This article was published by Ad several years ago. It offers valuable tips from Staf Dusarduyn who flew at the very top of the sport pre and post world war II. A career spanning 70 years. ENJOY!
The 10 Commandments of a 90-year-old monument
As we all know or should know, neither smoking or drinking is good for your health.
When I asked the Dutch champion Staf
Dusarduyn, a heavy smoker and alcohol was his favourite drink, if he had any
hobbies other than smoking and drinking, he answered. “pigeons and girls.”
I asked him that question when… he was 90 years old, and he had just come back from hunting. No one has ever seen him not smoking, and no one has ever seen him wear glasses. The name of Dusarduyn does not ring like Aarden, Delbar, Van der Wegen, Catrijsse, Vanbruane and so on and that’s good.
He does not belong to that category. He was better, by far the best long-distance racer ever in Holland and Belgium. He has won a record number of first prizes in the National races, 14 or so, and he has won a record number of cars.
I remember the interview I had with him quite well as I had to write a story about him for a Japanese who wanted 10 birds from him. That was a hard time for me. In the first place, he refused to write a pedigree and the Japanese wanted one. I will never forget Dusarduyns words: “What does this Japanese guy want: Good birds or a good pedigree? I do not feel like writing a pedigree as I can write on it what I want to write.”
The other problem I had with Dusarduyn was the price he charges for his birds, which was 50 USD per bird. And my Japanese friend did not want such birds, too cheap, so no good was the way he thought. I told Mr. Dusarduyn it was no problem if he charges more for babies off of his best birds but he refused to raise the price.
Poor me. The trip to Dusarduyn’s was long. I always charge my clients 10 percent. The visit cost me a whole day, half a tank of gas and 10 birds for 50 USD each meant my commission was 50 USD so the whole deal cost me money.
Still, I have never regretted that day. I learned a lot from my visit, and I considered it a privilege getting to know Staf Dusarduyn personally. I will tell you why and for that we have to go back into history: to the ’50s.
I was a child in the early ’50, and the world was quite different then. In those days the little town of Tilburg counted no less than 1,800 fanciers, all my neighbours and all my uncles raced pigeons and in Belgium, there were approximately 200,000 fanciers.
There were three popular sports than in Holland and Belgium: Soccer, cycling and… pigeon sport! As for pigeon sport, there were just a few names everybody talked about in those days: Janssen, Klak, Louis van Loon, Huyskens van Riel, Delbar and… Dusarduyn. They all became world-famous, except for Dusarduyn.
World-famous means nothing, though. You can buy fame. But
Dusarduyn being a simple farmer, has never thought about advertising or paying
people to write about him. Moreover, he always refused to charge high prices
for his birds. Which is not the way to build a name either.
Especially foreigners do not think much of the quality of cheap birds. But in Europe Dusarduyn was already a star before the war. He was superior in the years after and he is still a real big shot, whereas some of the other names I mentioned are already history.
There is a Belgian saying, “reaching the top is far easier than staying there.” Dusarduyn stayed at the top of the sport for more than half a century. It is from people like him we can learn. That’s the reason for writing this article. It is not only a tribute to an oldtimer who feels young but also a lesson we all can learn from.
Before World War II, Dusarduyn was already a household word in Dutch pigeon sport.
He was feared at the long-distance like no one else. Then the war broke out and the Germans confiscated Dusarduyn’s birds.
For five years, it was impossible to race pigeons. But, the first thing Dusarduyn did when the war ended, was to fill his lofts again. He went to Delbar and to a guy called Charel Dhaens. He knew what he was doing.
In the early fifties, his results were better than they had ever been. In both 1950 and 1951, he won 1st national Dax (about 700 miles). After those consecutive victories, nobody counted on winning until Dusarduyn’s clock had been opened. He won National Barcelona(!) in 1979, several times he was champion of ZNB (South Holland) at the long-distances and in 1994 he won the first national Limoges. The question rises who else in the whole world can boast of such a successful career over 70 years?
Throughout the years, methods have changed, competitors were different but Staf Dusarduyn was still the man to beat.
