caribou hunting and deer tracking dogs

Illinois Wounded Deer Tracking Dogs

 Our Illinois Trophy Deer Tracking Service

160 class deer and blood dogIllinois 2007 deer season...Monsters!


2007 was a big year with some huge recoveries by Jesse, the bloodhound. Our young shepherd, Sentinelle, got some work in too, following up on the great work she had done earlier in the fall during our caribou season.


bloodhound with 195 droptine

Jesse recovered a great 195” drop-tine buck that had been shot and then jumped by hunters 30 hours after the shot. We got called in the following day. The trail proved challenging, as it required Jesse to successfully work out a ¼ mile backtrack.


Bloodhound Jesse and monster buckThe season highlight was a 30 pointer that went 226”gross green score (it has officially grossed 222” and netted 217" B+C). This find was especially notable since five hunters and another dog had looked unsuccessfully over the course of a day and a half before we got the call. Jesse banged it out despite the preceding day’s high winds and temperatures, trailing right to the big non-typical. Pretty cool; thanks to Jesse, this monster – one of Illinois’ biggest bow kills of the 2007 season – is now in the record books instead of laying unfound and wasted under the blow-down it had crawled under to hide. Mike Hyma was the lucky bowhunter.


Anyone who has ever lost a deer knows the sick feeling,  the stress, and the anxiety of such an experience. Can you imagine the relief and emotional celebration when the bloodhound works its magic and recovers a buck like these? Indeed, the three sweetest words a hunter may ever hear ring out are - "THERE HE IS!".


Blood track from 2008Illinois 2008 Deer Season... bucks and long, cold trails 


2008 was a great season featuring big bucks recovered on some of our longest and oldest trails ever.







2009 blood track 204 inchIllinois 2009 Deer Season... year of big bucks!


2009 featured some BIG recoveries






 2010 An awesome season with bucks recovered up to 212"


 2011 Ready to Rock!


"When it comes to finding a trophy buck, New York's John Engelken apparently has the formula down pat..." NORTH AMERICAN WHITETAIL MAGAZINE


Our Illinois trophy deer blood trailing service 

Our Illinois deer tracking service is a professional, full-time service uniquely oriented toward the specific needs of the trophy hunter. The Midwest habitat and the monster bucks it is known for, often create challenges that when properly handled, demand more of a dog and handler…and let’s face it, when somebody’s buck of a lifetime is on the line, the stakes are higher - a lot higher. When you consider all that you have invested in your hunting, and the trophy you may lose, utilizing anything less than the best trailing team and techniques is simply foolish. 

Mature, huge bodied bucks are tough animals and can often go a long way even with decent hits. This, combined with tightly controlled private ground that is often in relatively small blocks, produces situations where it is often best to wait significant periods of time before taking up the trail. The fear is pushing a wounded deer that has not yet succumbed to its wound onto neighboring property where others might take it, or where access may be denied. Throw in the high winds, warm temperatures and other factors common during bow season, and it makes having the best cold-nosed trailing abilities possible a necessity for truly professional work.

Everything from the dogs we use, their training, handling and experience, to the specific trailing strategies we use, is in place to best meet these  Midwest - big buck challenges. We are dedicated to providing the hunter with his or her absolute best chance at trophy recovery.


"Need expert tracking? You can't do better than John Engelken and his four legged partners."  PETERSEN'S BOWHUNTING MAGAZINE


  • We use true bloodhounds, regarded by most to be the world’s best breed of trailing dog. Unlike the small, easily handled breeds favored by many beginners, bloodhounds are large. and can be difficult to train and handle. We accept, even welcome, these challenges since a professionally trained bloodhound represents the trophy hunter's best chance at recovering their wounded deer under the most difficult of conditions. Having the best nose possible is important, and can sometimes make the difference for you.


  • Our dogs are trained to trail. They will track at times, but trailing often allows them to perform under difficult conditions where the pure tracking dog would fail or burn out.


  • We train intensively and have decades of professional experience. When your buck of a lifetime is on the line, would you really want to entrust its recovery to a less experienced handler hoping to gain training and experience for his dog while tracking your deer? A “free” service could end up costing you big-time.


Remember…  all dogs and handlers are not equally capable. Just because someone has bought, or owns, an  __x-y-z__ breed of blood tracking dog and found a couple dozen deer, doesn’t mean they are qualified to be searching for your trophy.   


  • Our training and trailing strategies are designed for recovering  trophy bucks.  



PLEASE NOTE:  Though ethically, every wounded animal deserves a hunter's best efforts at recovery, unfortunately our service can only handle so many calls. We feel our unique skills are therefore best utilized by reserving our service to searches for upper-end bucks.  Our professional trailing services are now retained on outfitted hunts. We are available for outside calls only when not busy with our outfitter. Apologies, in advance, if our workload prevents us from accepting your call. 

 the best nose in the business







I track monsters™













All animals taken by John's clients. All free ranging and taken fair chase.


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