Elk City Wildlife Area

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Area News
Elk City Reservoir/Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report
Elk City Reservoir Fishing Information
Elk City State Park

The dam is located 5 miles northwest of Independence. The 12,446 acres of fish and wildlife habitat are licensed to the department from the Corps of Engineers. The area has many different habitat types and is managed primarily for waterfowl, upland and small game, deer and turkey. Camping is permitted at the state park and Corps of Engineers campgrounds.Toilets are available at these areas also. Anglers primarily fish for catfish, flathead and crappie, and pursue white bass in the river in the spring. Hiking trails are available in the state park and on the Corps of Engineers properties. No hunting is allowed in the state park or in the refuge area and in the safety zone adjacent the state park, hunting is restricted to archery and shotgun with pellets only. The refuge is closed to all activities from September 1 to March 31 and angler access is allowed in the refuge from April 1 to August 31. Check current hunting regulations summary for additional hunting requirements.

5089 CR 2925
Independence,KS    67301
Area News - Updated: 08/09/2019



Elk City Reservoir flooded twice this summer, reaching levels 3.5 ft above emergency spillway levels, increasing the reservoir pool from 4000 acres to over 14,000 acres of water.  Severe impacts occurred to wildlife habitat.

PRAIRIE RESTORATION - Native grassland restoration continues with the use of a skid steer mounted saw to remove trees from existing blocks of native grass. Brush is being piled and stumps treated to prevent re-sprouting. These work areas are scattered across the area and have targeted native grasslands as well as quail habitat areas. Extensive spraying of invasive weeds has occurred on several areas above flood stage water levels.  

DOVE SEASON -  Sunflower fields WERE PLANTED this spring ON ELK CITY WILDLIFE AREA.  Due to extensive flooding, no sunflowers survived and very little agricultural crops are found on the area.  WE WILL NOT HAVE ANY MANAGED DOVE FIELDS ON ELK CITY WA FOR 2019.  Dove harvest from past years has been variable with just over 3400 harvested in 2014, 700 in 2013, 2400 in 2012 and just over 4000 in 2011. Since 2008, over 24,000 dove have been harvested on managed fields.  The only surviving sunflowers is a 15 acre field on Dove Flats WA.

No Lead shot is allowed on dove management hunt areas while posted.  The non-toxic requirement is in response to the concentrated hunting of doves and accumulation of lead in the fields, available to wildlife while feeding.  Non-Toxic shot is required on numerous dove management areas across the state.  SUNFLOWER fields will be available at Mined Land WA and Grand Osage.  Please check the department web site for additional information on managed sunflower hunting opportunities across the state.

A reminder to hunters, the Berentz-Dick Wa (Buffalo Ranch) is open to hunting on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday only.   Mandatory registration before hunting is in effect and I-Sportsman is now available for registration. It will be MANDATORY for use for all hunting.  No paper registration cards are to be used by hunters.  NO SUNFLOWERS SURVIVED EXTENSIVE RAINFALL AND COOL TEMPERATURES ON THE BUFFALO RANCH.

WETLAND MANAGEMENT - The majority of the small wetlands and ponds and shoreline near the reservoir were impacted by the summer flooding.  The larger Widgeon/Simmons wetlands further west up the watershed survived and do have extensive stands of moist soil plants and are already partially filled.  We will continue to capture water as rain allows.  Expect thick cover as we were unable to do any ground preparation and vegetation manipulations this summer due to extensive rainfall and wet conditions.

ROADS:  Several roads on the area were heavily impacted by flooding, primarily siltation and flood debris.  We will be attempting to remove as much of this as possible when drying conditions allow as the water has finally receded.  Please be patient, as some access may be difficult especially during wet conditions.  Drivers are cautioned to avoid driving on wet, silt laden roads, as it is extremely soft and slick.

The Chetopa Creek / Quaker Cemetery Road: This road will be seasonally closed (September to April) The road WILL BE OPEN during duck hunting seasons. Vehicle access will be allowed, when silt and flood debris is removed, during early teal, youth and all of regular duck season, and will be closed immediately following duck season. This is to decrease vehicle disturbance while increasing wildlife utilization and improve hunting opportunities in the Chetopa Creek area for deer and turkey.

