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Another converstation or talking to myself (May 31)

Another Conversation or Talking to myself

Peter and I had a conversation about pigeons at the end of which he said: “it was great, you will have to do an article on it.” So, why not, I thought and decide to have a conversation with myself. I decided to ask myself questions and answer them.

Name some of the highlights of your long career in the pigeon sport.

There are too many to mention. -The ‘National’ victories from Orleans a while back of course. But it was not just the victories. According to the then NPO (a national news journal) several times I was the best of all of the Netherlands.

-The semi-national race from Chartres on which I placed 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 32nd etc. clocking 24 of the 34 birds shipped in the prizes, with my first three pick birds at the front.

-There was that very tough Etampes when I won the 7 first series of 3 pick birds. That is, I had my 21 first picked birds before anyone else had their 3 first pick birds and I also won the first 5 series of four. That is the 20 first selected birds before anyone had their first four.

-Something else that greatly pleased me was the president Marinus at that time, during the annual award ceremony said, that he never had experienced such dominance, not with old birds or the youngsters. Don’t think I didn’t feel several inches taller. I still have the newspaper article.

Ad Schaerlaeckens 19 years old 

And the lows

There were plenty of them. Especially the famous disasters, one from Homburg Germany and even worse was the race from Pithiviers in 2017. I lost 9 of the first pick birds, thus 9 of my best. Among them several excellent children of Ace Four which had placed 1st against large numbers. Also, the famous sisters 026 and 091 to Home Alone were lost. For example, earlier they had won from Pithiviers against about 9,000 pigeons 1st and 3rd. Jespers v d Wegen famous breeding hen ‘Fluer’ comes out of them. No longer being allowed to pooled after the famous Etampes, I thought was a compliment as well as the fact that none of the clubs in our area wanted to have anything to with our club because of me.

Ever make big mistakes?

Countless. One of those mistakes was to get rid of the direct Vandenabeele pigeons in the 90’s. They included children of the ‘Colonel’ (father Rudy), the ‘Wittenbuik,’ the ‘Turbo,’ the ‘Stier,’ the ‘Kleinen’ and so on. In particular, from a son of the ‘Kleinen,’ we bred the 2nd Provincial Ace Pigeon Short Distance on my loft. The National Ace Pigeon fond for Rens v d Zije and the ‘World Champion Fond,’ for Cor Leytens also came out of Son Kleinen x Sissi. The last one is a different story. The pigeon couldn’t find it’s way home from 5km. So, away with it. If a pigeon is that stupid how dumb would, it’s youngsters be. However, one remained, and it would become the 2nd World Champion Long Distance. Getting rid of the parents (for 150 Euro) of the mother to Marcel Wouter’s ‘Ad’ was not too bright. I didn’t have a lot of faith in a pigeon from Luc van Mechelen. Out of its son, ‘Adriano’ Luc bred 4 National Ace Pigeons. In other words, I got rid of too many pigeons I should have kept and kept too many I should have got rid of.

You have the necessary experience. Which system do you think gives the best results?

The second best system is racing with hens, (the cock stays home). Even better is two hens paired to the same cock. So 10 cocks (who stay home) you can race 20 hens. A disadvantage is that you must be home when the birds arrive because obviously there will be chaos in the loft.

Frustrations? Of course. Especially the amateurism in our sport. After a century and a half, we in the pigeon sport still fly with different chances for the National Championships and Ace Pigeon awards, we still have various pooling systems, and there are numerous systems for determining championships. Shame! Countless fanciers have a significant problem with those who ship 100, 200 or more than 300 pigeons to a single race. They think it is a threat to the sport. A while back, weren’t racing pigeons the thoroughbred racehorses of the ordinary man? The small fanciers feel as if they are drowning and both the KDBD and the NPO seem to be deaf and blind. The big shippers aren’t breaking any rules, and it is justified by “the large numbers they ship make the sport more affordable,” but fanciers who barely ship ten racers don’t belong on the same race result as the 97th pick bird from such a large shipper. What annoys me is in their reports and ads with race results, the number of birds shipped by the fancier in question is not shown. Because they prefer that the reader is not aware of the shipping numbers, of course.

The deal has been made. The Janssen book will be released. The author, 2nd from left, has lost much of his plumage (black hair).

Further More

Fond fanciers have begged in vain for years for fewer long-distance races. Flying three long-distance races on the same day of which two are barely 100 km apart from each other is passed to level of ridiculousness. I’m annoyed when policy makers lie. The KBDB tells fanciers that the sell the leg rings at cost. Then how can they cost half as much in the Netherlands? A million rings are sold. The net price is about 7 cents. The KBDB sells them for a euro (or more), the NPO for 50 cents. You can do math quickly, the KBDB receives half a million euros more than the NPO, and the NPO is making a significant profit.

What do you think is the biggest ‘nonsense’ in the pigeon sport?

Pairing on a full moon. Also the view that the brothers and sisters of a good pigeon will also be good. Nothing guarantees that a pair that have produced a good pigeon will ever do so again. I don’t take people that claim they can make up good breeding seriously. They also breed large numbers of youngsters, and that says enough.

You sometimes hear that no one knows anything about pigeons, your thoughts?

