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Bird Hunting for Quail, Chachalaca, Woodcock, Doves, and More in Texas

Bird Hunting for Quail, Chachalaca, Woodcock, Doves, and More in Texas

A blue quail sits on a fence post in Texas

When bird hunting in Texas the big state although known for private land still offers great public lands opportunities for quail to woodcock.

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 eco-regions adds up to big possibilities for bird hunting in Texas. 

Species*SeasonDaily / Possession LimitNotes
American woodcockDec 18, 2020 – Jan 31, 20213 / 9HIP survey required
ChachalacaOct 31, 2020 – Feb 28, 20215 / 15
QuailOct 31, 2020 – Feb 28, 202115 / 45 combined speciesMearn’s quail may not be hunted
Mourning and White-winged doveVaries; see section below15 / 45 combined,
not to exceed 2 / 6 white-winged
See regulations regarding zones and special white-winged dove days
Ring-necked pheasantDec 5, 2020 – Jan 3, 20213 / 9Roosters only
SnipeNov 7, 2020 – Feb 21, 20218 / 24
*These season dates were last updated on August 26, 2020 and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept

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 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. Woodcock hunting is governed by federal migratory laws and a HIP Survey is required.

Chachalaca 

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 October 31 to February 28. The daily bag limit is 5. 

Quail 

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.

The quail season runs from October 31 to February 28, with a daily bag limit of 15.  

Listen: Hunting Scaled Quail in West Texas with Ryan O’Shaughnessy – Project Upland Podcast Episode #27

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 18 to January 3. The Central Zone season runs from September 1 to November 1 and December 18 to January 14. The South Zone season is from September 14 to November 1 and December 18 to January 23. While further regulations apply, the white-winged dove seasons adds the additional days of September 5, 6, 12, and 13. There is a daily bag limit of 15 doves, but not more than two white-winged. Doves are governed by federal migratory laws and a HIP Survey is 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. 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 5 to January 3. 

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

Hunting License Requirements and Fees

License*ResidentNon-resident
Annual hunting$25$132
5-day hunting license$48
Annual hunting – youth$7
Upland game bird endorsement$7$7
Migratory game birds endorsement$7$7
*These fees were last updated on August 26, 2020 and may not reflect any changes since that date. For the most up-to-date information visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept

COVID-19 Restrictions and Considerations

There are no current regulations related to COVID-19 that restrict hunting in Texas, but camping opportunities may be limited in state parks. WMAs are closed to overnight camping. Groups may not be larger than 10 people. Hunters are reminded to observe social-distancing practices and to stay home if feeling unwell. The latest information related to COVID-19 in Texas parks can be found here.

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.

View Comments (4)
    • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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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