Editor’s Note: Justin Eakins owns Canadian River Hilton Hunting Lodge in Crawford, Oklahoma, on the Canadian River. Justin hunts on 25,000 to 30,000 acres of land and has been one of the co-hosts on Mossy Oak’s “Deer T.H.U.G.S.” TV show for 6 years.
Mossy Oak: Jason, How many guides do you have?
Eakins: We provide a guide for every two hunters. We try and put our hunters in areas where chances of taking a really-big buck are best. We also tell our clients, “You may not see many deer from the stand. But, if you spot a buck, he most likely will be a big buck. For the hunter who wants to see a lot of deer, I can put him on top of a hill overlooking a green field. Our hunters may see as many as 50 deer over those food source fields in the afternoon.
Mossy Oak: What size deer are you taking off the properties you hunt?
Eakins: We’ll take bucks every year that will score 150 to 160, but we won’t take the bucks that are 180 or better or 200 inches. Our average buck will score 135 points, and that’s with 95 to 100 percent of our hunters harvesting bucks. We have some hunters who come here with numbers in their heads. By that I mean, they’ve already decided the size of the racks they want to take before they arrive. I really don’t like to score a deer’s rack. I tell my clients that if they see a deer that they really want to take, then take him.
Oftentimes, I’ll ask a hunter who just has taken a deer here at Canadian River Hilton Hunting Lodge if he likes the deer he’s taken. Most of the time he’ll tell me his buck is a great deer and the biggest one he’s ever taken. Then they ask, “What will he score?” After I score the deer, they’ll say, “I wish I had taken a buck that would score better than this buck did.” In my head, I’m thinking, “This hunter liked the deer he took, and it’s the biggest deer he’s ever taken, so why should the score matter?
Another customer will come into our lodge before the hunt and ask, “I don’t want to take a buck that scores less than 150 points on Boone & Crockett.” I’ll usually tell the hunter, “We take a few 150-plus bucks every year, so we’ll keep our eyes open and look for a buck that will score 150 or more. But, I want to be real honest with you and tell you that the chances of us finding a buck that will score 150 or better while you’re here are pretty slim. When we find a buck that size, your chances of taking that buck are even slimmer.” Then I say, “Do you see any bucks that we’ve found here at the lodge that you’ll take?” The hunter then will pick out one of the bucks on the wall and say, “I’d take that buck right there,” and point to one of our mounted deer. Then, I’ll point to another deer and say, “Would you take that deer?” The hunter usually says he will take that deer. I say, “That’s what I need to know, because the deer you’re looking at and really want to take will score about 131 on Boone & Crockett. Most people don’t know what a buck that scores 150 B&C really looks like. We’ve found that most of our hunters are extremely satisfied with the size deer they take out here.
To contact Justin Eakins, call him at 580-497-7500 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: THUG Justin Eakins’ Favorite Deer Hunt