I always remember
It was back in 1974 that I wrote my first article about pigeons. I was still very young and had no money.
But the lust for good pigeons and the wish to learn about this sport I already had.
Therefore my first articles were loft reports. I hoped that the champions about whom I made publicity would show their gratitude by giving me good birds for free.
And I was very much interested to see the lofts.
My first report was about the late Mr Zoontjens. I remember the lofts had no ventilation at all, even a fly would not be able to get in or out.
Shortly after I was in the lofts of Janssen brothers and the late Hofkens and I felt confused.
Unlike the loft of Zoontjens their lofts were open with much ventilation. So at a young age I already realised there are many roads to Rome.
Later on many articles would follow and also some books.
Some of my visits to champions I will always remember.
Albert Marcelis was a short distance champion and a good one. His so called "Sprint" is supposed by many to be the best sprint bird ever (26 x 1st).
He had never spent a penny on birds and... he was nearly successful with all the birds that he imported (from local guys).
He must have been a good handler!
One of his principles was to always wean babies at a very young age. 23 Days old was the maximum.
Those that cannot handle this are not strong birds he always claimed.
Diels, Boeckx, v d Wouwer are other examples of champions who never paid for pigeons.
Leo Heremans is not a stupid pigeon man either. Back in 2004 I bought many babies from him for a Taiwanese, my commission was 6 young birds.
When he was at my place one year later Leo asked to see the birds I got from him. I showed him and then he said: "This 2004-124 is 100% sure a super".
But NONE of them appeared to be any good. Five birds I eliminated, I kept 04-124
I kept 04-124 because of what Leo had said but I had my doubts and thought by myself:.
"So you can also be wrong Leo." .
But he was NOT wrong. Two years later 4 of its GRANDchildren turned out to be fantastic racers.
The best was the 11-1821732 that won:
6.692 p - 4th
27.056 p - 4th
7.005 p - 2nd
3.004 p - 4th and so on.
Regional this 732 won: 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 4, 5, 6.
People often say "nobody can know if a pigeon is any good", but Marcelis and Heremans must be an exception.
Klak birds (Janssens) are history now in Holland and Belgium, but in the 80-ies and 90-ies this was different.
Once a fellow fancier named v d Loo went to Klak to buy 4 babies and I accompanied him. Klak charged 250 euros for each baby.
"This is a lot of money" v d Loo complained.
Klak: "And honestly speaking, chances are little there is a good one among them".
v d Loo looked at him questioningly.
Klak smiled. "I am not kidding. Believe me, I do not breed a good pigeon in every four". Yes, I am talking about the world famous Klak indeed.
He reminded me of Maurice Voets.
Klak, the one and only.
Voets is another fancier who became famous with birds from local guys that he got for free. Around 1990 he was said to be the of Belgium.
Though he raced few birds only he became a nightmare for his competitors. And his club was expelled from provincial races (Union Antwerp) one year later.
Once I went there to buy 16 young pigeons, cheap birds in fact.
When I took leave he wished me good luck and said:
"I would be surprised if there would not be ONE OR TWO good ones among them."
He did not brag about Golden Couples or Super breeders or ALL of them supers or other bla bla.
"ONE or TWO good ones" he hoped for me.
Dilen from Ravels was another fancier who never got the credits that he deserved.
In the 80-ies and early 90-ies I got birds from him and I never got a bad one.
He did not become famous because he did not race many birds (4 maximum) and he did not race long distance.
And racing many birds AND long distance are conditions to get a great name abroad.
When he entered 4 birds he mostly won 4 prizes.
His secret was to kill bad pigeons, sell the good ones and only keep the supers.
Special about him was also that he never ever medicated.
When I was there once I noticed that a bird slightly suffered from canker. I showed him and then he spoke the historic words: "I have a good remedy for that".
Then he went to a little shed. I thought he would get a pill but he came back with an axe. What happened after that you can guess.
BOSUA AND CLAESSENS
Talking about selection I must think about Bosua and Claessens. Long way back I shipped birds from them to Japan. When I once saw the pedigrees I knew they would become champions.
Among them were birds with such good results as many others never had. But for their standards they were not good enough!
When Vanlint started racing in Belgium he did not have a high opinion about Dutch pigeons. He thought Belgians were better, but not for long. He had no other choice than to change his mind after he won Nationals with Dutch birds he got (again for FREE) from a friend. You ain"t much if you ain"t Dutch. Ha.
VAN DE WOUWER.
Back in 2007 I went to Gaston v d Wouwer to buy pigeons. He put 8 in the basket and I picked out 4. They cost me 100 euro each.
"Why do you not take them all?" he nearly begged me. I did NOT, which turned out to be a big mistake. In 2012 he sold babies through the Internet for 4.400 euro average.
Which bank would have given me so much interest?
V d Wouwer birds are "a fashion" now. Like the birds of De Rauw Sablon.
And if you want to make money easy and quickly you should deal in "fashionbirds".
You must know I got 3 babies off the Olympiad from Gust Janssen/Leo Heremans.
I paid 1.000 euros for them TOTAL. Recently their brothers and sisters were sold for 10,000 euro and more. EACH! I got rid of mine. They were no good !! Later I heard one was sold to China for 12,000 euros.
Poor pigeon sport.