Joe Bisogno remembers the frustration of trying to find a good place to hunt and fish with his children when they were growing up.
“I didn’t feel comfortable knocking on doors to ask for permission,” said Bisogno, 60, who lives in Olathe and was the founder of the Mr. Goodcents sandwich chain. “And a lot the public places were crowded and hit pretty hard.
“That’s when I vowed to build a place when I got older where families could come out and enjoy the outdoors.”
A place like Timber Hills Lake Ranch in southeast Kansas.
Bisogno started by buying a large chunk of land that once was a cattle ranch in southeast Kansas. Only an hour and a half drive from Johnson County, the place had plenty of potential.
It had ponds and small lakes, an abundance of timber, and the rugged landscape that people don’t envision when they think of Kansas. Bisogno at first wanted to open a private club operation. But then he thought back to his experience as a young father and opted to make it open to paying customers.
He’s never regretted his decision. Today, customers pay to fish, hunt big game such as elk and buffalo, stay in cabins and hike and camp. Bisogno can take you past a rock wall that is a rattlesnake den, past remnants of a trading post and along a path where ruts in the ground were left by settlers’ wagons.
“This land has a lot of history to it,” Bisogno said. “It’s not what people would expect from Kansas.”
Since opening the hunting and fishing operation nine years ago, Bisogno has had 12 cabins built on the land and has expanded outdoors activities. He recently added a rifle golf range where shooters aim at long-distance targets. He constantly adds new wrinkles to the operation.
Bisogno, who calls himself “a serial entrepreneur,” says the Timber Hills operation isn’t the biggest money-maker in his portfolio. But he still takes pride in what he has developed.
“Just to see families come out here, having a great time, make it worth it,” he said.