Milford Wildlife Area Wildlife Area

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Milford Reservoir Fishing Information

There are approximately 19,000 acres of public land surrounding Milford Reservoir on the west side and the upper end. All 19,000 acres are open to public hunting. The Steve Lloyd refuge contains an additional 1100 acres. Both the public hunting area and the refuge are managed to maximize the production of various wildlife species.

There are currently 8 newly formed wetlands, the first of which was created in 2001. These wetlands are located along the Republican River all north of the Milford Reservoir. They surround the Steve Lloyd Refuge area. They are primarily filled with natural vegetation but there are a few that are comprised of flooded food plots. They range in size from 60 to 250 acres making-up approximately 2300 acres of wetlands when all pools are full.

Numerous opportunities exist for those who wish to observe or photograph wildlife on the area. The abundant and diversified habitat at Milford supports many species of nongame birds, mammals, reptiles and aquatic life.

Hunters will find a variety of game including quail, pheasant, prairie chicken, duck, goose, rabbit, turkey, deer and squirrel. Trappers are also active throughout the season in pursuit of raccoon, muskrat, beaver and other furbearers .

Area News - Updated: 05/21/2018
2018 Spring Burning Season Totals:

11 prescribed spring burns were conducted between March and April this year totaling 2,855 acres.  We did fewer burns and they were larger in size than we typically aim for, several of these burns were 300+ acres in size.  We were able to do several cooperative burns with neighboring land owners and burn some pieces that hadn't been burned in many years.  This will provide good brood rearing habitat near nesting habitat in many locations this year as well as provide more desirable nesting habitat in the next couple of years on the grasslands that were burned this spring. Prescribed fire is used as a habitat management tool to reduce woody invasion of trees and shrubs in native grass stands, minimize invasive grass species such as brome and promote fire tolerant desirable tree species in timber stands, all without using herbicides.  74 brush piles were burned this past winter providing for safer spring burning conditions.  Many of these brush piles had been sitting for several years waiting for adequate snowfall to burn them safely.

2017 Wetland Conditions

North Smith- the agricultural crops were unable to be planted due to early flooding, area was spring burned, 106 acres were sprayed due to cottonwood, willow, bindweed and cocklebur infestation,   millet and buckwheat were broadcasted in the bare areas, a few corn strips were planted but did not grow well, plan to start pumping in October

Lower Smith- area was spring burned, natural vegetation looks good, area has held water during the growing season and has reduced vegetation in the deeper water areas, plan to start pumping at the end of September

Mall Creek- the river bank dike was eroded during a flood event last winter, this cut helped drain some water out of the wetland which promoted more vegetation growth, plan to repair the break in the dike when conditions allow, hopefully before or during teal season if it dries enough to bring in the heavy equipment needed

Quimby Creek wetland-the south pool was burned this past spring, aquatic herbicides were used to knock back some cocklebur and cord grass, millet and buckwheat were broadcasted

Zach Hudec- this area is currently in corn, the second cell is natural vegetation and looks good, plan to pump in October

West Broughton Youth/Mentor Area- the agricultural crops were unable to be planted due to early flooding, the natural vegetation looks good, some trees and cockleburs were sprayed and millet was broadcasted in bare areas, plan to pump in October

Beichter Bottom- this area held high water all summer which has significantly reduced the vegetation growth and seed production in the open pools of water,  millet was hand seeded on some mud flats, plan to pump in October

Martin Bottom- the lower cell has been removed from agriculture and has seen a desirable vegetative response, cockleburs and trees were sprayed and millet was broadcasted on bare areas, plan to pump in October

2017 Completed Projects

West Broughton Youth Mentor Area:

The pumpsite streambank stabilization project was completed in early August.  This area was rapidly eroding and destabilizing the permanent pump structure.

Mall Creek Wetland:

The eroded spillway was repaired in early September.   The spillway was washed out during a flood in December of 2015 and we were unable to manage water levels and were completely dependent on the lake/river level.

