration!

    Anette Wachter

    Anette Wachter, aka 30CalGal, is from Seattle, WA, is married and has one four legged furry child named Kozmo. A member of The US National Rifle Team, she shoots a 308 bolt action rifle with iron sights to 1000 yards. Anette holds 3 national civilian records at 300 yards, an international championship and 3 team US national championships. The discipline of high power rifle does not have a women’s category so Anette’s trophies are won overall. 2012 was her first year shooting 3 Gun and recently Tactical Rifle. Anette is busy training with the US Team to prepare for the US Nationals and the Canadian Nationals in August of 2014, and will be trying out for one of the sweet 16 spots for the World Championship Team. The Worlds will be held in the US in 2015 at Camp Perry in Ohio. Follow Anette’s stories and product reviews at and her FB Page AnetteWachter – 30calgal.

    Pace Brothers

    Into the Wilderness is the product of the Pace Brothers, Byron and Darryl, who draw on their vastly different experiences to quench their thirst for adventure and the outdoors. In the first series Byron and Darryl will be traveling around the UK, wondering the remote corners, living off the land as they go. From free diving for shellfish, to trapping and hunting they will film each adventure without support. Their mantra is simple: Be at one with the wilderness around you - become the wilderness.


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