Hillsdale Wildlife Area
Habitat types include grassland, forest, wetland, ponds, and farmland. Native prairie and brome hay fields are scattered across the Wildlife Area. Grasslands vary from open grass- and wildflower-dominated fields to brushy shrublands abundant with dogwood, plum, sumac, and eastern red-cedar. More than 1,000 acres of mature forest stands, many oak, hickory, and walnut-dominated, provide hard mast for forest wildlife. Six wetland units are managed for ephemeral and emergent vegetation to provide forage and cover for native wildlife, particularly migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. Also, more than 20 old farm ponds can be found across the Wildlife Area; some larger than an acre. Finally, 540 acres of the Wildlife Area is managed with row crop agriculture to provide grain and invertebrates for wildlife and to control noxious weeds. Crops planted include corn, soybeans, sunflowers, and winter wheat. Additional crops are planted as food plots. Food plot locations may change from year-to-year.
The diversity of vegetation types on Hillsdale Wildlife Area provides habitat for many wildlife species. Popular game species include cottontails, doves, waterfowl, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey.
Cottontail Rabbit - Brushy grasslands provide excellent habitat for cottontails, and as a result, rabbits are abundant across the Wildlife Area. Rabbit hunters and beagle clubs from across the United States have come to Hillsdale to hunt rabbits. Rabbits can commonly be seen along area roads at dawn and dusk.
Dove - Sunflower and wheat fields provide forage for migrating mourning doves. Each year approximately 150 acres are planted to sunflowers and wheat, and these 'dove fields' are very popular for hunters during the dove hunting season. Annually, between 500 and 1,000 doves are harvested on the Wildlife Area.
Squirrel - Fox and gray squirrels are abundant across the Wildlife Area, particularly in mature oak-hickory forest stands.
Waterfowl - A diverse group of waterfowl species stop over at Hillsdale Lake and wetlands during spring and fall migration. Common species include mallard, gadwall, blue- and green-winged teal, scaup, bufflehead, goldeneye, Canada goose, and snow goose. Fall migration typically peaks in mid to late December but is highly dependent on ice cover. Because the wetlands freeze-up early, the lake typically provides the only hunting opportunity late in the season.
White-tailed deer - Deer are common across the Wildlife Area. Population density at Hillsdale was estimated at 22 deer per square mile following fall 2015 spotlight surveys.
Wild Turkey - The mixture of forest, grassland, and agricultural vegetation at Hillsdale provides excellent habitat for wild turkeys. Turkeys are common across much of the Wildlife Area. Heavy May rains in 2015 and 2016 may have affected poult survival and recruitment.
Hunting and Fishing Opportunities
Hunting is permitted on approximately 10,000 acres of land and water at Hillsdale Lake. Hillsdale Wildlife Area and Hillsdale State Park provide hunting opportunities on 7,200 land acres. A Youth-Mentor & Novice hunting area includes the 'Youth' or Big Bull Marsh and surrounding uplands east of Spoon Creek Rd on 223rd St. Access to this area is reserved for youth and novice hunters (check the annual hunting regulations guide for more information). A waterfowl refuge is closed to all activities from October 1 through January 15, annually. During construction of Hillsdale Reservoir, much of the standing timber was left standing to provide fish habitat. Approximately 4,500 acres of water are open to fishing.
Hillsdale Wildlife Area News
iSportsman - Required
New in 2015 - Hunters and trappers must check-in using iSportsman prior to using Hillsdale Wildlife Area. When creating an account, be sure to record the 4 digit PIN number you assign to your account and the 6 digit Permit# that is unique to your iSportsman account. The Permit# is not the same as the KDWPT# printed on your hunting license. If you check-in using the automated phone system (1-844-500-0825) you will need to enter your PIN and 6 digit Permit#. It is also highly recommended you enter an email address when registering, so a temporary password can be emailed to you in the event you forget your account password.
Please call the Hillsdale State Park office (913-783-4507) if you have any difficulty with iSportsman.
Game harvest reported using iSportsman from September through November 2015:
Reservoir and Wetland Conditions
Wetlands are full and reservoir is ~3 feet high following November rains. The upper pool of Browns Marsh is being drained to repair beaver damage to the dike and water control structure; however, some water is still available and can provide hunting opportunities for a few hunters.
Excellent forage is available for waterfowl at all wetlands
See the Hillsdale Waterfowl Report for weekly updates throughout the season.
Not all property boundaries are well marked. Be sure you know where public hunting is permitted and obey all signs. If in doubt, maps are available at the Hillsdale State Park office or under the Brochures tab or stop by the State Park office for clarification.
It is NOT legal to use bait when hunting or preparing to hunt on Department lands
Treestands must be marked with your name and address or KDWPT#
Portable blinds may not be left unattended over night
Please contact Eric Kilburg with questions: 913-783-4507.
- REQUIRED September 1, 2015 - Hunters and trappers must check-in using iSportsman
- Area Regulations are posted at the Hillsdale State Park office and on signs across the property
- Non-toxic shot required at designated dove fields
- Camping is permitted only within the State Park designated campgrounds
- Off road vehicle use and target shooting is prohibited
- Special Handicapped hunting is available within designated areas, contact the Hillsdale State Park Office (913-783-4507).
- Attention: Trapping is authorized in areas open to hunting
Hillsdale is one of the newest reservoirs in Kansas. Completed in 1982, the reservoir is part of a comprehensive flood control plan for the Osage and Missouri River basins. In 1989 the Corps of Engineers leased 12,880 acres to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism to be managed for recreation and natural resources. Hillsdale Wildlife Area includes roughly 5,000 land acres located on the northern arms of Little Bull and Big Bull Creeks.
|Waterfowl Numbers||Good numbers and good diversity of waterfowl. Spring migration is underway. Waterfowl were primarily using area wetlands and included mallard, pintail, shoveller, blue and green-winged teal, gadwall, common and hooded merganser, ruddy duck, and Canada goose.|
|Water Level|| |
Antioch Wetland - 2/3 full. Excellent forage plants (smartweed, arrowhead, duckweed)
Browns Wetland, Upper pool - Drained for repairs.
Browns Wetland, Lower pool - Half full. Excellent forage plants (millet and smartweed)
Youth-Mentor Wetland - 3/4 full. Excellent forage plants (millet and smartweed)
Hillsdale Lake - About 1.5 feet below normal pool (See Army Corps Daily Report). Mud flats exposed near the waterfowl refuge.