APULIA STATION, N.Y. — Many in the deer hunting world know him as Tracker John.
John Engelken is a nationally known, full-time blood tracker. For nearly four decades, the veteran hunting guide has trained and used dogs to track down wounded caribou, bear — and most recently, trophy class, white-tailed deer for clients.
“In a certain sense, I search for person’s lost dreams,” he said recently at his Apulia Station home in south Onondaga County.
“Whether people are for or against hunting, almost everyone would agree that if something goes wrong, it’s absolutely critical to do everything you possibly can to recover the animal,” he said. “Different things can make things insurmountable in being able to find a wounded animal. When that happens, I get called in.”
He stressed all the hunts he’s involved in are “fair chase” and involve “free range” deer.
For Engelken, 65, the blood-tracking business requires him and his dogs to stay on top of their game year-round. He keeps bottles of deer blood provided by outfitters in the two freezers at his Apulia Station home. Several times each week during the off-season, he sprinkles the blood on trails he sets up on nearby private property owned by friends and acquaintances and takes his dogs out for training runs.
With the deer hunting season starting soon, Engelken is getting ready to leave for West Central Illinois, which he called “the land of the…
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