Wednesday, September 17, 2014


By Steve Lawler


Several firsts were accomplished in this, the fourth year of the Western Open races. Mother Nature gave us a day from Winnemucca when nearly the entire western US was under clear skies…FINALLY! Of course, with clear skies comes the heat and the southern lofts experienced temperatures running in the low to upper 90’s, depending on the locale. Some of the Northwest coastal lofts (Seattle and Portland) faced a late arriving wet front which pushed some arrivals to 2nd day.

However, as has been mentioned many times, a 360 degree release means varying conditions for the wide variety/locations of competing lofts. Tailwinds one direction are headwinds in the opposite; clear and cool in one locale often means clear and hot in another; happy faces in one club usually results in grumpy pigeon men in another. So it is, so it is.

The type and depth of organizational entries for 2014 (from Winnemucca, especially) was so extensive and diverse that an honest effort is being made this year to recognize “regional” winners, along with the traditional mileage category winners. Figuring out actual names of fanciers flying under loft names, did prove challenging.  But with numerous website searches and some assistance from area flyers, that task is completed!

As has been the norm over the last few years, two races were scheduled: May 25thfrom Winnemucca, “Na-VAD-a” and from Carson City, Nevada on June 14th. A three week spacing has proven to be just about the right amount of time of rest between the races and also allows for natural flyers to get their prized, long distance pairs back down on 10-day eggs after the Winnemucca race.

The Show

Act I - Winnemucca

So, here we go! Sunday, May 25th dawned clear with a slight (6 E/NE) breeze in Winnemucca, NV. As is always the case in Winnemucca on Memorial Day weekend, the motorcycle extravaganza “Run-a-mucca” has been in full swing for a couple of days and VERY few revelers were to be seen at this hour of the predawn as several trucks gathered at the ball field complex parking lot overlooking the cemetery.

Randy Bean at the Carson City release.

The 395 Concourse truck was there with Brian Crossen and site liberator, Leonard Lee. Jon Hans and the central California truck carried the Camellia City Combine birds along with the northern California entries. Dr. Randy Bean was there with the southern Idaho champs. Gene Yoes hauled the Montana delegation all the way from Emigrant! And, Bart Fouts was there with the Eastern Washington/Oregon concourse birds on the Spokane RPC truck. In addition, there were birds from flyers in the Evergreen Concourse (western WA) and the Oregon Trail Combine (greater Portland area) on the Spokane truck joining the fray.

Bart Fouts at the Carson City release.

For the first time, there were entrants from eastern and western Washington, and from eastern and western Oregon, and from northern, southern, and central California, and northern and southern Idaho, and from western Montana. (Don’t see your area recognized? Try joining us in 2015.)

All totaled, 124 lofts shipped 1313 birds as reported on the official AU race sheet. The birds went up at 6am under the direction of the AU’s National Race Secretary, John Hundrup, and the race was on.

In the 100-199 MILE category, which was made up exclusively from the Boise and the western suburbs, 15 lofts and 268 birds competed. This group has been staunch supporters of the Western Opens over the four years and has done very well in the process. Taking the blue ribbon in 2014 was a repeat winner, Doc’s Loft (Dr. Randy Bean) with AU 10 IDA 765 BBC at 1458ypm from 186 miles.

In the 200-299 MILE category, 33 lofts and 446 birds competed. This grouping was comprised of handlers from central Oregon (CORP), a few from the longer eastern Boise (IDA) lofts, northern California (Shasta RPC – Redding & the Siskiyou RPC – Yreka), and central California (Sacramento/Auburn, etc.) That’s pretty much three of the four compass points and indicative of the fierce competition going on in the skies as those 1300+ birds try to tug each other in their respective homeward direction.

It takes a true champion to compete on this stage. (Followers need not apply!) This is where your future breeding stock should come. Constantly buying sprint pigeons and then wondering what went wrong when the wind simply blows in the wrong direction or a hawk chases them around won't work.  Those sprint birds are genetically enhanced to fly in big groups, all heading in the same general direction, with best loft location dictating the “champion.” Really???? Someone has been sold a bill of goods…Get serious about what you’re breeding from for next year’s team. You’ll never look back!

