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.
Four sunflower (42 acres) fields should provide decent dove hunting opportunities in 2020. Dove field maps are available under the General Information tab and at the Hillsdale State Park office. Three dove fields will be open access in 2020; the field located in the Big Bull Wetland area will be reserved as a youth-mentor field on opening day, weekends, and holidays. 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.
- 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 much more normal year in regards to water levels in 2020 in comparison to 2019. All marshes were able to be gradually drained in order to provide a growing environment for moist soil vegetation throughout the year. A fair amount of natural moist soil vegetation has grown throughout all of the marshes on the Hillsdale Wildlife Area. Japanese millet and buckwheat have also grown with high success in the Big Bull Wetland along with the Antioch Wetland. All of these factors should provide ample feeding opportunities for migrating waterfowl throughout the season. All marshes will begin to be filled with water gradually, leading up to the beginning of waterfowl season. At this time, the current Hillsdale Lake water level is below it's conservation pool level. Due to there being no flood pool available, pumping efforts have come to a halt. As we receive precipitation, we may then be able to continue with our wetland pumping efforts. Brown's wetland was able to be successfully flooded before we were required to stop pumping.
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.
Cold weather over the last couple weeks has completely frozen up all water in the area. 3-5 inches of snow are also coving the entire area currently. Because of these conditions there were no ducks surveyed during this week's survey. There was one large group of Canada geese that was seen on the ice on the main body of the lake. There were approximately 1500 geese in that group. There was one other group of Canada geese with about 70 birds surveyed on the swim beach at Hillsdale State Park. Weather conditions are expected to warm up throughout the next week.
|Water Level|| |
Antioch Wetland - 1/4
Browns Wetland, Upper pool - Full
Browns Wetland, Lower pool - Full
Youth-Mentor Wetland - 1/4
Wade Branch Wetlands - 3/4, Empty
Hillsdale Lake - See Army Corps Daily Report
ICE CONDITION - 30% ice cover on lake. 100% 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.