Bird Hunting in Texas

Bird Hunting in Texas

Bird hunting in Texas: go big or go home.

In the minds of many, Texas is incorrectly thought of as one big desert. All that reveals, however, is that they have not spent any time in its eastern forests, lower marshes or central plains. Even the region that contains desert, the Trans-Pecos region, has wooded slopes on some of its mountains. The diversity of these ten ecoregions adds up to big possibilities for bird hunting in Texas. 

In addition to a valid hunting license, the state of Texas requires an Upland Game Bird Stamp endorsement for small game hunting. The resident license fee is $25 and the non-resident special hunting fee is $132. There are a number of other licenses offered for bird hunting in Texas, though. Senior residents (65 or older) can look to pay $7 as can youth hunters. A non-resident will pay $48 for a 5-day special hunting license. 

American Woodcock

American woodcock distribution in Texas is not entirely known. As a migratory bird, of course, American woodcock only spend some of their time in Texas. The entrance and exit of woodcock into the state depends mostly on the weather. For example, the biggest influx of woodcock is caused from possible severe low temperatures at the end of the year. If the winter is really bad, you can probably find a good number of woodcock in the eastern portions of the state. 

The American woodcock season runs from December 18 to January 31, with a daily bag limit of 3. 

(Governed by Federal migratory laws. HIP Survey required)


One of the birds that makes bird hunting in Texas unique is the enigmatic chachalaca, which derives its name from the sound of its call. The bird spends its time enjoying an activity few other game birds enjoy: roosting on the branches of trees. This practice earned the bird the nickname of “Mexican Tree Pheasant.” You can find chachalacas in scrubland and tall thickets. They are distributed from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas to Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and beyond. 

The chachalaca season takes place in the four counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy. It runs from November 4 to February 25. The daily bag limit is 5. 


The three kinds of quail in Texas — bobwhite, scaled, and Gambel’s — are all good options for bird hunting. Scaled quail, also known as blue quail, are found in the western third of the state, while Gambel’s make their habitat in the Trans-Pecos region. Of the three, however, bobwhite quail are typically the most common statewide. There has been some decline in the quail population, but the fluctuating population levels are a distinct phenomenon for this species. If you are a non-resident and want to hunt banded quail, there is a separate license fee of $27. 

The quail season runs from October 28 to February 25, with a daily bag limit of 15.  

White-Winged and Mourning Doves

Dove hunting in Texas is divided into North, Central and South Zones. White-winged doves have their own special area. For more detailed information concerning the zones for bird hunting in Texas, check the website for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. When hunting dove in Texas, it is important to check the doves for leg bands. Though they are easy to overlook, you must report doves with leg bands. 

The North Zone season runs from September 1 to November 12 and December 15 to 31. The Central Zone season runs from September 1 to November 5 and December 15 to January 7. The South Zone season is from September 22 to November 8 and December 15 to January 21. While further regulations apply, the white-winged dove seasons adds the additional days of September 2, 3, 9, and 10. There is a daily bag limit of 15. 

(Governed by Federal migratory laws. HIP Survey required) 

Other Species for Bird Hunting in Texas

There are other great species for bird hunting in Texas. Wilson’s Snipe, a migratory bird, and rail seasons are available. The season dates are October 28 to February 11, September 9 to 24 and November 4 to December 27. In addition to snipe and rail, ring-necked pheasant are open for bird hunting in Texas. While not a native bird, there are healthy populations in the Texas Panhandle. Pheasant season in the Panhandle runs from December 2 to 31. 

Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Texas Bird Hunting

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

American Woodcock Society

The Hunter Safety Course and Dog Training for Bird Hunting in Texas

The state of Texas requires anyone looking to buy a hunting license to have met the requirements of the corresponding hunter education programs. There are three ways to get that education certificate for bird hunting. The first is a classroom course that will take six hours. Another option is a four hour field day plus an approved online course. Finally, Texas offers an online course for Texas residents that anyone over 17 can take for $34. For further information, go to the online hunter safety course. 

You may train your dog for bird hunting in Texas during established seasons on specific hunt areas.

The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Texas.

Last modified: May 5, 2018

4 Responses to :
Bird Hunting in Texas

  1. Seth says:

    Does this mean I need to take their Hunter safety course even as a non-resident?

    1. A.J. DeRosa says:

      Good question! The state of Texas does recognize out of state hunters education certificates. As worded on their website “Texas recognizes Hunter Education certificates from all other states and provinces. You will need to carry a proof of that certification on your person while hunting in Texas.” Thanks for the input!

  2. Jason Brooks says:

    There are actually 4 species of quail in Texas. Mearn’s quail occur as isolated populations in the western hill country and mountains of the Trans-Pecos, although there is no open season for them. So be aware there could be a protected species depending on where you hunt.

    1. So a Texan who’s only birded in Tennessee thanks to father Inlaw and my English setters I was hooked I’m in Beaumont area with a new Gordon Setter ,Where is “THE PLACE” to go ?? Thanks Rodog

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