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    Eric Pickhartz

    Eric Pickhartz is the Editor in Chief of Wide Open Spaces, bringing a mix of a love of the outdoors 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.

    Staff Writer

    Wide Open Spaces is devoted to publishing engaging content in the hunting, fishing and outdoors areas that will both inform and entertain readers while cultivating a community of like-minded individuals gathering to discuss, share and interact.

    David Schlake

    Hailing from Goochland, Virginia, David grew up on the James River with the Atlantic Coast only a couple hours away. While his proximity to prime waters resulted in a passion for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, he also enjoys upland and whitetail hunting. He graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in journalism before making his way to Austin, Texas, in 2016.

Senior Writers

    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.

    Travis Smola

    Travis Smola was born and raised in southwest Michigan and graduated Western Michigan University with a degree in journalism in 2013. He has been published in magazines and newspapers in Michigan, Wyoming, California, Nevada and Texas covering just about everything including local government, crime, sports and special features. A fisherman all his life, he has also been a hunter for almost 20 years. In 2005 he got into geocaching and has been an active member of the geocaching community in southwest Michigan ever since. He is currently writing a book detailing his adventures in the GPS-oriented hobby.

    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.

    John McAdams

    John McAdams is a proficient blogger, long time hunter, experienced shooter, and veteran of combat tours with the US Army in Iraq & Afghanistan. In addition to his work for Wide Open Spaces, John also started The Big Game Hunting Blog and Big Game Hunting Adventures in order to share his hunting experiences with others and to help them fulfill their hunting dreams. Read some of John’s most popular articles and be sure to subscribe to his show: the Big Game Hunting Podcast.


    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. He resides in Wisconsin, a region peppered with forests, lakes and rivers and all of the good things they offer. 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. He also has a popular Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors, where you can contact him.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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

    Dustin is a dedicated outdoorsman with a self-competitive edge. Whether he is turkey hunting in the spring or chasing the whitetails in the fall, his drive and eagerness to succeed is addictive. Currently he is working on his own designs to bring two products to the market with the mentality of affordable products that hunters need, not just want. He and his wife Kaitlyn just shared the birth of their first son, Wells, in September 2017. His career, and schedule, as a firefighter in Baltimore City, has allowed him to grow in the hunting industry and dedicate his vacation to hunting over 400 hours each season. Loyalty, honor and respect are values in which he grew up on and strives to pass along within the hunting community.

    Ellen Fishbein

    Ellen is a Second-Amendment enthusiast and adventurer with love for hiking, open water, and fresh seafood. When not shooting or finding new ways to prepare freshwater fish, she's sharing her passions and stories with a small group of longtime friends.

    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 [email protected] for consideration!

    Daryk Ganske

    Daryk Ganske, the Wide Open Spaces Social Media Manager, was born and raised in the small town of Brenham, Texas. His knowledge stems from countless hours in deer stands, as well as a corporate communications degree from The University of Texas at Austin. Daryk still lives in Austin, where he enjoys weekends filled with whitetail hunting and bass fishing in the Hill Country.

    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.


    With 7 world records (including the Spotted Bass World Record) and more than 70 bass over 10 lbs to their credit, Matt and Tim share new videos through their YouTube channel TacticalBassin to help you become the best bass fisherman you can be! From ponds, to streams, to the best lakes in the country, we'll show you the techniques to catch the biggest bass of your life! Swimbaits, jigs, and topwater are our specialty but there is nothing we won't try to catch a monster bass!