Hillsdale Wildlife Area
Habitat types include grassland, forest, wetland, ponds, and farmland. Grasslands vary from open grass- and wildflower-dominated fields to brushy shrublands abundant with dogwood, plum, sumac, and cedar. More than 1,000 acres of mature oak, hickory, and walnut forest provides hard mast for forest wildlife. Six moist soil wetlands are managed for ephemeral and emergent vegetation for native wildlife, particularly migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. Also, more than 20 ponds can be found across the Wildlife Area; fishing quality unknown. Approximately 500 acres of the Wildlife Area is planted to corn, soybeans, sunflowers, and winter wheat, annually. 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
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 number that is unique to your iSportsman account. The Permit number is NOT the same as the KDWPT number 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 number. 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.
Two sunflower (33 acres) fields should provide decent dove hunting opportunities in 2021. Dove field maps are available under the General Information tab and at the Hillsdale State Park office. Both dove fields will be open access in 2021. Non-toxic shot is required when hunting dove fields. All hunters must be checked into I-sportsman.
Reservoir and Wetland Conditions
Check Hillsdale Lake water level and 24-hour precipitation here.
Check Waterfowl Report tab for Wetland water levels and conditions.
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 General Information tab or stop by the State Park office for clarification.
13 food plots have been planted this fall across the wildlife area. This should provide with browse, as well as hunting opportunities throughout the season.
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#. Stands must be removed within 2 weeks of season closure.
Portable blinds may not be left unattended over night
Please contact Zach Ramsay with questions: 913-594-3600.
Manager: Zach Ramsay
Phone: (913) 594-3600
- 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|| |
The Hillsdale Wildlife Area has experienced a normal year in regards to water levels in 2021. The reservoir currently sits 1-3 feet above conservation pool, and rains have kept things moist. We have had some successful moist soil vegetation growth in a wetland pools this year. Japanese millet was also planted along side some milo in the Youth-Mentor Wetland and Antioch Wetland. The upper reaches of Brown's Wetland were planted into Japanese Millet. A fair amount of seed has been produced which should make good forage and cover for waterfowl this season. Pumping began in early September. All marshes will continue to be pumped and catch rain throughout the fall in order to provide the most ideal habitat, forage, and hunting opportunities possible.
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.
Weather has been very warm throughout the summer. Hillsdale received a large rain last weekend and highs have been in the mid 80's. Within the last two weeks, blue-wing and green-wing teal have started to be observed on the wildlife area. Groups of 10-20 birds are starting to be seen on the body of the lake, and in flight over the timber near the water with total counts being 50-100 birds in a given area. Multiple groups of blue-wing teal have also been observed on the Wade's Brach pools along with the Youth-Mentor Wetland. Groups of Wood Ducks have also been observed throughout the wildlife area, so hunters should make certain of their target throughout the teal season.
|Water Level|| |
Antioch Wetland - 3/8
Browns Wetland, Upper pool - 1/4
Browns Wetland, Lower pool - 1/4
Youth-Mentor Wetland - 3/4
Wade Branch Wetlands - Full, Full
Hillsdale Lake - See Army Corps Daily Report
ICE CONDITION - 0% ice cover on lake. 0% ice cover on wetlands
Reminder - an electronic permit/sign-in on Isportsman is required for all hunting on Hillsdale Wildlife Area. All hunters (youth included) must register online and create an individual account. Hunters can then check in using the I-sportsman system from any phone or internet device. This can be done immediately before the hunt or the night before the hunt. The information and harvest data collected, along with comments received are very useful in establishing future management goals for the Hillsdale State Wildlife Area.
https://www.ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Migratory-Birds/Ducks for more information on seasons and limits.