The 10 Commandment of a 90 year old monument
Smoking is not good for your health as we all know and nor is drinking.
Dutch Staf Dusarduyn was a heavy smoker; alcohol was his favourite drink and when I asked him if he had more hobbies than cigarettes and booze his reaction was:
Pigeons and girls.
I asked him that question when… he was 90 years old and he had just come back from hunting. No one has ever seen him not smoking and no one has ever seen him wear glasses. The name of Dusarduyn does not sound like Aarden, Delbar, Van der Wegen,
Catrijsse, Vanbruane and so on and that’s good.
He does not belong to that category. He was better, by far the best long distance racer ever in Holland and Belgium.
He won a record amount of first prizes in the National races, 14 or so, and he won a record amount of cars.
I remember the interview I had with him quite well as I had to write a story about him for a Japanese who wanted 10 birds from him.
That was a hard time for me. In the first place he refused to write a pedigree and the Japanese wanted one. I will never forget Dusarduyns words then:
‘What does this Japanese guy want: Good birds or a good pedigree? I do not feel like writing a pedigree as I can write on it what I want to write.’
The other problem I had with Dusarduyn was the price he charges for his birds, that was 50 USD per bird. And my Japanese friend did not want such birds, too cheap so no good was the way he thought.
I told Mr Dusarduyn it was no problem if he charges more for babies off of his best birds but he refused to raise the price.
Poor me. He lived very far, I charge my clients always 10 percent, the visit cost me a whole day, half a tank of gas and 10 birds for 50 USD each meant my commission was 50 USD so the whole deal cost me money.
Still I never regretted the deal. I learnt a lot from my visit and knowing Dusarduyn personally I considered to be a kind of privilege. I will tell you why and for that we go back into history: to the 50-ies.
Then I was a kid and the world was quite different from now.
In those days the little town of Tilburg counted no less than 1,800 fanciers, all my neighbours and all my uncles raced pigeons and in Belgium there were approximately 200,000 fanciers.
There were three popular sports then in Holland and Belgium: Soccer, cycling and... pigeonsport! As for pigeonsport there were just a few names everybody talked about in those days: Janssen, Klak, Louis van Loon, Huyskens van Riel, Delbar and... Dusarduyn. They all became world famous later, apart from Dusarduyn. That means nothing though.
Fame you can buy. But Dusarduyn being a simple farmer as he is never even thought about advertising or pay people to write about him. Moreover he always refused to charge high prices for his birds which is not good to build up a name either.
Especially foreigners do not think highly of the quality of birds which are cheap. But in Europe Dusarduyn was a star already before the war, he was superior in the years after and he still is a real big shot whereas some of the other names I mentioned are already history. There is a saying on Belgium that reaching the top is far easier than staying there. Dusarduyn stayed at the top for more than half a century. It is from people like him we can learn. That's why this article. It is not only a tribute to an oldtimer who feels young but also a lesson we all can learn from.
But first some history.
Already before World War 2 Dusarduyn was a household word in Dutch pigeonsport.
He was feared at long distance as no body else. Then the war broke out and the Germans also confiscated Dusarduyn's birds.
For five years racing pigeons was impossible but the first thing Dusarduyn did after the war was to fill his lofts again.
To Delbar he went and also to a guy called Charel Dhaens.
He did the right thing.
In the early fifties his results were even better than they had ever been. He won both in 1950 and in 1951 1st national Dax (about 700 miles) and ever since nobody was sure to be the winner before Dusarduyn had delivered his clock. He won National Barcelona(!) in 1979, he was several times champion of ZNB (South Holland) at long distance and in 1994 he won the first national Limoges. The question rises who else in the whole world can boast of such a succesful career of over 70 years?
Throughout the years the methods have changed, competitors are different but Staf Dusarduyn is still the man to be beaten.
Being so succesful over such a long time leads to only one conclusion: This man knows what pigeon sport is all about.
