WIHA Rules and Information
The Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program developed out of a pilot project started in 1995 when the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks leased private land and opened it to public hunting. A survey of WIHA landowners and users that first year foundgreat acceptance among both groups. Much of the early success of the program was due to the responsible behavior of hunters.The WIHA program promises every hunter who purchases a Kansas hunting license the opportunity to enjoy the state’s wildliferesources. Common sense and ethical behavior will ensure that the program expands and remains popular.The following guidelines will assist sportsmen in using WIHA tracts:
1. Obey all Kansas hunting regulations.
WIHA areas are for hunting only. Other activities, including trapping, are prohibited through the WIHA program,. Hunting accessis allowed by foot traffic only. Vehicles are not allowed. Do not trespass on neighboring property. Signs will mark property lines.Hunt and walk only on the side which is enrolled in WIHA, especially if the area is bordered by a creek or hedgerow. WIHA tractsare open to hunting September 1 – January 31, or November 1 through January 31, depending on contract period. (A few areas inthe east may be open through March 31.) Entering a WIHA tract prior to or after the contract period without landowner permissionfor any reason is trespassing. Any game species with an open season during the contract period may be hunted on WIHA, using thelegal means and method of take, with the exception of some WIHA tracts designated as “No Firearm Deer Hunting.”
2. Hunters must be ethical, respectful, and sportsmanlike.
Obey the safety zone concept. Maintain a buffer around buildings, homes, and livestock. Respect the rights of the landowner andothers using the area. Do not litter. Take all trash with you. Do not enter abandoned or maintained buildings on the area. Do not leavegame remains in parking areas or along roads. Treat the land as if it were your own and act responsibly. Do not destroy or damageany equipment, machinery, or other items left on the area. Take precautions to avoid starting a fire, especially during drought peri-ods. Do not block access drives to crop fields or pastures on WIHA tracts or neighboring properties. Park only in designated park-ing areas or along the road. Leave gates as you found them and avoid stretching or damaging fences when crossing them.
3. All regulations for KDWP public lands apply to WIHA. For a complete listing of regulations, contact a KDWP office. Thefollowing activities are NOT permitted through the WIHA program:
Target practice, trapping, commercial or noncommercial dog training, camping, horseback riding, stocking or releasing of wildlife, operation of vehicles, discharge of fireworks, fires, littering, drinking cereal malt beverages or alcoholic liquor, and destruc-tive acts, including digging, destruction, or removal of signs or vegetation. Although the WIHA program allows access for huntingonly, trapping may occur on WIHA properties by individuals with appropriate landowner permission.
4. Respect unharvested crops.
KDWP biologists negotiate agreements with cooperators well in advance of crop harvest. In some cases, in order to obtain theproperty in WIHA, it is agreed that access be limited until crops are harvested. Such fields will be posted with “NO HUNTING INUNHARVESTED CROP.” If land is included in the same WIHA that is not unharvested crop, that property may be hunted. If theproperty does not have signs indicating “NO HUNTING IN UNHARVESTED CROP,” that crop field may be hunted. However, careshould be taken not to cause crop damage.
5. Agricultural considerations.
The majority of land leased for WIHA is comprised of CRP grass. Occasionally, USDA releases CRP land for emergency hayingand grazing. KDWP has no control whether WIHA property is hayed or grazed. However, if WIHA is hayed or grazed, the cooper-ator may receive a reduced payment.Less than 25 percent of land enrolled in WIHA is cropland. This may include wheat or milo stubble and winter wheat. In some cases,tracts are in crop rotation; one year a tract may be winter wheat and the next it may be milo stubble. In other cases, the cropland por-tion is accepted to round out the other acres and make signing and access easier. Some winter wheat is specifically enrolled for gooseor crane hunting. WIHA contracts are signed months in advance of the hunting season, and at the time the contract was signed the areahas suitable habitat and hunting opportunity. If habitat is negatively impacted by the cooperator, payment reduction will occur. However,if habitat is negatively impacted by weather, no payment reduction will take place. As part of the agreement, livestock may be presenton some tracts. These areas may still be hunted, but hunters must use common sense to avoid harassing or injuring livestock.
6. Be aware of tract-specific regulations. Report violations to the local natural resource officer.
Some WIHA tracts are limited to youth dove hunting only (Sept. 1 - Sept. 30). These tracts are noted in the atlas legend and aremarked with different colored WIHA signs. Youth 16 and younger may hunt on these areas if accompanied by a parent or guardianover age 21, who may hunt with the youth. Only one adult per youth may hunt in the party.Sportsmen’s behavior will decide the future of these areas. Kansas landowners have voluntarily offered over 1 million acres of land to Kansas hunters for public hunting. These landowners can remove property from the program any time for any reason. KDWPencourages hunters to be responsible, ethical, safe, and courteous to ensure that the future of WIHA remains strong.Extended weather extremes will impact quality of hunting.Due to the large number of impending CRP cancellations, some WIHA tracts may be removed.Please consult the KDWP website for up-to-date listings of withdrawn tracts.