Some of them know a bit, others pretend they do.

Name some people that according to you “know a bit.”?

Leo Heremans can’t be too dumb. Jos Wouters Coreman once picked out the best ones here, and don’t ever let veterinarian Marien choose one. He had his eye on a couple of ordinary young dark blue hen once, sisters. He tried till almost midnight to take them home. But, luckily I didn’t give in. One of them became the mother of the ‘191’ the 2nd National Ace Pigeon NPO middle distance and better than the one ahead of her, but that’s another long story. Luodo Claessens also “knows a bit.”

Did you have a teacher?

Not really. You have to learn ‘it’ on your own. Especially from you mistakes, but you have to recognize them. Gust Christiaens was/is someone apart, but he opened my eyes with regards to hygiene, pedigrees, strains and so much more. Once I unexpectedly arrived at his place on a Saturday morning. To my surprise, the pigeons that had to be basketed that evening were already in his carrying baskets. They were cocks, flying to the nest. Gus said, they must skip a sitting, then they perform better and trap quickly. I learned, he was right.

Who could you make happy with a few young pigeons?

Hmm, Difficult to say. Peter Janssen from Kleve perhaps?

Where do you think the good pigeons are? And where the not quite so good?

For the long distances in Noord Holland. Ever heard of Sam de Jong? Man does he ever have the good ones for the 1,000 km races. That’s what Nico Volkens found out. For the middle distances, I have doubts: South Holland or Antwerp. I would rather not answer the second question. Otherwise, I would find a bomb under my bed.

And Short Distance?

Where they have always been, in Antwerp and in the centre. So, it has always been, and so it is probably, yet. Where di the Janssens, the most famous fanciers of all time, get their base pigeons? From, Schoeters, Ceulemans, Vandenbosch, Cas Goossens, all of whom lived in the Berlaar Herenthout region. In my Janssen book (1984) I mentioned Gust Hofkens. He believed that Berlaar Heikant was the Mecca of the pigeon sport. Because, there was a lot of to be earned even from Quievrain, barely 100km. Few dared to compete there. Hofkens did. Even now there is still seriously pooled.

Won’t the large amounts currently paid for pigeons ruin the sport?

I wouldn’t know why. Indeed it is chasing soccer, but so what. At least it gives us some publicity. For me, those people with too much money and too little pigeon knowledge can spend to their hearts content. They frustrate but don’t hurt anyone. Also, it has become a lot clearer in recent years. PIPA began as a news medium and became a trading house for pigeons. Naturally, the two do not go together. News is now of minor importance at PIPA.

You said publicity, is that really so important?

Indeed. One reason the sport went backwards is that we weren’t in the picture anymore. Once every daily newspaper, certainly in Belgium, had a weekly ‘pigeon page.’ There was even a time when every Friday night on the Belgian national public TV just before the news someone (Pol Jacquemeyns) held a pigeon chat. For many decades, half of Belgium five minutes before the hour, just before the news, was glued to the radio listening to the race release new. Then one knew what the weather was elsewhere. Every Belgian knew where Quievrain and Noyon etc. were. Now, after many years without TV, newspaper or radio coverage, some ask if the ‘pigeon sport’ still exists? Or asks ‘what’s that?’

What do you like about the pigeon sport?

Anyone can participate. You don’t have to be an athlete, young, rich, a male or highly educated. Although, ‘anyone?’ with the advent of mass shippers has become less so.

Are there people you admire?

All those people who fly poorly but without complaint keep on racing. Also, those people who have reached the national top, without spending much money. One of the most talked about champions of Belgium is one of them: W. Daniels. I also have a lot of respect for men like D v Dijck, Harrie Smolders, W de Bruijn, Gebr. V. d. Brande and all who donate so many youngsters to help finance the clubs etc. I can’t even think about it, I would not be able to handle all the visits. Admire? You can add Jos v d Veken Retie to them. He was unbeatable a half-century ago and still is.

In closing any advice?

- Partnerships should be encouraged. The partner can be your wife, your son, your father or a neighbour. It doesn’t matter who your partner is, as long as there is less pressure and you have a bit more freedom and are less tied up. - Don’t keep any more pigeons than you can handle and specialize as much as possible. - Don’t look for the answers in medications and by-products. Strive to develop pigeons that can do without them. Much misery begins with the first young bird that gets sick and not removing it. - Do not get carried away by fancy pedigrees and what I call ‘name madness.’ Especially foreigners want only name pigeons. What is the reality? Many .became great with no-name pigeons obtained from no-name fanciers from their own area.

And this Here is something for the KBDB and the NPO. Currently the ‘Champions League’ is in full swing. Interest has declined globally because the results have become too predictable. The high prices have struck an enormous blow. In a neighbouring village, many people followed the pigeons sport closely and were curious about the winners. That interest is now gone. Two fanciers began racing large numbers, and it is now rather exceptional when they don’t win. Thanks, Ad

Glad to do it. AS



The Janssens became world-famous with pigeons from Berlaar and Herenthout region. Left underneath one can see that just in that one village there were 250 fanciers. Now would there be 10% left?The deal has been made. A book will be published. The author (middle) has lost much of his plumage (black hair).