Pigeon Fever ~Back At The Old Roost… Henk Simonsz

Dear sports friends,

As the title of this article indicates, I have not been active in the pigeon sport for many years. In the mid nineties, I sold all of my pigeons via the sports magazine ‘De Duif’ because I had to make a choice between two hobbies, both of which I pursued with a passion. The one was sport fishing and the other was the pigeon sport. In the end I chose sport fishing because I was able to make a living from that and in my experience; you can only do one thing really well.

Although sport fishing has been and still is very profitable for me, in my heart I have always remained a true pigeon fancier. I never cancelled the subscription of my favourite sports magazine, and through it I stayed well informed on the developments in the pigeon world. I also still have friends who participate in the pigeon sport, which kept the connection with the sport intact, although at a lower level.

In 2010, one of these friends told me that Wil Brouwers would come to visit him and would I like to be there as well. I certainly did, because I had once made a sales catalogue for De Duif when the then Combination Brouwers-Kodama wanted to sell their pigeons, and my contact with the family Brouwers had been very pleasant. I had also been very impressed with the quality of their pigeons, especially the line of the ‘National King’. This dark checker cock with orange and gold eyes not only succeeded in winning 1st National Bordeaux yearlings, but also in winning 1st National Munchen, which meant that he flew the lead position on the South line of flight and on the East line, and that is something that not many pigeons are capable of doing in my opinion. For that matter, that whole bloodline was super, with among others the ‘Profi’ and many other cracks.

A young bird bred from fantastic pigeons. The mother flew amongst others a 1st in the Combine, a sister flew 1st NPO over more than 600 kilometers.
The top photo was taken after weaning of a beautiful young cock.
The bottom photo is 2 weeks later, the same pigeon with a bad case of coli. The rest of the young birds are not affected. Dilemma; using medication or not…? Next time the answer…

On my advice, the pigeon friend who invited me to the visit of Wil Brouwers bought a beautiful young hen from ‘National King’, which he never had cause to regret from the above mentioned sale. The bird was expensive, but in hindsight was more than worth it. From the very first eggs that she laid she produced a car winner against more than 20,000 pigeons. Admittedly, she was coupled to a fantastic Ad Schaerlaeckens cock, which is a nice story in itself and which I would like to tell you another time. Well, Wil Brouwer came to visit my friend and wanted to buy all remaining children (seven) that he still had out of that daughter of the ‘National King’… but before business was started, the three of us shared many good memories and brought each other up to date with pigeon news. Wil knew a lot about China and the developments in that country. This was both interesting and instructive.

After these pleasantries we went into the lofts and, as I said before, Wil wanted to buy all the ‘National King’ descendants. We held them in the hand once more, and fortunately, my friend didn’t decide to sell straight away. Despite the serious amount of money that was being offered, he didn’t capitulate immediately, although he did hesitate. Afterwards, I have never been so glad that I went on that visit, and for two reasons. The first was that I was able to prevent my friend from selling off the core of his colony, and the second was that because of the talks with Wil, I decided that I wanted to start again with the pigeon sport, with breeding, racing, or whatever. Time wise it was not really advisable, but the urge was too strong. So strong in fact, that I wanted to find a solution at whatever cost.

The rest of the young birds with different ages all together, same loft, same circumstances. Super healthy and active. These pigeons,besides the required vaccinations, have never had any medication, not even against canker.

As a re-entrant to the sport, I had a fairly fresh view, and it wasn’t long before I came into contact with the good and not-so-good developments that the sport had been through over the past years. I noticed them even more because I had not been involved in the sport for a time, and could now clearly see how the pigeon sport evolved as a hobby and sport during this time. The competition from other hobbies is of course enormous, and also changes in society have a lot of influence.

The first ideas and plans that I had was to specialise in a specific part of the sport. I thought that I wouldn’t need so much time as a result, and that I would be able to achieve better results against the hard core lofts that were already established. I hadn’t made up my mind yet which part that was going to be, and it also depended on the race program that my region provided. I didn’t live in my old home town of Ede anymore, where I had my roots, but had moved to the North of the Netherlands, where we found a fantastic spot with lots of freedom and tranquillity, also for the pigeons. Because of the Internet phenomenon, the world had also become a very small place. In no time I had read up again on practical topics such as lofts, clocking systems and all kinds of automated systems that provided solutions to a fancier with not much available time.

I also learned quickly that in terms of feeding and training, a small revolution had taken place. Which was particularly important to me, because it made it all a lot more labour-intensive. And within no-time I was confronted with a few (especially for me as re-entrant) strange things of which I would like to write at a later date. Enthusiastically, I embraced the pigeon sport again, and I expected the pigeon sport to be happy with new members. Which turned out to not strictly be so and the bureaucracy also seemed to have increased rather than have diminished. I don’t like to start writing negatively, because I loathe that myself, but there have been occurrences where I thought by myself… gosh, does it really have to be like this…

All in all, I am very glad that I have started again with the pigeon sport, and fortunately the solidarity among many fanciers is still strong. Of course, you don’t have to be friends with everyone, but it is fantastic to talk about the sport with like minded fanciers. And I quickly experienced that there is still a lot of hospitality and camaraderie within the pigeon sport.

This summer bred youngster has been moulting for a while, still with three old nest flights.

The choice that I had to make of which area of the sport to participate was not the most important thing at the time. I just wanted to start as quickly as possible with building up a breeding loft with in my eyes the very best that was available. Top quality pigeons are fortunately still the basic principle for success in the pigeon sport. In my own way, I had by now fairly well explored the practical side of the pigeon sport, and noticed what the biggest problems are for most fanciers. The biggest problem in the region where I wanted to race was the size of the federation and the strong competition. Everyone will of course say that of his own federation, but nonetheless, I was very much impressed with the quality of the pigeons in my region. And of course as re-entrant I wanted to explore how to create more of a head start, besides buying top material. One of the things that was most noticeable was the health problems in many lofts. It seemed to be difficult for many fanciers to keep the team healthy. Very soon I had made a plan of action with which I hoped to achieve better than the competition in the areas of breeding, health, training and some other smaller topics.

I had ambitions enough, but I think that that is the way to start if you want to achieve something. Over the years, I have found that in the pigeon sport, success does not come automatically, and in the pigeon sport, 1+1 does not always make 2, but you have to believe in something when you want to start again.

The kind of pigeons that I was looking for, besides being of the highest quality, were birds that could keep a superb natural health, without having to rely on the usual given medication (besides vaccination). On paper, this looked like a great plan, and in due course I should automatically build up a stock of pigeons that would be stronger health wise than the pigeons of the competition. At that moment, I had no idea of the consequences of this plan, but very quickly I started to realize that I had chosen a very difficult path, with hopefully the reward at the end… I went from one dilemma to the next… a fantastic pigeon, but not very healthy… dispose of it or not…? In the next article, all this will be discussed. And also the conclusion I had to make that, with the present level of the sport  I would not have enough time to start racing myself, not even with a far advanced system.

But luckily, there was to be an unexpected alternative…

Henk Simonsz