Zach Hudec Wetland:

Soil tests were taken within the Zach Hudec wetland complex and the south cell of the Youth area.  Soil profiles have been and will continue to be evaluated and will impact future management decisions.

Lower Refuge:

The electrical service is currently being upgraded/replaced on the lower refuge and the lower wetland pool will be pumped for the first time since it was built.

Portable Pumps Upgraded:

The last two portable pumps are currently being replaced with a higher efficiency model that will pump more water than the older models and are more cold weather tolerant.

2017/2018 Planned Projects

West Broughton Youth Mentor Area:

A small stretch of streambank will be stabilzed near the seasonal gates by building three river weirs.  This project is quite costly and will be completed when conditions and budgets allow.

 Zach Hudec Wetlands:

A permanent wetland pump and hard lined water pipe will continue to be evaluated as a way to increase huntable acres within the wetland complex.

North Smith Wetland:

New infrastructure is being discussed as a way to increase additional water retention and expanding the huntable acres within the wetland.  The spillways on the interior dike separating Lower and Upper Smith are eroding due to flood waters and need to be reinforced with rock.  

Timber Stand Improvement (TSI)

Efforts are being made to improve the quality of our timber stands.  Chainsaws,herbicides, prescribed fire and mulching/mowing are being used in various areas to reduce undesirable tree species (Locust, elm, hackberry, cedar) and promote desirable species (Oak, walnut, hickory).  We recently completed some work near North Smith, Mall Creek, Quimby Creek and Beichter Bottom.  Undesirable trees were cut or girdled and left standing.   Several other timber stands, particularly creek drainages, have been targeted as areas in need of improvement.  In many areas, the majority of our desirable trees such as oaks are dying out or being shaded out by undesirable tree species.  Oaks are not a shade tolerate species meaning they require some sunlight to grow.  Many of the areas where TSI has been done will look pretty bare for the first several years until the seedlings develop into young trees.  In the meantime, the downed trees and increased growth of the understory will provide cover for many wildlife species including deer and turkeys.

Handicapped Vehicle Access Permits Available For Two Designated Areas on Milford Wildlife Area

Both areas will remain open to regular public hunting but will also be available for handicapped vehicle access by special permit.

A valid state issued handicapped permit and a permit from Milford Wildlife Area is required.

Please call the Milford Wildlife Area office for more information 785-461-5402.

North Area: Southwest of 13th Road and Rainbow Road Intersection

South Area: Northeast of Ava Road and Rebecca Road Intersection

Year-Round Prescribed Burning

The Milford Wildlife Area will be conducting prescribed burns throughout the year. The timing of these burns varies according to our management goals for each burn. Overall, we aim to control/reduce woody invasion, noxious weeds and promote more forbs in our grass stands to provide better brood rearing and nesting habitat for upland game birds and provide other benefits to many wildlife species.

Resprouting Hedgerows

Over the past several years we have been cutting mature hedgerows in hopes of promoting new growth that will offer a good quality of cover for numerous wildlife species, particularly upland birds.  We will move around the area periodically to cut hedgerows to promote various stages of vegetation growth on these hedgerows. Firewood permits are required to cut any dead AND down wood and are available free of charge by calling our office at 785-461-5402. Firewood is for personal use only and may not be sold commercially. Vehicles are not allowed off of maintained roads or inside gates or "no vehicles allowed" signs. Trees will be piled along roadways where practical. 

New Gates and Parking Areas

Numerous gates and parking areas have been and will continue to be constructed on the area. These parking areas are meant to provide a safe area to park vehicles off of roadways while visiting the area. Several dead end roads have been closed, some may be open seasonally as posted from March 1-October 1 unless posted otherwise. The primary objective of installing the gates is to improve the overall integrity of the wildlife area by restricting vehicle access. These gates should not only improve constituents wildlife interactions, they will also reduce the high volume of trash, off-road vehicle use, poaching and vandalism that has occurred on the area in the past. The Steve Lloyd upper and lower refuge is closed to all activities year round, while the rest of the Wildlife Area is open to foot traffic within the gated areas.