Topping this prestigious division was longtime supporter and pigeonworkaholic, Don Chapin from Redmond, OR with AU 11 CORP 2237 BCC at 292 miles and a speed of 1365 ypm.

In the 300-399 MILE category, 21 lofts sent 190 pigeons. This grouping was comprised of lofts from the Columbia Basin Combine of eastern Washington, from the Camas Prairie club in the Lewiston-Clarkston area of extreme SE WA/NW ID, from the Idaho Falls area, and from a longer loft in central Oregon. These are some of the toughest competitors in the NW. They take no prisoners.

The top dog in this section was top-notch flyer, Paul Meyer from Kennewick, WA and the Tri-Cities club with AU 09 TCW 9850 BCH at 369 miles and a speed of 1374 ypm.

In the 400-499 MILE category, 45 lofts sent 362 birds. This was by far the largest section and flyers came from every direction and always bring an attitude! The Spokane RPC, the Bridger Mountain RPC (western Montana), the northern areas of the Columbia Basin Combine (central eastern WA), the northern sections of the 395 Combine (southern, inland CA) and the boys from the “Washington westside” - the Evergreen Concourse. What collection of kickbutt competitors!

Snagging the prize in this prominent category was the 54-year veteran flyer Ed Ulbright, the perennial Spokane RPC Treasurer. Ed clocked AU 11 SPO 1310 BCwfC at 1366 ypm from 473 miles.


OK boys and girls, anyone see a pattern here?

Let’s review:

100-199m, a 2010 pigeon; 200-299m, a 2011 pigeon; 300-399m, a 2009 pigeon; 400-499m, a 2011 pigeon.

How many 3, 4, and 5-year-old birds can you find on your race sheets? Where did they go? How come they aren’t capable of competing for extended careers?

What traits do these Western Open winners have in common that aren’t shared by most pigeons year after year?


In the final category from 500 MILES & UP, 10 brave lofts sent 47 warriors to the biggest challenge on the West Coast. This grouping consists of an incredibly diverse make-up. Northern lofts from the Evergreen Concourse (Everett area) joined the southernmost lofts from the 395 combine (San Diego area) in this section. Talk about a contrast!

These two areas, at the ultimate ends of the spectrum, have such different climates:  warmth in California and the N/Westerners have a more mild climate.  Go figure! Two extremes, in two opposite locations.  Yet, racing against each other in the same division. How cool is that!

Snagging the top spot was Alan Tawfique sporting the Lulu’s Loft colors. Alan clocked AU 13 JEDD 36910 BCC at 11:05am the next day for a speed of 823 ypm from 567 miles.

Overall Observations

The overall results show that the Western Idaho Invitational boys had a field day taking the top 24 of 28 positions. George Lukasik of the IDAHO RPC (same area) took the other four spots in the top 28. Five different lofts (Randy Bean, John Lonkey, Dick Ensley, Todd Williams, and George Lukasik – Pigeon Village) each clocked a bird while taking the first five spots.

Directly following that WII / IDAHO drop, three of the next four sectional winners quickly claimed their prizes. Paul Meyer of Kennewick, WA was 28th winning the 300-399 category; Ed Ulbright of Green Bluff (SPO), WA took the 400-499 division in 31st; and Don Chapin of Redmond, OR took the 200-299 section in 32nd position.

Features on the Mileage category winners will follow over the next several months.

As was promised in the introduction, here’s a rundown of those regional champs who managed to beat the local/area competition:

