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DEER THUG Justin Eakins on Managing Lands for Turkeys As well As Deer


Editor’s Note: This week Justin Eakins, one of Mossy Oak Deer Thugs, tells us how he manages and hunts deer on 30,000 acres at the end of the season on his land at his Canadian River Hilton Hunting Lodge in Crawford, Oklahoma, and how he grows a crop of bucks that he doesn’t plan to harvest for 4 years. Eakins has been deer hunter for over 30 years. 

Our hunting lodge isn’t just a one trick pony. We not only manage our land to produce older-age-class bucks, we also manage the land for wild turkeys. Turkey season isn’t far off at all. We have some of the finest turkey hunting out here in Oklahoma, as you'll find anywhere in the United States. We have Rio Grande turkeys, and each season we’ll harvest about 70 longbeards off our property. We manage our turkeys much like we manage our deer. We try to not put a lot of hunting pressure on our turkeys every spring. We average 100 percent opportunity to take a turkey. Most years, we average 100 percent success on harvesting turkeys with all our clients harvesting longbeards. Again, just like we manage our deer herd, we manage our turkey flocks to produce older-age-class gobblers. 

EakinsJ5_llThree years ago we had an unbelievable hatch. With plenty of turkeys being born last year, we had an exceptional year for young poults to be born and then move into the huntable population. So, we know we've got a lot of young birds for this season and quite a few longbeards carried over from last hunting season. This season we should have a really good number of 2-year-old turkeys, and a large number of 3-year-old gobblers. So, we’re expecting a great turkey season this spring. Our turkey season starts April 6 and runs until May 6. We offer a two-bird, 3-day hunt. In Oklahoma, hunters legally can harvest three gobblers during the season statewide. But on our property, we only permit hunters to take two birds to keep our gobbler population high year-after-year. 

We offer guided hunts and semi-guided hunts. Whether the hunt is guided or semi-guided, we always put one guide with every two hunters. Our semi-guided hunts are for the turkey hunters who like to do their own turkey calling, and they enjoy almost hunting by themselves. We tell our semi-guided hunters where the turkeys are, where the turkeys are most likely go to after they fly off the roost, and where the hunter may want to set-up to call to the turkeys on the roost. We also tell them where they may want to set-up when the turkeys fly down from the roost, hit the ground and start feeding or watering. On the guided hunts, our guides take the hunters to the places where the turkeys roost. They do the calling and the strategizing. We all have a good time. 

On most hunts, you're going to have the opportunity to call to more than one turkey each day. Those Rio Grande turkeys really enjoy gobbling. During turkey season, we hunt 35,000 acres, and we never have more than six hunters at one time hunting that much property. If you run out of room to hunt turkeys on our property – you’ve just messed up. To hear and often see a lot of turkeys in open country, don’t overlook the State of Oklahoma for your spring turkey hunts this season.  

To contact Justin Eakins, call his cell phone at 580-497-7500, and leave a message. His home phone is 580-983-2500, the website is, or you can email him at

Day 4: DEER THUG Justin Eakins Tells How He Raises and Manages for Mature Bucks on Large Tracts of Land

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