General Information

Milford Reservoir & WA (PDF 572.14 kB)

Manager: Kristin Kloft

Assistant Manager: Justin Wren

Phone: (785) 461-5402

Special Regulations

Camping, camp fires, off-road vehicle use, riding horses, and target shooting are prohibited activities. Camping can be done inside Milford State Park

Refuge areas are closed to all hunting and off-road activities throughout the year. There is one access road to the Steve Lloyd Overlook that is open year-round. Any off-road activities along this roadway are prohibited.

Free daily hunt permits are required to hunt waterfowl within the wetlands complex.

No motorized boats are allowed in any of the wetland areas except Mall Creek/Peterson Bottoms.

Only non-toxic shot is allowed in the wetland areas. The perimeters of these areas are posted.

Special Features

The West Broughton area has been designated a Youth/Mentor Area for all activities. Each mentor age 18 or older must be accompanied by a youth 17 years old or younger.

Here is a complete list of Public Land Regulations or you can download the regulation summary.


Milford Reservoir began operation in 1965 and the former Forestry, Fish and Game Commission began operation of the public hunting area in 1967.

Milford Wildlife Area Facilities
Zach Hudec Wetland Parking Area
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 18.482 W97 03.153

West Broughton Youth Marsh Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 19.143 W97 03.785

Upper Smith Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 16.680 W97 01.506

Sugarbowl Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 14.127 W96 58.986

Martin Bottom Wetland South Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 16.856 W97 02.581

Steve Lloyd Refuge Outlook
  • Type of Facility: Wildlife Viewing
  • Location of Facility: N39 15.405 W97 00.879

Quimby Creek Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 11.025 W97 00.188

Martin Bottom Wetland North Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 17.552 W97 02.626

Mall Creek Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 15.767 W96 59.884

Lower Smith Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 16.037 W97 00.802

Gatesville Boat Ramp
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • Location of Facility: N39 15.994 W97 00.726

Beichter Wetland Parking Lot
  • Type of Facility: Parking Lot
  • Location of Facility: N39 17.547 W97 03.181

Milford Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report - 01/26/2018
Waterfowl numbers

Approximately 500 ducks and 3,500 geese were observed around the wetlands and main lake this week.  As wetlands are thawing out, please use caution when hunting.

Waterfowl counts given on this report are based on what was observed on the day the report is updated. Waterfowl numbers vary greatly from day to day and weather conditions and hunting pressure will affect the numbers of waterfowl on the area.

Lake level Current Level is 1143.52 and Conservation Pool is 1144.4 The dam is releasing 500 CFS. The inflow into the lake is unavailable due to ice.
Hunting conditions

Vegetation growth and seed production has been desirable in many of the wetland areas.  All managed wetlands either have or are being pumped at least partially for this time of the year.  Water levels should continue to rise throughout the waterfowl season as conditions permit.

No activites/hunting allowed in the Steve Lloyd Wetland/Refuge.

Motorized boats are only allowed in the Mall Creek wetland, electric motors are considered "motorized". All other public hunting wetlands are open to NON motorized boats and walk in hunting.

Expected hunting success Fair, most waterfowl were observed on open pockets of water throughout the wetlands and reservoir.  Some waterfowl are using the river.

Do NOT drive on dikes. Vehicles disrupt and discourage waterfowl from using the wetland areas. We have had several dikes being damaged due to unauthorized vehicles driving on them. Scouting is best done on foot to evaluate bird numbers and habitat conditions.

Please report any vehicles on dikes and anyone seen disturbing our pumps. Without the pumps in optimal condition we are unable to pump the wetlands to their greatest potential.

Remember - an electronic permit/sign-in on Isportsman is required for all hunting on Milford Wildlife Area. Hunters can register and check in using the I-sportsman system from any phone or internet device. The information collected and comments received are very useful in establishing future management goals for the area.