  • In the Camellia City Combine –Sacramento, CA (13 lofts & 124 birds) Joe Neves of Neves Family loft took the blue ribbon with AU 13 FSC 1048 BBC from 249 miles at 1315 ypm.
  • In the 395 Concourse – Apple Valley, CA down through San Diego, CA (20 lofts & 132 birds) Sonny Cangiarella of Fly Sonny loft was the winner with AU 13 IEIC 3324 hen at 1178 ypm from 478 miles.
  • In the Shasta RPC – Redding, CA (5 lofts & 44 birds) Dan Welch of Royal Oaks Loft took the top prize with AU 11 RO 360 RCC from 238 miles at 1177 ypm.
  • In the Siskiyou RPC – Yreka, CA (4 lofts & 48 birds) Tom Larson recorded the best time at 1302 ypm from 258 miles.
  • In the Evergreen Combine –Seattle, WA up through, Everett, WA (10 lofts & 44 birds) George Dobre of the Blue Danube Loft was the winner through the rain on the second day at 594 ypm from 496 miles.
  • In the Idaho RPC – Boise, Id area (11 lofts & 160 birds) George Lukasik of Pigeon Village was local winner at 1431 ypm from 198 miles.
  • In the EWOC – eastern WA & eastern Oregon (39 lofts & 422 birds) Paul Meyer took 1stoverall with AU 09 TCW 9850 BCH from 369 miles at 1373 ypm.
  • In the Western Idaho Inv. RPC – Parma, ID (6 lofts & 152 birds) Randy Bean of DOC’s Loft took home the bacon with AU 10 IDA 0765 BBC at 1459 ypm from 185 miles.
  • In the Bridger Mountain RPC –Bozeman, MT (7 lofts & 84 birds) the Smetana family captured the flag with AU 12 BMT 3082 BBC at 1273 ypm from 464 miles.
  • In the Snake River Valley RPC –Idaho Falls, ID (3 lofts & 46 birds) Bruce Nykamp was the only one to clock birds and won with AU 12 NYKA 2212 BBH at 1348 ypm from 351 miles.
  • In the Oregon Trail Combine –Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area - 7 lofts did ship 53 birds. Returns were scattered into wet weather. Adrian Buturoaga of A&B Loft had the first bird home from 386 miles.

Act II – Carson City

The second release from Carson City, NV, three weeks later on June 14th, was a less diverse affair and all but the Northern Tier lofts having been chased from the playing fields by the summer heat. Nine clubs from four northern states Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon) shipped 521 birds from 46 lofts to Carson City, NV for the second leg of the 2014 Western Open doubleheader.

Solo clubs from western Montana (Bridger Mountain RPC), southern Idaho (Western Idaho Invitational, [Boise] Idaho RPC, and Snake River Valley [Idaho Falls] RPC) joined the large and expansive Eastern Washington / Oregon Concourse (Columbia Basin Combine – Yakima RPC, Columbia Basin Flyers RPC [Wenatchee/Moses Lake], and Tri-Cities RPC [Pasco/Richland/Kennewick, WA]; Stateline Combine (Camas Prairie RPC & Spokane RPC); and the Central Oregon Racing Pigeon club (CORP) for this longest race of the season. Many lofts were over 500 miles and a substantial number were over the 600 mile marker.

The birds went up at 6am under clear conditions and 46 degrees with light SE breeze at 3mph. As has been the case from Carson City, no one has taken up the offer/challenge to compete in the 100-199 or 200-299 categories. (Where are all those championship level lofts sitting at 100-299 miles from Carson City in mid-June?)

In the 300-399 MILE category, Dick Ensley from Marsing, ID and the Western Idaho Invitational RPC took top honors with AU 11 WII 1425 BCH from 339 miles at 1380 ypm. This mileage division included the WII club along with the CORP club in central eastern Oregon and they sent 241 birds from 11 lofts.

In the 400-499 MILE category, Paul Meyer of Kennewick, WA and the Tri-Cities RPC took the prize with AU 09 TCW 9850 BCH from 486 miles at 1310 ypm. If you have been paying attention, this the same little hen that took the blue ribbon in the big Eastern WA/OR Combine and the entire 300-399 mile category from Winnemucca three weeks prior! This mileage division shipped 60 birds from 9 lofts coming almost exclusively from the southern section of the Columbia Basin Combine.

In the 500-599 MILE category, Bruce Nykamp of Idaho Falls, ID of the Snake River Valley club clocked AU 12 NYKA 2289 BCH from 510 miles at 1488 ypm. This mileage division additionally included the longer sections of the Columbia Basin Combine (Yakima, Moses Lake, Wenatchee, WA), the southern sections of the Stateline Combine (Lewiston, ID/Clarkston, WA), and a couple of lofts from the Bridger Mountain RPC in western Montana. They shipped 120 birds from 16 lofts.

In the 600 & UP category, the Smetana Loft from Bozeman, MT had two on a drop at 7:23pm from 627 miles!

And just to cap it off, they had another day bird at 7:44pm. They had three more the next morning before 10am.

