Field down to 16 with Fin­nick the Fierce out

LONE suc­cess­ful shot high­lights open­ing day of dove hunt­ing

Chicago Sun-Times - - HORSE RACING -

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The field for the Ken­tucky Derby was re­duced to 16 af­ter Fin­nick the Fierce was scratched Fri­day.

The one-eyed geld­ing might have an is­sue with his foot. He’s miss­ing his right eye be­cause of a con­gen­i­tal cataract.

King Guillermo, owned by for­mer MLB All-Star Vic­tor Martinez, was scratched be­cause of a fever. The Derby on Sat­ur­day will have its fewest starters since 2003, when Funny Cide beat 15 ri­vals.

“Be­cause he’s blind on the right eye, he car­ries him­self a lit­tle funny and we al­ways knew that,” Fin­nick the Fierce owner Ar­naldo Monge said. “But ever since he ar­rived, the vets have been keep­ing an eye on the horse.”

Monge said trainer Rey Her­nan­dez, who gets aboard Fin­nick the Fierce for morn­ing work­outs, told him he didn’t no­tice any prob­lem. But Monge said they chose to err on the side of cau­tion and scratch the chest­nut geld­ing.

“I know horse rac­ing is un­der scru­tiny all the time, so I un­der­stand not try­ing to risk that pub­lic­ity,” he said.

The geld­ing will un­dergo fur­ther test­ing. Monge said if he checks out, Fin­nick the Fierce could be in con­sid­er­a­tion for the Preak­ness on Oct. 3.

“It’s a bum­mer, but we’ll be back,” he said. ✶

KEWANEE, Ill. — How do you stretch one mourn­ing dove into a meal? Stay with me. Tues­day was open­ing day for dove hunt­ing in Illi­nois (Sept. 1, as usual). But 2020 be­ing 2020, I missed the first ap­pli­ca­tion for Illi­nois’ free pub­lic-site dove hunt­ing. For the sec­ond, I saw only John­son-Sauk Trail State Re­cre­ation Area had open­ing-day per­mits and drew one.

I had been to John­son-Sauk Trail once. In 2002, a 42-pound muskie was weighed dur­ing a sur­vey. Later, I rode with Musky Hunter’s Jim Saric and Jeff Lampe rode with ‘‘Chef Todd’’ Kent as we tar­geted that muskie. That big girl never was caught, as far as I know.

For oth­ers, the Ryan Round Barn is the defin­ing fea­ture at the site.

As for doves, I wor­ried while bar­rel­ing west on I-80 through driv­ing rain. But the rain abated by the time I found park­ing for Field A.

One key change be­cause of the pan­demic was that there was no stand-by or in-per­son draw­ing. Each hunter re­ceived a let­ter with his or her field and stake.

I miss the so­cial as­pect of gab­bing with clus­tered cam­ou­flaged hunters while stakes are drawn. Don’t mis­read that. I sup­port the pro­to­cols, but I miss the ca­ma­raderie.

At Field A park­ing, I bumped into Jolyn Jack­son, one of the few women site su­per­in­ten­dents. She was born to the job, start­ing as a con­ser­va­tion worker (sum­mer help) at Starved Rock State Park.

‘‘I knew this is what I wanted to do,’’ she said.

Jack­son be­came the site su­per a few years ago. She found out while hon­ey­moon­ing with her hus­band, Tom Jack­son, the site su­per at Illini State Park.

While I prepped, Louis Mor­gan, a Chicago guy who is one of the few Black hunters I’ve come across at Illi­nois pub­lic sites, in­tro­duced him­self. He has an in­ter­est­ing mix on his YouTube chan­nel (Louis Mor­gan).

We talked about hunt­ing at Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area and Iro­quois County State Wildlife Area, then walked out to­gether.

I found my stake, but a guy was there. I scooched down and sat nearly with my back to Doug Kir­gan. Fields were set up with stakes on ei­ther side of a strip of stand­ing corn, fac­ing op­po­site di­rec­tions.

As usual, doves flew im­me­di­ately af­ter the noon start. Af­ter that, it was mostly spo­radic sin­gles and pairs. In be­tween, Kir­gan and I dis­cussed hunt­ing and fish­ing around North Amer­ica and fam­ily mat­ters.

In de­scrib­ing his dog as ‘‘no­tional,’’ Kir­gan gave me a new word.

I bagged noth­ing with my first 10 shots. Most of the oth­ers in the field weren’t do­ing much bet­ter. At 4:30, a half-hour be­fore clos­ing, a dove swung by. I dropped it clean. It was time.

I went one dove out of eight on 13 shots. I had four boxes (100 shells) of No. 7 steel along. At 5 p.m., as I walked out, Mor­gan — who went 2-8-14 — said: ‘‘Mostly star­ing at the sky, hop­ing the rains held off.’’

Rain af­fected some sites more than oth­ers (see chart). At John­son-Sauk Trail, the heav­i­est rain fell in the fi­nal half-hour.

Jack­son emailed Wednes­day that Fields E and C were the top ones, while A had the fewest with 33 doves har­vested. At least I got one.

My one turned into a meal. I stuffed the breast with cream cheese, then wrapped it with jalapeno sliv­ers and thick-cut bacon. Af­ter fry­ing, I made a home­grown cilantroan­d-chives wine sauce from the grease. I plated the breast on long-grain and wild rice, then gar­nished it with home­grown grape toma­toes and pars­ley.

Only har­vest­ing the wild rice my­self would have made it bet­ter. (Some­day.)

That re­minded me that Kir­gan had asked: ‘‘What is on your list?’’

I would like to shoot a black bear — not over bait, but by be­ing in the right spot at the right time. I would like to ar­row or shoot a tro­phy white­tail (missed a cou­ple). I would like to boat a 100-pound tar­pon (busted one off once in Florida). I would like to fly-fish one of the fa­bled trout rivers in Mon­tana.

Af­ter sit­ting in a dove field watch­ing the skies, my mind drifts. ✶

AP

Fin­nick the Fierce, a one-eyed geld­ing, was scratched from the Derby with a pos­si­ble foot prob­lem.

DALE BOW­MAN/SUN-TIMES

The Ryan Round Barn is one of the defin­ing fea­tures at John­son-Sauk Trail State Re­cre­ation Area.

DALE BOW­MAN/SUN-TIMES

A lone dove breast turned into a meal. It was stuffed with cream cheese, then wrapped with jalapeno slices and thick bacon, then fried. It was plated on a bed of long-grain and wild rice and gar­nished with home­grown pars­ley and grape toma­toes.

dbow­man@sun­times.com @Bow­manout­side

DALE BOW­MAN

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