When I first saw the Taurus International Judge revolver at the 2007 Shot Show it was being promoted as a self-protection gun and actually got its name because judges in high crime areas of Miami, Florida were purchasing them for personal defense in their courtrooms.
The Judge is chambered for .410 bore shot shells and the .45 colt cartridge, which makes it very versatile. But my thoughts had nothing to do with self defense, but rather with small game hunting in New York State and, turkey in several other states where it is legal and where I hunt each year.
My Judge, has been involved in some very interesting, enjoyable and exciting hunts, and it has issued the death sentence to a number of NYS rabbits and squirrel, a Pennsylvania eastern turkey, a Texas Rio Grande turkey, and several nasty rattlesnakes. And last week, due to changes in the New York State hunting regulations, a Saratoga wild turkey.
These new 2010 turkey hunting regulation state “You may hunt with a shotgun or handgun only when using shot no larger that No. 2 and no smaller than No. 8.” You still are not allowed to take a turkey with a rifle, or with a handgun firing a bullet. My turkey hunting ammunition choice for this hunt was Federal Premium 2 1/2 inch No. 4 shot.
On my first day in the turkey woods with the Judge I had a jake at no more than 10 feet from me. I had the hammer drawn and was about to end the hunt when I heard a loud gobble from across the field and saw a big tom which I assumed was headed for me. I gently lowered the hammer to wait for the bigger bird and ended up with neither. The jake was scared off by the gobbler and I have no idea what scared the gobbler. But on my second time out I did a bit more planning and scouting; and so as not to be tempted to use my regular turkey gun, I left it home in the cabinet.
I was hunting in northern Saratoga County where I had put a big tom with his ladies to bed. I actually watched them two nights and felt confident that I knew their routine. The next afternoon around 1 p.m. I came in the backside of where I thought the turkeys would be and found some very thick brush near the field they had been flying down to; or so I thought. I cut three shooting lanes in the brush no larger than a dinner plate; one on the left, right and in front. My goal was to get a shot at no more than 10 yards. And before I left I placed my two decoy stakes just 5 paces from where I would be hiding. I wanted this gobbler in close.
Early the next morning almost an hour before legal shooting time I slipped into the field, put my decoy bodies out and climbed into my natural blind to wait to see what happen. Perhaps 10 minutes before legal shooting time there was a gobble right where I hoped it would be and for a few minutes I talked with him to be sure he knew exactly where I was. But when he finally flew off his roost it was not into the field but rather away from me. I immediately called and he answered; but he did not come; he was answering, but moving away.
For about an hour he did not answer any of my calls and I thought it was over. And then he gobbled on his own and when I yelped he answered, I thought for sure this time he was coming. But again he stayed in the woods and only answered me every once in awhile. My thoughts were that he had to be with hens and he refused to leave them. I continued to call but did not get any response. Then, about 45 minutes later he gobbled from behind me sending chills up and down my spine; he was very close to me and I dare not move. I did however get my thumb on the hammer of the Judge.
It seemed like forever before he moved but when he did I could hear his spitting and drumming as he moved and came in on my left. He actually scraped against the bush I was hidden in. Slowly I raised raised the Judge and drew back the hammer. And when that red head entered my shooting hole in the brush the Judge spoke and I had my first NYS wild turkey with a handgun. He weighed in at 15 pounds and carried a 5 1/2 inch beard. As for the shot it was no more that 3-4 yards. This was absolutely one of my most exciting turkey hunts ever. That single Federal shotshell casing is now in my gun cabinet along with his beard. If you want to see the photos of my Judge turkey go to, noonanpics.blogspot.com