This man has gathered so much wisdom throughout the years from personal experience that the average fancier better listens when he opens his mouth. That's why some good advice by Dusarduyn himself. The one an only.
1. Keep everything simple. Believe in good birds and forget much about the rest. In pigeonsport are no secrets or methods to make birds fly faster.
2. Do not try to run before you can walk. The mistake many fanciers, especially beginners, make is that they want too much too soon.
3. Forget all about names and strains. Names are made up. By the fanciers themselves or friends in the press. Strains do not exist. There are two kinds of birds: Good ones and bad ones.
Of the first category there are too few, of the second too many.
He started with Delbarblood, that's true. Delbar was a name and he had a strain. But that does not mean much Dusarduyn says.
With other birds he would also have been succesful.
4. Be hard. Do not keep birds because the grandfather was good or because it has cost money. Do not hesitate te eat expensive soup now and then. Keeping too many birds is deadly. It's a mistake many people make after they had some successes and can sell birds. There are numourous examples that keeping a mass of birds was the beginning of the end of a great career. The 90 year old himself has seldom raced more than six birds. That must do if they are good enough.
5 Regularity is very important. Especially widowhoodcocks do not like suprises. Always be there at the same time. Every day. Many methods are good. One method is real bad: To change it again and again.
6. When you race long-distance give a bird at least two years the time to mature. Most birds with real long-distance blood are at their best at an older age. Long distance birds are different. The majority cannot win a decent prize at short distance or as a baby. On the other hand most good birds at short distance may be unfit to handle the longer distances.
7. Never enter a good 'one day bird' in a two day race.
Birds which have flown the 'two day races' will never be good 'one day birds' again. They become too smart. They know there will be another day and will take it easy.
8. If you try to be a good racer without any medicine or a vet just forget it. This has become impossible.
On the other hand if you think a vet can make you a champion you will fail too.
9. Mate the best with the best and forget the rest.
10. The loft is very important for the condition of the birds.
A loft is not good because it is beautiful. And if you have ever had good results you will know for the rest of your life that it is not the lofts which are to blame when the results are not so good any more. It is you or the pigeons. So do not change a loft which has proven to be good.
It often happened in the past that fanciers who were succesful replaced their simple loft by a fancy one and... they found themselves poor racers from then on. A wll-known example is Huyskens van Riel.
Dusarduyn has not hammered a single nail in his loft for over 50 years. His lofts are still the same as they were half a century ago. Oxygen is of vital importance. No medicine against respitory problems can compare with oxygen.
He had only one black period in his life. That was in the days after June 6th 1990 when all his breeders were stolen. Five times a day or more he went to his loft as he could not believe people could do this to each other.
Forunately the thieves were caught, the birds recovered but Dusarduyn has suffered. His best friends know how much.
One of the questions he is asked by every reporter who visits him is what is the secret of his incredible vitality at such an old age. According to Dusarduyn this is simple:
a. Never sit still and try to be in the open air as much as possible.
b. Smoke at least 30 cigarettes a day. (No one has ever seen Dusarduyn without his own made cigarette in his mouth) and..
c. Don't forget to have some strong drinks every day.
So far the story about a man who is famous in his own country and unknown abroad.
The story about a man who competed the greatest names in history and who does not fear the New Generation of to-day.
The story about a man who hates to write pedigrees. To him they mean nothing. He is a bad bookkeeper himself and never wrote down what his birds were off.
It just does not matter to him. Superbirds may throw worthless babies, average racers may produce superbirds. The origine must be good but 'origine' has nothing to do with famous names or strains. What matters are results. Many people value a bird higher when one of the ancestors was a good racer or originated from a famous loft.
For Dusarduyn this is all 'bull' and 70 years of succesful pigeonracing gives him a right to speak and us a reason to listen. As long as Dusarduyn can race pigeons and hunt hares and pheasants (he does not need glasses!) he is happy. Provided he can smoke his own made cigarettes and drink his daily glasses of alcohol.