Someone for whom I had great respect is Maurice Voets.
A formidable fancier but above all a pleasant person.
He sometimes reminded me of Albert Marcelis. Both seemed to dislike selling pigeons for fear they were no good.
Maurice I met after some tumult in Antwerp a very long time ago, in 1989
In those days there were 3 big feds in Antwerp.
But fanciers wanted races with a higher entry. 10,000 or more like in Holland. Therefore it was decided to unite and form ONE big Fed, the so called 'Overkoepeling'.
The initial success was overwhelming with a huge participation already in the first race. It was a flight with headwinds and the winner was Voets from Kessel.
Hmm. Every race has a winner.
One week later again a real hard race. And oops; The winner was again Maurice Voets. Already some eyebrows rising now.
The third flight was one with tailwinds and fanciers in the 'over fly' were relieved. Now it was their turn. They thought.
But consternation everywhere when Maurice again had the fastest bird from all that had name and fame at that time. It was the beginning of the end of the new Fed in Antwerp.
Because I was already frantically after good pigeons in those days you can imagine who was the first on my list to pay a visit.
From the moment we met Maurice and I were on very good terms and there are 2 things that always stayed on my mind.
- Once a foreigner asked me to buy a round of babies from Voets. When I paid them Maurice pointed at the basket and said (the for me) Historic words:
"I think there is a reasonable chance there are one or two good ones among them."
No bluff like 'all supers' or 'gold 'n the basket' but 'there was a CHANCE!'
- What I never forgot either is the man who I once met there.
A fancier of course and we were discussing successful breeding.
"During many winter days I amused myself by forming breeding couples on paper. But the last few years I practise free mating with the result that I breed more good birds than before," said the visitor.
"That man was Charel Schellens," Maurice told me later. THE Schellens; the man who bought the best birds that could be bought at that time, regardless the price.
Maurice Voets. Photo: De Duif.
The buyer of the Voets birds offered me 2 of them. That was my commission.
I have never regretted it.
Especially the '34' ('Superstar') was a sensation.
He produced National winners, National Ace pigeons or even Olympiad birds for Bros Ulrich, v d Zijde, Poessenauw and Eric Limbourg.
At the time I already realised that the best thing to do with imported birds was to mate them with your own best pigeons.
And all those fanciers, especially foreigners, that kept imports apart in order to 'keep the family pure' were wrong. At least, that is what I thought.
And there was some logic in it.
If you mate an import with a proven good one of yours, you have one 'question mark'.
If you mate an import with an import you have two 'question marks'.
It also takes too long to figure out what the new birds are worth if you mate them amongst each other.
Therefore I tried to mate those 2 Voets birds with my best. But what a misery.
'No love in the air' at all, on the contrary. The loft in which they were housed looked like an 'o.k. corral.' Then I gave up. I put both Voets birds in an aviary. They mated IMMEDIATELY and became parents of my 'Superstar' and associates.
ALSO HOME ALONE
The incident is reminiscent of my 98-5812162.
His father 96-145 (Ace Four) was then a widower and what kind of. He and his nest sister 144 became 1st and 2nd Provincial ace (average 11,000 birds in competition). From such birds you want babies of course.
But again, what a misery.'145' accepted one hen and one hen only. But I could not let this happen. That hen was a sister of its own father.
They were both of my basic pair Mattens x Sissi, but too much inbreed.
During a whole week, I tried '145' to change his mind, since such an inbred pair could only produce clutter. But then (again) I gave up.
I let 145 mated with his aunt.
Accidentally I let a baby of this Incest couple alive, and guess what? One of them became my (98-162) which won 1st against 13.201 pigeons with a lead of 5 minutes in hard weather. Hence the name: 'Home Alone.'
Also its father, '145' I bred by chance. How lucky I was.
An UNPRECEDENTED series of NATIONAL Aces, NATIONAL winners and Olympiad birds in both Belgium and the Netherlands descended from those birds.
Take 2015 alone:
-Luc van Mechelen his 2nd and 7th National Ace birds Middle Distance and also his 2nd National Montlucon (27,000 birds).
-Boeckx his 3rd National Ace sprint.
-B v d Brandt his national Ace Fond.
-Knaven became National Champion with off spring Home Alone.
-Both Jochems van Hasselt and Bart van Oeckel won a 1st National with a grandchild Home Alone.
-A hen named Fleur from Jespers van der Wegen is often described as the best breeding hen in Belgium. It is a grandchild of Home Alone.
-Another grandchild won for Ebben 2nd, 3rd and 4th NATIONAL. He got it from me as an egg.
-Even 'Bolt' from L Heremans (the 320,000 ' bird) is from this line, through Verkerk.
It is farfetched indeed but without Home Alone Bolt had never existed.
Ace Four, the one and only
Honest champions all agree: Breeding a super is mainly a matter of luck.
And it seems you have a bigger chance if you let the birds choose their partner.
Even 'Kannibaal' of D van Dijck was a product of free mating.
An article on Zebra Finches inspired me to write this article.
The title was: "Babies born through love are healthier and more vital." And the author referred to some researchers who had coupled some zebra finches.
Another bunch of finches were free to choose their partners.
Those babies of free matings turned out to be stronger, healthier and more vital.
In more scientific articles you can read that what is born out of love ('affinity') is more vital, stronger and healthier.
'Affinity' is a word that Schellens most probably did not know.
But the message he had apparently understood!