Being so successful over such a long time can lead to only one conclusion: This man knows what pigeon sport is all about. This man has gathered so much wisdom throughout the years from personal experience that the average fancier better listen when he opens his mouth.
That’s why we list some sage advice from Staf Dusarduyn himself. The one and only Mr. Dusarduyn.
ADVICE “The 10 Commandments”
1. Keep everything simple. Believe in good birds and forget most of the rest. There are no secrets or methods to make birds fly faster in the pigeon sport.
2. Do not try to run before you can walk. The mistake many fanciers, especially beginners, make is that they want too much too soon.
3. Forget all about names and strains. Names are made up by the fanciers themselves or their friends in the press. Strains do not exist. There are two kinds of birds: Good ones and bad ones. Of the first category, there are too few, of the second too many.
He started with Delbar-blood, that’s true. Delbar was a name and he had a strain. But that does not mean much Dusarduyn says. “ Delbar would have been just as successful with other birds.
4. Be hard. Do not keep birds because the grandfather was good or because it has cost a lot of money. Do not hesitate to eat expensive soup now and then. Keeping too many birds is deadly.
It’s a mistake many people make after they had some successes and can sell birds. Numerous examples of maintaining a mass of birds show that it was the beginning of the end of a great career. The 90-year-old himself has seldom raced more than six birds. If they are good, it’s enough.
5 Regularity is essential. Especially widowhood cocks do not like surprises. Always be there at the same time. Every day. Many methods are sound. One approach is real bad: To change it again and again.
6. When you race long-distance give a bird at least two years to mature. Most birds with real long-distance blood are at their best at an older age. Long-distance birds are different. The majority cannot win a decent prize at a short distance or as a baby. On the other hand, most good birds at a shorter distance may be unfit to handle the longer distances.
7. Never enter a good “one day bird” in a two-day race.
Birds that have flown the “two-day races” will never be good “one-day bird” again. They become too smart. They know there will be another day and will take it easy.
8. If you try to be a good racer without any medicine or a vet just forget it. This has become impossible. On the other hand, if you think a vet can make you a champion, you will fail too.
9. Mate the best with the best and forget the rest.
10. The loft is imperative for the condition of the birds.
A loft is not good because it is beautiful. If you have ever had good results, you will know for the rest of your life that it is not the lofts that are to blame when the results are not as good any more. It is you or the pigeons. Do not change a loft which has proven to be good.
It has often happened in the past that successful fanciers replaced their simple loft with a fancy one and… they found themselves to be average fanciers from then on. A well-known example is Huyskens van Riel.
Dusarduyn has not changed anything in his lofts for over 50 years.
Oxygen is of vital importance. No medicine against respiratory problems can compare to oxygen.
He had only one black period in his life. That was in the days
after June 6th, 1990, when all his breeders were stolen. Five times a day or
more, he went to his loft as he could not believe people could do this to each
Fortunately, the thieves were caught, the birds recovered but Dusarduyn had suffered. Only, his best friends know how much.
Every reporter visiting Staf asks the same question, “what is the secret to your incredible vitality at such an old age.”
Dusarduyn,’s answer is simple:
“Never sit still and try to get out in the open air as much as possible. Smoke at least 30 cigarettes a day. (No one has ever seen Dusarduyn without a roll you own, in his mouth) and don’t forget to have a few strong drinks every day.”
Thus far the story about a man who is famous in his own country
and unknown abroad.
The story about a man who has competed against, the greatest names in history and who does not fear to-days New Generation. The story about a man who hates to write pedigrees. To him, they mean nothing. He is a lousy bookkeeper himself and never wrote down what his birds were off. It just does not matter to him. Superbirds may throw worthless babies, average racers may produce super birds. The origin must be good but ‘origin’ has nothing to do with famous names or strains. All that matters are results. Many people value a bird higher when one of the ancestors was a good racer or originated from a fashionable loft.
For Dusarduyn, this is all ‘bull’ and 70 years of successful pigeon racing gives him a right to speak and us a reason to listen. As long as Dusarduyn can race pigeons and hunt hares and pheasants (he does not need glasses!), he is happy. Provided he can smoke his roll your own cigarettes and have his daily glasses of alcohol.