The Becker Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) is located about 1 mile north of Pardeeville on Highway 22. The property is open to wildlife observation, hiking, some hunting and photography. The 357 acre WPA, is managed in cooperation with Indian Trails Campground & The US Fish & Wildlife Service. Becker is certainly worth a visit if what you are looking for is a short, easy hike through wetland and grassland communities. Oddly when we visited on May 12th, there were no waterfowl to speak of, well, other than the 3 ducks who flew over on their way to somewhere further north.
Becker WPA is about a 45 minute drive east of Devil’s Lake State Park. To get there, you simply take Highway 33 out of Baraboo, through the city of Portage and on until you come to the intersection of Highway 22. Turn right onto 22 and head south for maybe a mile until you’ll see the first parking area on your right. There are 2 other areas on the south-west corner & the north-western edge of the property as well.
From the Hwy. 22 parking area, you can pretty much see all the public land. Becker is mostly grassland with 3 large ponds in the middle. There is a lone, mostly private, hill on the far eastern border. What I find most interesting actually is the very North-Woodsy looking forest on the southern edge of the property that sports a mix of tamarack trees and what looked like black spruce. (A little slice of bear country!!)
With spring storms pressing us on all sides, we walked the 1.5 mile trail which loops around the central ponds. Seeing no waterfowl what-so-ever we couldn’t help but wonder if we had arrived at the wrong time of the year, knowing most of the migratory birds had already departed. On the other hand, as a waterfowl production area, you would think there would have been more, um, some, well, any waterfowl! That isn’t to say that the WPA isn’t worth a visit. The property seemed healthy and well maintained with a collection of beautiful old oak trees. One of the oaks even has a swing! We also saw plenty of red-winged blackbirds and our first bobolinks of the year. While hiking along the southern wooded area we had a deer snort at us, obviously wanting us to stay out of the woods. Of course I found the obligatory ticks crawling on me as we were getting ready to leave.
In the end, the Becker WPA is worth a visit when you are looking for a fairly short, easy day hike. Oh, if you see any waterfowl, be sure to let us know!!!