Milford Wildlife Area

Area News
Milford Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report
Milford Wildlife Gallery
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 .

1782 10th Road
Clay Center,KS    67432
Office Hours:
8am to 4:30pm However we are a field office so hours are subject to change

Manager: Justin Wren

Assistant Manager: Sean Mason

Phone: (785) 461-5402

Area News - Updated: 01/19/2024
Waterfowl Season Split:

Low Plains Late Zone (Milford Wildlife Area) is closed from January 1, 2024 to January 19, 2024. 

Low Plains Late Zone (Milford Wildlife Area) re-opens from January 20, 2024 to January 28, 2024.

Regulation Reminders:

Trail Cameras: Trail cameras are not permitted any state owned or managed properties [KAR 115-8-25]. Trail cameras will be removed from location by area staff.

Tree Stands: Tree stands left overnight must be labeled with owner's name and address, OR KDWP Costumer Number. Tree stands not labeled will be removed by area staff.

E-Bikes: All e-bikes/electric bicycles/electric-assist bicycles are prohibited under the motorized vehicle regulation [115-8-13(2)]. A motorized vehicle includes; cars, trucks, all-terrain vehicles, work-site utility vehicles, golf carts, go-carts, and electric or gasoline-powered two-wheel vehicles.

Fires : Ground fires are not permitted anywhere on the wildlife area, under any circumstance.

2023 Wetland Conditions

(To be updated periodically. Last update 01/19/2024)

The lake and river are 100% froze over. Department maintained roads are heavily drifted and impassible at places making parts of the area inaccessible. 

Vegetation quality and quantity is quite good with a heavy smart weed component and generous seed production across most wetlands. Paths and openings were mowed sporadically though some wetland units to create open water pockets where heavy vegetation was dominant.  

West Broughton Youth/Mentor: Wetland unit is dry, and no pumping will occur due to ice on the river. Pumping was started on 10/04/2023, water will be directed to the large unit on the South, and will fill North as water accumulates. Severe droughts late fall made pumping conditions difficult as water rights were limited, and low water levels made water difficult to reach with our pumps.

Zach Hudec: Pumping is currently not happening due to low water levels and exposed sandbars. Due to the current agricultural lease, we are unable to start pumping until October 10th.

Martin: Pumping has not begun for the 2023-2024 season. Pumping did occur during the 2022 – 2023 season. The wetland cell has good vegetation boards have been put in the structures to start holding water North of the pump site.

Beichter: The south structure has continued to erode, and now the outlet bypasses the structure completely. The road leading into an area commonly called "high banks" is now open year-round providing improved access to Beichter wetland and the republican river.

Quimby: Pumping has not begun for the 2023-2024 season and will not begin until water levels rise substantially. Pumping occurred during the 2022 – 2023 season. The north unit was burned recently in August, so currently there is minimal wetland habitat. 

Mall Creek: Currently dry, and the in-flow creek is dry. Boards are in place to hold any precipitation we do receive. Boat ramp is inaccessible. 

Lower Smith/Gatesville: Pumping has not occurred since the split. Pumps have been removed from the river and are not expected to be put back due to ice conditions on the river. The wetland unit is still holding birds and water, expect thick ice to be present on 01/20/2024. Pumping occurred during the 2022 – 2023 season. All boards were pulled during the spring 2023 drawdown season, with good vegetation response. Some pockets of thick cattails present. The boat ramp is in good condition, but river levels are low and will make navigation difficult to impossible due to exposed sandbars. 

North Smith: Pumping has not begun for the 2023-2024 season yet. Pumping did occur during the 2022 – 2023 season. Vegetation and habitat is looking excellent, should provide ample opportunities once flooded.

Steve Lloyd Lower Refuge (No hunting): Currently very limited water due to drought and low water levels in the mud flats/hazard area of the lake.

Wetland Stone Signs Reset
wetland stone signs reset

On July 2nd, several volunteers assisted greatly with replacing the Zach Hudec wetland memorial sign and replacing the base rocks for four other wetland stone signs.  These signs were damaged in the 2019 flooding on the Milford Wildlife Area and have been lying on the ground since the flood waters receded in December of this past year.  The financial assistance from the Zach Hudec family and donated equipment and expertise from Joe Warren and Grandpa Boone's Cabin & Outfitters made this project possible.  Thank you to everyone involved!

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, quail and turkeys.

4th Road TSI removing cedars


4th Road TSI oak trees
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. 

Gates and Parking Areas

Gates and parking areas have been installed on the area for several years now. These parking areas are meant to provide a safe area to park vehicles off of roadways while visiting the area. Seasonal roads will be open as posted from March 1-October 1 unless posted otherwise to provide more accessible fishing access. The primary objective of installing the gates is to improve the overall integrity of the wildlife area by restricting vehicle access to a few pieces of the wildlife area. These gates should not only improve constituents wildlife interactions, they will also help reduce the spread of 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, in addition to the seasonal road vehicle access. 

General Information
1782 10th Road
Clay Center, KS    67432
Office Hours:
8am to 4:30pm However we are a field office so hours are subject to change

Milford Reservoir & WA (PDF 575.94 kB)

Manager: Justin Wren

Assistant Manager: Sean Mason

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.

Hunters can check-in / check-out here, using your licensing login credentials.

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 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 - 01/18/2024
Waterfowl numbers

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.

The waterfowl survey this week resulted in an average number of waterfowl viewed at the specific points of the waterfowl survey. 

Throughout the week, a low number of waterfowl have been viewed due to no open water.

Lake level Current Lake Level is 1140.99 and Conservation Pool is 1144.4 The dam is releasing 50 CFS. The inflow into the lake is 130 CFS. 
Hunting conditions

Vegetation growth and seed production has been above average this year. Pockets of thick vegetation present in some wetlands that could result in difficulty finding down birds.

Lower Smith has a decent amount of water in the wetland.

ALL OTHER WETLANDS have no water being pumped at this time, due the drought and low water levels for the pumps to be functional.

No activities/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 Poor, very little water in the river and the lake is currently 3' below conservation pool.  All of the open water is frozen, including wetlands, lake and river.  Will take some good scouting for a successful hunt.
Waterfowl Season Split:

Low Plains Late Zone (Milford Wildlife Area) is closed from January 1, 2024 to January 19, 2024. 

Low Plains Late Zone (Milford Wildlife Area) re-opens from January 20, 2024 to January 28, 2024.


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.

Do NOT block gates, and pay attention to No Parking signs in the wetland parking lots.

Hunter's need to be aware of their targets before shooting.

The area is a no trash policy, so if you take it in, please bring it back out with you.  This includes spent shotgun shells

Fires are not permitted anywhere on the wildlife area. Violators will be ticketed

Remember - Hunters can check-in / check-out here, All hunters (youth included) must first register online. The information collected and comments received are very useful in establishing future management goals for the area. for more information on seasons and limits.