Ohio pheasant hunting opportunities

by Larry S. Moore

The statewide pheasant season opened November 5 along with Division of Wildlife releases on public hunting areas. Many hunters have already headed west for the great pheasant hunts in Iowa or the Dakotas.

However many hunters can't afford to go west. And quite often, the public hunting areas become crowded during pheasant season.

Hunting preserves offer an effective alternative to the time and expense of a trip out west. They also offer a better opportunity to bag birds than public hunting. Hunting preserves provide a perfect setting to tutor a young hunter or a new hunter in a safe environment with a better opportunity for the new hunter to be successful. Hunting preserves costs much less than many other forms of entertainment. Additionally, there is pheasant or other game birds to share at future family dinners.

There are many fine professionally operated hunting preserves in the State of Ohio. Hunting preserves must be licensed by the Division of Wildlife. Birds taken at a preserve require a special band be attached since the hunting regulation bag limits do not apply to game taken at hunting preserves. I'm writing to feature three preserves. I picked these three preserves because I am personally acquainted with the owners. All three work very hard to maintain quality cover and offer some of the finest pheasant hunting to be found in Ohio.

They are Thorn Bottom Hunt Club, owned by Brad and Ann Dysinger and located in northwest Ohio; Mulberry Pheasantry owned by Tony and Wilma Petry in southwest Ohio; and Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club owned by Sam and Peg Ballou located in central Ohio. I've hunted at Thorn Bottom with the Dysingers as well as at Mulberry Pheasantry.

Thorn Bottom Hunting

It was over a year ago that I had a great hunting experience at Thorn Bottom. I had not met Brad but was aware
of his trapshooting and as a key figure in the Ohio State Trapshooting Association. I was aware of Ann from her
artwork support of the US Sportsmen Alliance Ohio Rally, I had not met either. The day also offered an opportunity
to hunt with fellow BFA leader Chad Baus, Senator-elect Rob Portman (then a candidate) plus the Dysingers. I was anxious not only for the hunt but to also see some of the Dysinger's championship Brittany dogs work.

I met Brad even before entering the clubhouse. Over coffee and donuts, the hunter's power breakfast, he explained
Thorn Bottom:

"We have 400 plus acres of some of the finest bird cover to be found anywhere. I came home to Paulding County and with my wife, Ann, opened Thorn Bottom Hunting. This is my home county and home farms. The area we will be hunting is where I grew up hunting and shooting. I can show you where I got my first rabbit and pheasant many years ago. The birds have been released. The dogs are ready. Our cover is in great shape. We will be hunting milo, corn, prairie grass, woods and wetland areas today. I'll show you my deer stands and duck blinds. I hope you are ready because the birds are really strong this year."

The hunting season at Thorn Bottom runs from October 1 to March 15. The only time there are no hunting is Christmas and the week of Ohio deer gun season. Like most hunting preserves, Ohio non-residents do not have to purchase an Ohio hunting license.

Dysinger stresses safety noting, "All groups are assigned an area to hunt. No other group will be in your area. Our goal is for you to have a quality hunt as close to hunting wild pheasants as you can on any preserve. We stress hunter safety. Blaze orange is required plus eye protection. Nonresidents of the State of
Ohio do not have to have an Ohio hunting license but we require you to have one from your state or passed a hunter
safety course."

In addition to hunting over some of the finest Brittanys anywhere, we also got a tour of the kennels with dogs of various ages ready to hunt and younger dogs that are still being trained. Ann Dysinger also showed us some of her artwork including a local mural. They also own Black Swamp Gun Store which is located adjacent to the Thorn Bottom clubhouse. They offer a full line of firearms, ammunition and accessories. The dogs, birds and cover lived up to Brad's claims as a great place to hunt.

