Migratory Game Bird General Rules

Valid Sep. 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2018.

NOTE: Hunters are responsible for knowing whether an area is baited or not.


Baiting - A hunter MAY hunt migratory game birds including waterfowl, coots and sandhill cranes:

  • on or over standing crops, standing flooded crops and flooded harvested crops;
  • at any time over natural vegetation that has been manipulated. Natural vegetation does not include planted millet. However, planted millet that grows on its own in subsequent years after the planting is considered natural vegetation;
  • on or over a normal soil stabilization practice;
  • on or over lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as a result of a normal agricultural practice,
  • over crops or natural vegetation where grain has been inadvertently scattered as a result of entering or leaving a hunting area, placing decoys or retrieving downed birds;
  • using natural vegetation or crops to conceal a blind, provided that if crops are used to conceal a blind, no grain or other feed is exposed, deposited, distributed or scattered in the process.
  • EXCEPT waterfowl and sandhill cranes may not be hunted where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered as the result of:
  • manipulation of an agricultural crop; or livestock feeding.

A hunter MAY NOT:

  • hunt migratory birds with the aid of bait, or on or over any baited area;
  • hunt over any baited area until 10 days after all baiting materials have been removed;
  • hunt waterfowl or cranes over manipulated planted millet in the first year after planting;
  • hunt waterfowl or cranes over crops that have been manipulated, unless the manipulation is a normal agricultural post-harvesting manipulation in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


All harvested migratory game birds not in the immediate possession of the person who killed 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.

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.

Hunting Hours

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

Daily Bag and Possession

No person shall possess more than one daily bag limit of freshly killed birds while in the field or while returning from the field to one's hunting camp, automobile or temporary lodging facility (see Documentation above). For the first day of any season the possession limit is the daily bag limit.

The possession limit shall apply at processing facilities and until the birds have reached the personal residence of the possessor and are finally processed (cleaned for consumption). A person may possess additional migratory birds after they leave the field, if the additional birds they possess are tagged with a wildlife resource document from the hunter who killed them. Migratory birds finally processed at the permanent address of the possessor are not considered part of the possession limit.

Doves (please report leg bands to www.reportband.gov):

Migratory game bird endorsement required to hunt any doves in any season. NOTE: There is no closed season or bag limit restrictions for Eurasian collared-doves or common pigeons (rock doves); however, it is recommended that plumage be left on these birds for identification purposes.

Nontoxic Shot

No person, while hunting waterfowl anywhere in the state, may possess shotgun shells containing lead shot or loose lead shot for use in muzzleloaders. Approved shot includes steel, including copper, nickel or zinc-coated steel, bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer (i.e., moly-shot), and any other nontoxic material approved by the Director of the USFWS.

Species Identification

Except for migratory game birds processed at a cold storage or processing facility, or doves, one fully-feathered wing or the head must remain attached to migratory game birds while the birds are being transported between the place where taken and the permanent residence of the possessor. Note: 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. Hunters are encouraged to leave plumage on all doves other than mourning dove, white-winged dove and white-tipped dove (e.g., exotic collared-dove) for species identification. One fully feathered wing or head must remain attached to all migratory game birds imported from Mexico. See the Know Your Doves brochure for further information.


A person may not transfer or give migratory game birds to another person while in the field. After leaving the field, a person must have a wildlife resource document for any migratory game bird not in the immediate possession of the person who killed them (see Daily Bag and Possession). Migratory game birds may be shipped, provided a wildlife resource document accompanies the package. See above for more information on documentation. A sample can be seen at wildlife resource document.


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 into the United States migratory game birds belonging to another person. The number of migratory game birds imported from Mexico may not exceed the export limit set by the Mexican state from which they were taken.

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 www.fws.gov/le