Hard questions (October 3rd)
-Youngsters should be trained early
-You have to have to train them often.
-They should travel on their own first
-Never train with wind on their nose.
-Start close to home, two kilometers is far enough.
-Do not jump them any further until they beat you home.
All well-intentioned advice you can hear and read everywhere. But what do we have to think of the following? It is as incredible as it is true.
Pigeon racing has changed a lot over the years. But what has not changed during my pigeon career' are the large numbers of stray young birds trapping into my loft. That was so 20 years ago, and it is no different today. Recently, in just two days, I had eight strange young birds in my loft.
I usually put them in a separate section, where they are cared for. When they have recuperated, I toss them outside my loft, but almost without exception, they don’t leave. Finally, as a last resort, they are released a few km from home. That’s what I did with these eight strays.
The youngsters were taken a distance from home. It was very cloudy with heavy showers, but the air was not ‘foul’ as they say here. Furthermore, there was a strong southwest wind, and because they were all ' Dutchmen,' I thought the odds were quite good that they would go home, all the more because all the young birds wore an e-band. They probably had already race. From a distance 32 kilometers they were set free. But... To my amazement, they were all back in the loft the same evening. To be clear, back in MY loft.
Take my pigeons that far for their first training toss, I wouldn’t dream of it, not for all the gold in China. Not even the old birds. My thoughts went out to those countless young birds who were lost from no less than 5 or 10 km from home and to all those who had been able to get their pigeons out five times or more before they took them out to 10 km. And I thought of the youthful Dutch champion V D Wetering.
One could read about him that the first training toss for his youngster is from tens of km from home. Hard to believe, this had to be a misunderstanding. Therefore I asked Christian himself, and it was indeed true. In fact, from that distance, they were released one at a time. They don’t come home very good, but they do come back and, with limited losses. I believe him after what I experienced with those eight strays.
I also had to think of a long-distance fancier. He does not expect his young birds to perform and that they are sent to Quievrain for their first toss, for him about 120 km. ' They come home with the rest, he says, but there is a but. He wouldn’t dare to do it until August and September. Now I do believe that pigeons with long-distance blood in their veins are less easily lost.
I then reported the youngsters to the administrator of a central loft in a neighbouring village. One of them, a magnificent youngster, had a marker band with a phone number. I called the owner. He lost the young bird from a training toss of barely 7 km. “Let him loose,” he said. "It is too far for me to come and get him." "Let him loose?" I didn't know what to say. Just imagine, a pigeon which has flown around its loft for months and is too stupid to find its home, from only 7 km with its loft mates, comes back to my loft from more than 30 km. while it has barely flown around here. I had to think of that enthusiast with a foreign-sounding name from De Pinte.
De Pinte, in a straight line, is 103 km away. A youngster, lost from a training toss, strayed in here. I was told to let him loose. He indeed flew back to the Pinte then back here again and that it did several times, back and forth. We could not do anything with that pigeon, and in consultation, with him I gave him to Mathijs, the youngest member of a club in B N. There jas to be something other than stupidity, inadequate health, distance and experience or whatever. Especially in June, youngsters seem vulnerable. But why?
These, “but why,” occurrences happen more often. For example, shipping only one pigeon to Barcelona and winning a Top ten National (Limbourg). Or a pigeon from Barcelona traps into another loft only a few km from home. Or from middle distance race, clocking 100 pigeons in just over 6 minutes (de Bruijn). Or ten pigeons drop on the roof together from a 750 km race (Verkerk). Or 50 pigeons clocked in just over two minutes (R v Tilburg). Or many youngsters lost, which can happen very fast. At least for some.
The Berlaar region is home to a whole series of Lambrechtsen, the one flys better than the other. But what Carl recently achieved is unheard of. He had entered two pigeons for Blois. They were clocked within a second of each other. On 12.48.16 hrs to be exact. Regionally they won 1 and 2. To be sure very impressive.
A year or so back, we were cycling along the Nete and the surrounding area. A cup of coffee was drunk on a comfortable bench. Now a pigeon fancier sees every loft and every pigeon that flies over. In that area, your eyes are very busy. A group from one fancier was noticeably different, they flew with a lot more speed than the others and also considerably higher. They were from a blue-painted loft. “ They have form',” I said to my wife. Two weeks later I had an appointment with the R. V d Brande brothers. They lived across from that comfortable bench. Those pigeons that had such a condition were theirs and had performed enormously the week before. How those men can get their nest pigeons to exercise like that is a mystery to me. Because they were young pigeons on the nest!
I always claim that winning the first prize is relative. Take August 10th. There was a robust Southwest wind, and in Rijkevorsel the 1st pigeon was clocked ' on 23 '. It flew 2,100 mpm. Shortly after that, ' De Cel ' (Marcel Wouters) called. What time? “On 23. Marcel.” “It’s a matter of seconds, I clocked on 19.” I knew right away that I could not match those speeds. We were too short, Marcel’s pigeon would make more meters. But here it comes: our pigeon won the first prize in the Zav and also in the combine (1,380 pigeons). Marcel’s pigeon DID NOT win the 1st in the Union. I recalled from long ago when a Japanese fancier was searching for winners against more than 1,000 pigeons in Antwerp. Our pigeon he would have gladly wanted, but, not Marcel’s pigeon who did better.
I think back on the first prize winners on the extreme west side (or east side) of a combine that places only a few birds on the combined result, because of unfavourable winds. And to that provincial winner from Barcelona in Antwerp years back. It brought a nice sum of money from Japan. In Steenbergen, the then long-distance mecca, it would hardly have won a prize.