Migratory Game Bird General Rules

Valid Sep. 1, 2019 through Aug. 31, 2020.


All harvested migratory game birds not in the immediate possession of the person who harvested them must be tagged with a wildlife resource document until the birds reach the possessor’s personal residence and are finally processed. If a hunter’s personal birds have been finally processed at a cold storage or processing facility and the hunter transports someone else’s birds, then a WRD must accompany those birds until they reach the possessor’s permanent residence. A person may give, leave, receive or possess (e.g. cleaning or storage) any species of legally taken migratory game birds, or parts of birds, that are protected by a bag or possession limit, if the birds are accompanied by a WRD.

All hunters must keep migratory game birds included in their bag or possession limit separate and identifiable from other hunters’ birds while in the field or during transport to the possessor’s permanent residence, unless accompanied by a WRD.

Processing of Migratory Game Birds

Except for migratory game birds processed at a cold storage or processing facility, one fully feathered wing or head must remain attached to dressed migratory game birds (except doves) while being transported between the place taken and the personal residence of the hunter, the personal residence of another person receiving the dressed birds or a migratory bird preservation facility.

Migratory game birds may be dressed for immediate cooking at a place other than a permanent residence (e.g., hunting camp). This does not include placing dressed birds in a cooler/refrigerator for later consumption while at a place other than a permanent residence.


When shipping migratory game birds, the package must be marked with the name and address of the sender, the name and address of the persons to whom the birds are being shipped and the number of birds of each species contained in the package.

Importation Limit

It is illegal to import migratory game birds belonging to another person into the United States. The number of migratory game birds imported from Mexico or Canada may not exceed the export limit set by the Mexican state or Canadian province from which they were taken. One fully feathered wing or head must remain attached to all migratory game birds imported from Canada or Mexico. See USFWS Game Bird Hunting In Mexico.

Hunting on Public Waters

Waterfowl hunters utilizing public water are encouraged to contact a local TPWD Law Enforcement office or reservoir controlling authority for information on rules or permit requirements before hunting. On public hunting lands owned, administered, or leased by TPWD, a person is required to possess both a valid hunting license and Annual Public Hunting Permit to hunt migratory game birds. Licensed supervised youth under the age of 17 may hunt free of charge on these lands. For more information, check the TPWD Public Hunting Lands Map Booklet available at all TPWD offices, or visit the public hunting website. 

Emergency Rule Changes

These rules may be modified to make them consistent with federal regulations or to protect the wildlife resource through emergency action by the TPWD executive director.

Shooting Hours

  • One-half hour before sunrise to sunset except during the Light Goose Conservation Order and the Special White-winged Dove Season.
  • During the Light Goose Conservation Order: one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
  • During the Special White-winged Dove Season: noon to sunset. See Sunrise/Sunset Computations.

Wanton Waste

A reasonable effort must be made to retrieve any killed or wounded birds and any wounded bird retrieved must be immediately killed and made a part of the bag limit. After retention, the birds must be kept in an edible condition.

Donation or Gift

A person may give, leave, receive or possess any species of legally taken migratory game birds, or parts of birds, that are protected by a bag or possession limit, if the birds are accompanied by a wildlife resource document from the person who killed the birds. For example, a document is required if the birds are being transported by another person for the hunter, or if the birds have been left for cleaning, storage (including temporary storage), shipment or taxidermy services. The document is not required of a person who lawfully killed the birds to possess the birds, or if the birds are transferred at the personal residence of the donor or donee. The document (which can be a hand-written tag) shall accompany the birds until the birds reach their final destination and must contain the following information:

  • the name, signature, address and hunting license number of the person who killed the birds;
  • the name of the person receiving the birds;
  • a description of the birds (number and type of species or parts);
  • the date birds were killed and
  • the location where the birds were killed (ranch and county).

Violation and Penalty

Violation of state migratory game bird regulations also is a violation of federal regulations. A person who violates any state migratory game bird regulation is subject to:

  1. a criminal penalty from $25 to $500 for each bird unlawfully taken or possessed;
  2. civil restitution fee for each bird unlawfully taken or possessed; and
  3. license suspension or revocation.

No person may import into this state or possess a migratory game bird taken outside this state, unless the person possessing the migratory game bird produces upon demand by a game warden a valid hunting license, endorsement, tag, permit or document for the state or country in which the migratory game bird was legally taken. A person possessing a migratory game bird under this section must produce, upon demand by a game warden, a valid driver's license or personal identification certificate. In lieu of the requirements set forth in this subsection, a statement from the United States Customs Officer at the port of entry showing that the migratory birds were brought from Mexico is satisfactory.

Closed Areas

Unless otherwise specified, there are no open seasons on state wildlife preserves and sanctuaries, public roads and highways or their rights-of-way. More restrictive federal regulations may apply to National Wildlife Refuges open to public hunting.

Closed Seasons

It is a violation to hunt a migratory game bird or possess a freshly killed migratory game bird listed in these rules at any time other than as provided in the "OPEN SEASONS, BAG AND POSSESSION LIMITS" section. If no season is listed for a species, the season is closed.


It is unlawful to hunt from or by means of motor-driven vehicles and land conveyances or aircraft of any kind, except paraplegics and single or double amputees of legs may hunt from stationary motor-driven vehicles or land conveyances. It is unlawful to use motor-driven land, water or air conveyances or sailboats to concentrate, drive, rally or stir up any migratory game bird.

There is no open season for migratory game birds on public roads or the right-of-way of public roads.

Federal Regulations

For more information on federal regulations, contact: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 329, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Phone (505) 248-7889 or visit the USFWS website.