Hillsdale Wildlife Area

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REQUIRED Hunters and trappers must check-in using the check-in/check-out system

Land Cover

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.


Manager: Steven Anderson
Phone: (913) 594-3600

Area News - Updated: 07/20/2022

Hillsdale Wildlife Area News

Hunters and trappers must check-in here, https://ksoutdoors.com/checkin using your licensing login credentials prior to using Hillsdale Wildlife Area.

Please call the Hillsdale State Park office (913-783-4507) if you have any questions. 

Dove Fields

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.

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. 

Deer Hunters

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.

General Information

Hillsdale Reservoir & WA (PDF 535.44 kB)

Manager: Steven Anderson
Phone: (913) 594-3600

Special Regulations
  • REQUIRED Hunters and trappers must check-in / check-out here, https://ksoutdoors.com/checkin using your licensing login credentials. 
  • 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

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


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. 

Hillsdale Facilities
Hillsdale Waterfowl Report - 01/19/2023
Waterfowl Numbers

The Hillsdale Wildlife Area has experienced a relatively dry year in regards to water levels in 2022.  The reservoir currently sits 1/2 foot below conservation pool.  We have had some successful moist soil vegetation growth in all wetland pools this year.  Japanese millet, proso millet, and golden millet were all planted in all of the wetland pools and are doing well.  Strips of milo were also planted in Brown's wetland especially in the upper reaches as well as Antioch Marsh.  On top of the agriculture, there has been plenty of production from moist soil vegetation throughout all of the pools.  Pumping efforts were successful in covering most of each marsh pool with huntable water.  Rains over the last month have brought marsh levels to a near maximum level.                      

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.

This week has been warm for the season with some highs in the upper 50's. Some rain, snow and cold wind has moved into the area and temperature look to be cool with possible snow in the coming days.  There is currently no ice on any of the marsh pools and the lake is all open. The most recent survey showed mostly mallards and canada geese in the area.  groups of 50-250 mallards were counted on all marsh pools.  Groups of 20-200 canada geese were also counted using all of the marsh pools.  There are still ducks and geese using the main body of the lake, and most of them are using the coves to stay protected from the wind. Groups of 100-200 goldeneye were also counted on the main body of the lake.  6 tundra swans were seen using Brown's wetland this week, so hunters should be aware and be sure of their target.                                                    

Water Level

Antioch Wetland - Full

Browns Wetland, Upper pool - Full

Browns Wetland, Lower pool - Full

Youth-Mentor Wetland - Full

Wade Branch Wetlands - North 1/2, South 1/4

Hillsdale Lake - See Army Corps Daily Report

ICE CONDITION - 0% ice cover on lake.  0% ice cover on wetlands


Reminder - check-in / check-out is required for all hunting on Hillsdale Wildlife Area. This can be done here, https://ksoutdoors.com/checkin using your licensing login credentials. 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.