Deer hunting big bucks in Illinois can be fun, but it can also be very difficult. Mature whitetails are often big-bodied and tough as nails. Even when it appears they have been shot in just the right spot, they can survive to live another day. Here at Illinois Connection, we have Tracker John on retainer. Tracker John is one of the best deer trackers in the country. He and his bloodhounds are known for recovering bucks others can’t find. “Sometimes when a big buck is shot, they run a short distance and die. Other times they go a great distance and hide in thick, nasty brush which can make finding them extremely difficult,” Tracker John said.

Last fall, Mitchell Loyd hunted at Illinois Connection and arrowed a really nice buck. However, the recovery didn’t go as planned. “We put in a ton of effort to recover Mitchell’s buck when he shot it but sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Even though we tracked the buck, it was unrecoverable at the time. I had a pretty good feeling that the buck was going to eventually die, so we told Mitchell that we would like to do an area search for his buck after the season closed and maybe we would be able to find it,” Tracker John noted.

When Tracker John does an area search, he and his dogs basically cover as much ground as they can looking for the dead deer. “When doing an area search, we can’t follow blood or fresh scent; we are looking for a needle in a haystack. I cover as much ground as I can and hope that my dogs smell a dead deer. I am hoping that dead deer is the buck we are looking for.”

Tracker John does a few area searches for Illinois Connection every year. “When deer hunters come here, they are hoping and dreaming that they will kill a big buck,” said Doug Benefield, the owner of Illinois Connection. “When the hunt doesn’t go according to plan and a buck isn’t recovered right away, we make every effort to find that buck even after the hunter goes home because we know how much a big buck means to the hunter who shot it. In this case, Mitchell didn’t think we would recover his buck but luckily for him, Tracker John was able to recover the deer. We work hard to find every buck that is shot at Illinois Connection.”

Below is the email Doug Benefield received after Mitchell got the call from Tracker John.

“I wanted to thank you for the best phone call I’ve ever gotten yesterday when “Tracker John” called me and said Willa and Janie found my deer. I’ll admit that I had doubts, but I have been thinking and wondering about a possible recovery in my head. I wondered if that deer was still walking around that farm or was he dead and being chewed on by every squirrel in Brown County? As a client, to take off a week to go hunting is the highlight of our year. No matter how many deer we kill over the years, the anticipation of “next year” is what keeps us going.

You have a top notch organization and business and I don’t say that lightly. I appreciate the effort and the commitment to the clients we’ve seen. I’ve hunted with a lot of outfitters and killed a lot of deer in the States and Canada, but I would put Illinois Connection at the top of the list. Thanks for not giving up and making that anticipated “next year” one to remember!”

Mitchell Loyd