DEER HUNTING: Hunters are reminded that changes were made for public land hunters regarding baiting and the use of blinds. No individual may use more than two portable blinds or tree stands on any single department owned or managed property. Portable blinds or decoys shall not be left unattended overnight. Each portable blind or tree stand shall be marked with the users name and address or the users department issued identification number in a visible, legible and weather proof manner.  Stands are to be removed two weeks after season closes.

No person may place or use bait while hunting on department lands. Bait is defined as any grain, fruit, vegetable, nut, hay, salt, sorghum, feed, other food or mineral that is capable of attracting wildlife. Liquid scents and sprays are not considered bait. Hunting is prohibited within 100 yards of any baited site for up to 10 days after removal of the bait. Hunting is allowed over standing crops or food plots found on the area.

Two deer permits are allowed per person on Elk City Reservoir, including the either sex permit and primary antlerless deer permit only. No vehicles are allowed off maintained roadways.  All terrain vehicles are not allowed on department maintained roadways or any of the property.

Elk City WA Deer Hunters should expect very little vegetation and crops on the wildlife area due to the extensive flood damage.  Department staff will attempt to plant food plots across the area starting in August if dry weather allows and after we remove flood debris.  Some agricultural fields will be planted to wheat by our Ag tenants.  Many of our deer have left the wildlife area due to high water and lack of food, and we are attempting to provide food resources to draw them back onto the property as conditions improve.


General Information
5089 CR 2925
Independence, KS    67301

Elk City Reservoir & WA (PDF 417.93 kB)
Elk City SP (PDF 240.92 kB)

Manager: Darin Porter
Fish Biologist: Seth Lundgren

Phone: 620.331.6820

Special Regulations
  • All off-road vehicle and horse use is prohibited.
  • The Elk City Wildlife Area has one refuge. All activities and entry is prohibited from September 1 through March 31.
  • The refuge is closed to all hunting year round. Fishing is allowed April 1 through August 31.

Special Features: The world record flathead catfish weighing 123 pounds was caught here in 1998.

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


The 12,446 acres of land and water were licensed from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission after completion of the reservoir.

Elk City Facilities
Barren Bottoms Boat Launch
  • Type of Facility: Boat Launch
  • Location of Facility: N37 14.786 W95 51.228
  • Click for more information

    Gravel launch for small boats

South Squaw Boat Launch

Card Creek Boat Ramp
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • This facility is ADA accessible
  • Location of Facility: N37 15.478 W95 50.966
  • Click for more information

    Located in the Corps of Engineers Campground

Elk River Boat Launch
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • Location of Facility: N37 17.546 W95 55.109
  • Click for more information

    Ramp located on the River for small boats

Elk City State Park Boat Ramp
  • Type of Facility: Boat Ramp
  • This facility is ADA accessible
  • Location of Facility: N37 14.544 W95 47.204
  • Click for more information

    This boat ramp is located in the Elk City State Park

Elk City Reservoir/Wildlife Area Waterfowl Report - 02/04/2020
Waterfowl numbers 8,000-10,000 ducks have been seen on the reservoir and wildlife area. Around 5 thousand light geese using the reservoir. A few hundred Canada geese have been seen around the area as well but mostly on adjacent private ground. Duck season is closed.
Water level The Wetlands are full. For current Reservoir levels visit http://www.swt-wc.usace.army.mil/ELKC.lakepage.html
Hunting conditions ELK CITY RESERVOIR WAS FULL FOR OVER 60 DAYS THIS SUMMER.  The lake edge is primarily mud bank now due to summer flooding and small elevation changes early this fall.  Wetlands are in Fair to Good shape.  See Comments Section.
Expected hunting success Fair. REGULAR DUCK SEASON IS NOV. 9-JAN.5 AND JAN.11-26

For updated waterfowl numbers and weather conditions call (620) 331-6820. Individuals utilizing the wildlife area need to be aware of the refuge boundaries. Maps can be obtained at the Fisheries & Wildlife office (below the dam) or at the State Park (on the lake side).

Wetland water levels and vegetation vary greatly this year due to the duration and extent of the reservoir flood. Some wetlands were not drained at all and some were drained late to attempt to grow some moist soil vegetation. The wetlands that did not flood have good production but vegetation is thick and we were not able to do much mowing. Finding open areas may be difficult, especially in the early parts of the season.