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Hints (4 january 2017)

Pigeon racing is also a matter of good observation. Champions see things that others do not see. And pay attention to things that others do not mind. Thus it's always been and it still is. Take pigeons coming home from a flight. They are a prelude to the following result.

There was this race early in the spring of 2016. Bart van Oeckel and his father stood in my yard to watch the home coming of the birds. I told them my expectations were not too high, since the condition was not good. They looked at me as if they wanted to say: 'We know you better." But I was not bullshitting them. In previous years those races in spring were often destroyed indeed and that must have been the reason that they did not believe me. Then came that first bird. It landed but instead of entering the loft it began to drink from the gutter. "It is not eager to enter’ Bart said. He could not have characterized it better. And the result was as I expected, Far from good.

How different it was a few weeks later, April 30th . Half an hour before I expected the birds to arrive home from a race I was having a coffee. Then I frowned. Did I hear something? And was not that a beep? I looked at my watch. Too early. Some moments later a pigeon indeed whizzed down. Its speed was frightening. I looked at the clock to check out which bird it was and I startled. Some moments before I had indeed heard something. This was my second pigeon. They won 1st and 4th against no less than 18,471 pigeons. In September, something similar happened. When I expected the pigeons from a race, it felt as if I noticed a shadow. It was a pigeon indeed that won 2nd from 11,928 pigeons. In the 90-ies Klak used to come to my place to watch the arrival of the birds from National Orleans. On one such a race he had more luck than van Oeckel. I stood right before the loft and then a bunch of birds arrived. They nearly flew the hat from my head. It looked as if they did not see me, so much the birds were fixated to enter. ‘Never seen such a thing’ Klak said. And I seldom had a result that was so good. The arrival of the birds is very meaningful. Early birds, so the pigeons that are in good shape do not hesitate, but trap like hell.

In those days, before electronic clocking, it often happened that fanciers missed a bird. They found it in the loft and costly seconds or even minutes were gone then. Personally, I could sometimes limit the damage, due to my ears. If I suddenly heard a lot of cooing I hurried into the loft to find a bird there that I had not seen.

Seemingly trivial things sometimes mean a lot. There was once that super bird that got lost from a race. There are not many things that I hate more than losing good pigeons. And if days later, it comes back, you cannot believe how good I feel. Once there was that smash. On the day all birds were home apart from my best. Three days later I said to my wife: 'I think he's back, " and I pointed to the loft. A pigeon was sitting on top. ‘Have you also red birds?’ she asked. Because this was a red one. But I did not mean that one. A stray bird on the loft often means a bird that was lost is IN the loft.

When birds are training it may happen that one bird will be gone four hours. You think about a hawk but hours later it is there. The same bird is often there from the race that follows, before all others. "I should have known" you think. The opposite also happens. When you release the birds one refuses to get out.  ‘Because it is too much attached to the nest box’ you fool yourself. One race later you know better: The bird does not win a prize. If you release your birds, both young and old, they must be waiting for you with long necks to storm out with a deafening noise. When you turn around you must not see them anymore. Pigeons in form do not make one round but fly away in a straight line toward distant horizons. They should get back scattered in groups, as it were.

You can also learn a lot from road training. The first few times you toss young birds mean nothing. It is rather normal they get home far later than you. But this will change. Then, by car, you cannot beat experienced birds any more, no matter how fast you drive. And when you get home they have to be inside. If some are still fiddling outside, something is wrong, there is no form.

Once I was at Verbree, a good handler, and saw some young birds were sitting on top of the loft. They did not move. ‘I have tossed them in the morning’ Co said. "Not good, Co," I reacted. "No, not good," he responded. Later I heard he had not raced his babies for two weeks: Adeno.

Most of us have had those special years they never forget, because in that one year they bred so many good pigeons. Far more than in several other years together. For me 1998 was such a year, especially a race from Etampes was memorable. Now you should know that I used to toss my birds once a week, the day before basking, at Brussels, that is 70 kilometers from my place. On one such a day it was hot with strong head winds. I had four baskets with me, with about 15 birds in each of them. Every 15 seconds or so I opened a basket. I drove home like crazy (in those days there was much less traffic and no speed control) hoping I would get home before the birds. And so I did. I was just home when a bunch of about 15 birds arrived. Some seconds later another bunch, then a third group and after that the last. For a moment I was puzzled, but then I understood. The had gotten home ‘basket by basket’. The birds that were released later had not been able to catch up with the previous group. The result of the race that followed, from Etampes, was as memorial as sensational. One of my best ever.

'Turbo 882'  one of the many real good birds that I bred in 1998. It is a son of
Supertje 144, and was Provincial Ace in 2000. 'Supertje' was Provincial Ace in 1996 (average
over 11.000 birds in the races).     

Are you not sure about the condition of your birds? Hit the road with them and release them in groups with a short interval. Do they catch up with each other and get home together? The condition is not as it should be. 


 Legendary 'Home Alone'. Amongst its descendants several NATIONAL Aces and NATIONAL winners. One more bird of the 1998 team.


 '185' from 1998. Father was a son Kleinen from Vandenabeele. 185 was 2nd Ace Sprint Interprovincial. I was so stupid as to sell it, since I thought the bird could not handle long distance. How stupid I was. I gave Leytens Bros a brother that became father of 'World Champion' long distance.    



 'Invincible' (191) also a 1998 bird. It won 10 firsts and was 2nd best bird of ALL HOLLAND.



 'Big Brother'  (98-165) another Champion from  the fantastic team that I bred in 1998.