Reader question has technical, legal considerations

Joe Vyhnalek takes aim with a Taurus Judge. This pistol can shoot either .45 Colt or .410 shotgun shells. It is the type of gun referenced by a reader that had a very interesting question this week. Can you hunt turkeys with a pistol like this? Read today’s outdoor column to find out.

I recently received a very interesting question from a reader. The question, as presented, was, “I own a Taurus Judge pistol. Can I use a .410 shotshell and hunt turkeys with it?”

It is a very interesting question? However, the real question should be, “Would it be a legal weapon to use?”

Can you hunt turkeys with a Judge pistol? Yes, you could and I’m certain the .410 can do the job because I have taken many turkeys with this gauge. I’d even bet you could hunt turkey-sized game with something like the .44 or .357 magnum shotshells like CCI makes. I’ve used these kinds of shells in .44 and .357 magnum revolvers and they are a great “snake round,” but their range is very limited.

It is the “legal side” of this question that makes me pause and think. Nebraska hunting regulations stipulate that “shotguns” of 10 gauge or less may be used to hunt turkeys in this state. Is the Taurus Judge a shotgun or a pistol? Consider the definition of a shotgun (the word used in the Nebraska hunting regulations). According to the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a shotgun is defined as: Having a barrel length of no less than 18-inches, and an overall weapon length of 26-inches. I don’t think a Judge can meet these measurements.

While it may be possible and fun to hunt turkey with a Taurus Judge, I don’t think it would be legal in Nebraska with the regulations as they are currently listed. I would like to see the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission amend the regulations to allow for pistols like the Judge to be leagal for Turkeys and upland game birds. It certainly would be a challenge.

Lake turnover

Here is another very timely question from a reader. It refers to a natural process that occurs in many lakes in our region. In northern climates where temperatures get below freezing during the winter, the “turnover” of a lake can sure mess up your fishing plans.

The phenomenon of turnover starts when cooler air temperatures begin to cool the water at the surface of a lake. Water will cool and the molecules condense. Water has a very unique property in that it will condense and get heavier down to 39 degrees. Below this temperature, water begins to expand and get lighter again as it freezes. This is why ice floats and forms on the surface of water.

As the surface water cools and gets heavier, it wants to sink. Eventually this cooler water layer does sink and displaces warmer water in the lower portions of the lake and the entire lake “mixes” itself. Top goes to the bottom, bottom comes to the top, henceforth the name “turnover.”

As this mixing occurs, the deeper waters of a lake are forced upwards. This water is generally the “dead” water in a lake. This zone of water has little oxygen and decaying matter on the bottom of a lake often creates sulphurous gases. When this layer of water first reaches the surface it can have a rotten-egg smell. If your favorite lake is normally clear or lightly stained water, and you show up one nice fall day and the lake is cloudy, maybe has an odd color and has a different smell, turnover is probably the reason.

The reason I think turnover can have a big impact on your fishing is that when it occurs it is a total change in the habitat for the fish. Think about it — the water temperature changes, the water clarity changes, and suddenly the oxygen in the water changes as the “dead zone” water rises and spreads out.

Most of the time there is not a severe enough reduction of oxygen in the water to cause a fish kill (although sometimes it does happen) but the oxygen levels change and usually in a negative direction.

Think about what you would be like if some event lowered the oxygen level in the air a percent or so. You probably wouldn’t die, but you wouldn’t feel like exerting yourself either. This is what I think happens to fish. They get lethargic and don’t want to move very much or feed due to a lesser amount of oxygen available to them.

This condition in a lake, depending upon its size, can last up to a few days. Wind and wave action needs some time to re-oxygenate the surface of the lake and things will level out for the winter.

Deer tuberculosis

This was big news in the deer hunting community earlier this week. A 77-year-old Michigan man contracted tuberculosis from what has now been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an infected deer.

In this case, the infected hunter likely inhaled infectious pathogens of bovine tuberculosis, a mycobacterium that can sicken humans, while removing infected organs. The CDC postulated that the disease was transmitted through direct contact with an open wound. How many times have you cut yourself while field dressing game?

The average person’s risk of bovine tuberculosis from deer is low. Michigan and Minnesota have reported this illness. No cases have been reported in Nebraska.

Grizzly bears

If you have any big game permits for northwestern Wyoming or adjacent parts of Montana in the Gravelly Mountains area, you may want to take extra precautions for grizzly bears on your hunt. Four hunters have been mauled by grizzlies in the last 10 days. Biologists theorize that a wetter summer has produced more food sources which the bears are seeking out as they prepare for hibernation. The dense growth can prevent hunters from seeing bears until they are in very close proximity.

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