My son and I are both active flyers of Racing Homers. I spent over ten years as Race Secretary of the Findlay Racing Pigeon Club, and Matt served three years as the hauler and liberator for that club. We are both charter members of the new West Central Ohio Flyers RPC, which encompasses an area within a 25-mile radius of Wapakoneta, Ohio.
We fly a mixed bag of strains and families, but our birds are primarily Meuleman, Janssen and Huysken-VanRiel, many of which are down from some great birds from Al Greenwald. We have also had some success with two families of VanHees, one from Roger Mortvedt of California and the other from Dan Horner here in Ohio. Many of our best dominant opal stock is Janssen/Manor Fabry, going back to a couple Manor Fabrys obtained from Larry Long and the late Steve Hoagland of Iowa. Within the last few years we have added some very nice Hackemer Meulemans via Tim Retell of the Detroit area, as well as some long-distance white Delbars out of CBS imports. Most recently we have added some Gordons from Mike Jenkins and some Dworeks from Barry Venn and Larry Davis.
Without a doubt, the best racing pigeon we ever raised was "950", a 1991 dark check/white flight cock that was only average as a young bird. He was even two days late from the 300 that year. However, as a yearling he began to score, and over the next three years he won a total of 12 club diplomas, with placings from 1st through 5th, including a 3rd at 400 miles. I had planned to race him long enough for him to qualify as an AU Registered Champion (and by today's standards he may have qualified) and then retire him, but he was lost on a short training toss in 1995. An interesting note on 950 is that he was raised out of a pair of birds that have been gifts from other flyers. His sire was an English import from Al Greenwald and his dam was a recessive opal from Larry Long.
Besides all the "standard" colors, we also fly rare-colored homers as part of the race team. In the rare colors we have bred dominant and recessive opal, recessive red and yellow; barless in blue, true silver, recessive opal and brown and khaki; almond, qualmond, faded, reduced, brown and khaki. We have also bred both saddle and baldhead patterns, but at present are not involved with these patterns. We have also on occasion produced reduced brown and reduced indigo birds, and we have come up with some interesting indigo/dominant opal combinations as well. In the summer of 2001 we obtained some odd-colored birds from a local pigeon keeper when he got rid of all his homers to concentrate on rollers. Most of these birds were descended from our own stock, so we thought we knew what we were getting. However, among the 21 birds we obtained from him were some very unusual colored birds that resembled a metallic greyish-yellow barless. All are not 100% identical, as there are some subtle differences in shade between different birds. We call these birds "chrome" and are in the process of trying to figure out just what genes are involved in producing these very attractive pigeons. So far I think we have established that they are on an ash red base and are barless and "dirty". We also thought they were all dilute as well, but breeding tests have recently shown this is not the case. A cock from this line won the 300-mile bond race in 2005 old birds (see below). We have also done some experimenting with the gene for "gimpel", although it has been very limited to this point. We have also dabbled somewhat with toy stencil, but we recently passed those birds on to our friend Tim Retell in Detroit.
In 1995 we won a 200-mile race with "Snoop Chris", a 2-year-old dominant opal cock. (He was also our first bird home on the first three old bird races of '98, placing second in one of them. He died of natural causes November 9, 2002.) On the first young bird race of 1998, a dominant opal son of "Snoop Chris" was our first bird home and on the first young bird race of 1999, a dilute dominant opal daughter of "Snoop Chris" was second bird to the loft. Another son of "Snoop Chris" flew the '99 YB series and the 2000 OB series. We are now breeding out of two of his daughters and a granddaughter as well. In 2004 young birds we had a barless ash red from the chrome family that flew out to 250 miles and won a 4th place diploma at the 100 mile station (see below). We also have worked with a line of crested homers that originated with some crested Jan Aardens obtained from Jerry Crawford of Texas. On our first two young bird races of 1997, a crested Jan Aarden was our first bird home each time. Due to a lack of sufficient space, however, it was necessary to cut down on numbers and we no longer have any birds out of that crested family.
In the 2001 young bird series we handled one of the winning birds, a blue check Janssen cross bred by my good friend Bob Tauscher, in the Findlay Racing Pigeon Club's annual YB futurity race. In 2003 we handled a capital prize winner for Steve Lawler of Washington State.
2002 was our most successful year to date flying young birds. Either Matt or I won five out of nine young bird races, and we placed 2nd and 3rd in the 300, losing by three minutes to a loft on the long end. In the three regular series races we did not win, we placed 13th (out of 249 birds), 4th (out of 83 birds), and 9th (out of 96 birds). We also placed 10th in our annual club futurity, with a bird from Bob Barnes of Detroit. We attribute this success to a concerted effort to keep our birds healthy and to train them rigorously without burning them out. We also believe the adoption of a new race course with fewer clashes with other clubs' race birds has also helped improve everyone's returns in our club. Click here if you would like to see our 2002 club race results. 2003 was another good year flying young birds, but not as spectacular as 2002. We won just one of the young bird races (and an old bird race as well), but we were right up there with several top ten finishers in most of the races. We did very well again in 2004, flying in two different clubs and winning five firsts and five seconds.
Here is a photo of "Joe Rocket", one of our winners from the 2002 young bird season, which was just our second year flying from the new loft. "Joe" is now retired from competition and in the breeding loft while several of his siblings are still flying for us. As a matter of fact, his brother won the first young bird race of 2005.
My main personal goal as a flyer has been to win a race with a true genetic barless pigeon. That goal was accomplished in 2005 when we won a 300-mile old bird race in the Findlay RPC with an ash red barless cock. (Read on for more details on this outstanding - and very rare - pigeon.)
Here is a photo of "The Iceman", 1st place at 300 miles and 4th at 100 miles. "The Iceman" is a true ash red barless, and he carries the genes for dilute and for brown. He gets his name from the "ice" effect on his neck and crop area. His grandfather is one of the original "chromes" mentioned above. He is also down from the browns of the late Bob Eaton of California and is about 1/4 Mortvedt VanHee. As far as we know, this is the ONLY documented case of a true ash red barless ever winning any race any where, let alone a 300.
Here is another photo of an outstanding rarecolor and race winner. This is "Snake River", and he is a spread blue recessive opal. He is now retired and in the stock loft, along with his father (who is much darker), his mother (a recessive opal bar) and two brothers like him.While we're talking about rare colors, you might want to check out this BEAUTIFUL "white checker" cock. This bird is primarily Manor Fabry, genetically dominant opal and indigo, and is just too beautiful to risk losing on the road. If we're lucky we raise one of these every two years or so. Although this bird is unflown, he has three older brothers that have flown on our OB team, one of which flew the 400. In December of 1998 he was first in his class of unflown young cocks at the SOPA winter show in Lebanon, Ohio. After raising a few more white checkers and white bars to carry on the family, he was sold to Romeo Destacamento in October of 2000. Today we have several white bars and white checkers, some of which are just dominant opal and some that are the dominant opal and indigo combination. Often a breeding test is necessary to see if indigo is involved.