Migratory Game Bird Hunting Methods

Valid Sep. 1, 2018 through Aug. 31, 2019.

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

No person shall hunt migratory game birds in this state unless that person is HIP-certified in Texas. The federally-mandated Harvest Information Program (HIP) improves harvest information for all migratory game birds. Hunters who buy a Migratory Game Bird Hunting Endorsement, including Super Combos, will be asked a few simple questions about their migratory bird hunting activities. 

Please report Migratory Game Bird bands. Check migratory game birds harvested (especially doves) for small leg bands and report them to reportband.gov.

Lawful Hunting Methods

  • Shotguns, archery equipment including crossbows, falconry, dogs, artificial decoys, and manual or mouth-operated bird calls are lawful.
  • A shotgun is the only legal firearm for hunting migratory game birds. Shotguns must NOT be larger than 10-gauge, must be fired from the shoulder, and must be incapable of holding more than three shells. Shotguns capable of holding more than three shells must be plugged with a one-piece filler which cannot be removed without disassembling the gun, so the gun’s total capacity does not exceed three shells.
  • Hunting is permitted in the open or from a blind or other type of concealment or from floating craft or motor boat provided that all motion resulting from sail or motor has ceased. Sails must be furled and motor turned off before shooting starts.
  • A craft under power may be used to retrieve dead or crippled birds; however, crippled birds may not be shot from such craft under power.

Unlawful Hunting Methods

It is unlawful to:

  • 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 and a game warden has confirmed removal of baiting materials;
  • place or allow the placement of bait on or adjacent to any area where migratory game birds could be attracted for the purpose of hunting migratory game birds by any person;
  • 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 USDA;
  • use any firearm other than a legal shotgun; use a trap, snare, net, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance; use live birds as decoys; use recorded or electronically amplified bird calls or sounds; or use a sinkbox;
  • hunt from or by means of motor-driven conveyances or aircraft of any kind (including stationary) except paraplegics and single or double amputees of legs may hunt from stationary motor-driven conveyances;
  • use motor-driven land, water or air conveyances or sailboats to concentrate, drive, rally or stir up any migratory game bird; or hunt where tame or captive live ducks or geese are present unless such birds are or have been for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to such taking confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such birds from the sight of wild migratory wildfowl.

Baiting Regulations

Directly or indirectly placing, exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them is prohibited by federal law. Hunters are responsible for knowing whether an area is baited or not.

For further information on federal regulation regarding 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;
  • over natural vegetation that has been manipulated;
  • on or over a normal soil stabilization practice that is defined as a planting for agricultural soil erosion control or post-mining land reclamation conducted in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
  • on or over lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as a result of a normal agricultural practice which is defined as a planting, harvesting or post-harvest manipulation conducted in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the USDA. Does not include the broadcast spreading of seed that is normally drill-planted;
  • 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.

A person may hunt doves over planted crops that have been manipulated for the purpose of hunting. Waterfowl and Sandhill Cranes may NOT be hunted where grain or feed has been distributed or scattered as a result of manipulation or livestock feeding.

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. For more information visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.