You can find more about Dysinger's Hall of Fame trapshooting career at:


For more information on Thorn Bottom Hunting go to (http://www.thornbottom.com/)

Thorn Bottom Hunting
21450 CR 60
Grover Hill, OH 45849
Phone: 419-587-3555

Mulberry Pheasantry

An invitation from a friend for a late season pheasant hunt last spring at Mulberry Pheasantry was immediately accepted. The trip was perfect timing to run the Brittanys one more time. It also provided an opportunity to enjoy a day afield with my son as his birthday present. Anything so I didn't have to go to the mall and shop! I enjoyed the entire hunting experience at Mulberry so much that I recently returned for an early season hunt.

We were welcomed to the clubhouse by the owner of Mulberry, Tony Petry. I soon learned that Petry meets all his customers and is genuinely interested that they have a good experience at his facility. He first showed me the large maps with the layout of the farm and hunting fields. Each field has some unique features along with some differences in cover.

Petry explains, "Dad started the preserve in 1953. We are the oldest continuously operated family preserve and pheasant farm in Ohio. I'm utilizing the natural lay of the land and property to recreate the feel of a trip back to the family farm. In addition to providing a quality hunt, I am also creating, or perhaps, recreating a memory. Everything here is natural farm land. There are rolling hills and some flat areas. Every field has a slightly different characteristic. Some hunters like to rotate and try all the fields while others have a favorite field."

Mulberry Pheasantry is spread over two-hundred acres. Every hunting party is assigned a clearly separated area. The use of the tree lines separating the fields provides a natural break plus good habitat at the edge of the fields. It is a very effective method to create a safety zone for hunters.

Tony also pointed out, "The office/clubhouse doubles as the hatchery in the spring. The hens will begin laying in April and the eggs are put into the incubators. We start the year with 20,000 baby chicks. We raise the chicks for our operation and we sell to other preserves. The oldest incubator is from 1929. It is made from all redwood and still functioning today. I grew up with these machines and with the pheasants."

Hunters without a bird dog can also make arrangements at Mulberry for a guide and a trained bird dog. There is an extra charge for the guide service, above the fees for the birds released. The habitat cover in the Mulberry fields makes the use of a bird dog the only effective method to finding and flushing the pheasants. I was pleasantly surprised to find the cover in great shape despite the unusually dry fall. That is a tribute to how Petry plants and harvests his crops plus the variety of natural edge habitat.

Hunters will want to be sure to check out the stories of various pheasant personalities at Mulberry such as Slippery Sam. I think we met Slippery Sam and some of his kin, as some pheasants effectively used the cover to outsmart both us and the bird dogs on several occasions. Since Mulberry is the closest to my house with about an hour drive, I will be back there again this season.

For more information see the website at www.mulberrypheasantry.com. or contact Tony or Wilma Petry at:

Mulberry Pheasantry
6099 State Route 725 E
Camden, OH 45311
(937) 787- 3912

Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club

Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club is the only place among the three that I've not hunted - at least not yet. I'm planning a hunt here over the
Christmas holidays. I met the owners, Sam and Peg Ballou several years ago. Since then I've seen them at various sportsmen functions plus the US Sportsmen Alliance Ohio Rally. They are really involved in the sportsmen community. They are especially active in sponsoring youth hunting opportunities at their facility. It seems like every time I talk to anyone from Elkhorn, they always have an event either being planned or just completed.

I have visited Elkhorn and was impressed with the layout. In addition to hunting facilities and clubhouse, Elkhorn also offers a banquet room and 5-stand sporting clays course.

I've talked to many people in the Columbus area who have hunted at Elkhorn. I've heard nothing but praise for the
facility and the quality of the hunting experience. Hopefully, I can experience the hunting others have enjoyed since
1962 at Elkhorn yet this year.

For more information see the webiste: http://www.elkhornlakehuntclub.com/index.htm

Or contact Sam and Peg Ballou at:

Elkhorn Lake Hunt Club
4146 Klopfenstein Road
Bucyrus, OH 44820
Phone: 419-562-6131

These preserves offer hunting open to the public. While memberships are not required, membership packages
typically offer much better pricing for those who hunt frequently.

Find more hunting clubs:

http://www.thenaturalresource.com/ and search for hunting


Upland game season info from Division of Wildlife:

Public pheasant releases from the Division of Wildlife:

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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