That performance is from 8 birds shipped. (WHAT? Yup, guessing these birds might even breed some pretty good ones one day soon. Imagine they might even help some of those sprint breeders to produce YB’s that can last a season or two.) This section of serious flyers made-up from the Spokane RPC and longer Bridger Mountain RPC shipped 100 gladiators from 10 top notch lofts.

Features on these little champs and their handlers will be forthcoming.

Curtain call

In the final analysis, the Western Opens continue to grow and organizers continue to invite any and all flyers anywhere from 100-700 miles of Winnemucca & Carson City, Nevada to take up the challenge and simply schedule a combined release on Memorial Weekend Sunday at 6am from Winnemucca and three weeks later from Carson City…. This is the best show in the West. Get involved! We’d love to have you join us.

The GHC and GHCLA of Spring Hill, FL Award Scholarships

By Kathy Hackemer

May 2014 marked a milestone for the Gulf Coast Homing Club and the Gulf Coast Ladies' Auxiliary of Spring Hill, FL.  The two organizations awarded a total of nine $1000.00 scholarships to seniors graduating from four local high schools.  This makes a total of $46,000 given to deserving area high school graduates since the year 2000.

The scholarships are funded by both organizations and administered by a committee of the Auxiliary.  Applicants are evaluated on financial need, life circumstances, an essay, recommendations, and career plans to give back to the community.  Applicants do not have to be connected to the pigeon sport; in fact, these scholarships have been a way to reach out positively and educate our neighbors.

The committee was challenged by a quote from one of our winners.  "What if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who can't afford an education?"  After the 2014 recipients were selected, GHC and GHCLA representatives attended each high school's awards ceremony to present the scholarships in person.

In addition, the Auxiliary hosted a luncheon at the GHC Club House for the winners, family, and school personnel.  This year Joan Blesedell served as emcee and conveyed greetings as president of the GHC.  Toni Young also welcomed the guests in her role as GHCLA president.

The class of 2014 is made up of nine outstanding young people who have faced serious challenges:  learning disabilities; death of parents; parents with disabilities or life-threatening illnesses; loss of jobs; and care of extended family members.  But these winners did not give up; they have many achievements to their credit during their high school years.  The GHC and GHCLA are proud to support them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

St. Jude Children’s Hospital Benefit

St. Jude Children’s Hospital Benefit Auction
Celebrating 52 years of helping kids!
1962 – 2014

(ST JUDE'S web site)

Hi all,  I’m Gerald Hebert and I have been the coordinator in this event for the last 2 years and it has been great, but because of health issues, I have decided to step down and let someone younger and eager take my place.  I have enjoyed sending the many benefit checks to St. Jude, and they tell me they were really surprised at how much we were able to raise with this small event.  I want to thank ipigeon (Fred, Fred, and Sharon) for all their help also.  The new coordinator will be John Tierney of Maryland.  I wish him all the luck and please help him as you have helped me in this great cause.  His address and info. is here;

John Tierney
27600 Dawn Acres Lane
Mechanicsville, MD 20659

Welcome to our St. Jude event page. We are hosting this event to raise money that will help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital find new treatments for childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases. You can help St. Jude continue its lifesaving work against pediatric diseases with your donation. Check back often to see our progress. Thanks for helping us reach our goal for the kids of St. Jude!  Our goal for this event is $25,000!

We would like to offer the benefit, with your help, to make sure the wonderful staff at St. Jude Children’s Hospital have no financial problems to continue helping the thousands of children and their families that go there every year to receive treatment for cancer and other life threatening diseases.  It has been a lifelong dream of and my wife and me to make a large contribution to this cause.  But without a big lottery win, or huge bonus, that has not been a reality, so our monthly pledge has been all we can do until this idea came to me.  So with your help, support, and prayers we can make some worthy contributions for the cause!  If we help only one child, it will be worth the effort. 

Please feel free to donate at least one pigeon from your best stock to a worthy cause!  If you will send us photos, pedigrees, and a small description of the pigeon, and what it and it’s family has done in the pigeon racing game, we will upload it and give you credit for the donation on a special page for the auction.  We expect a large amount of donations, so please limit the donation to one per week, so everyone can have a chance to show their support. Other items could be training baskets, timing clocks, or any other pigeon related items.  Even monetary donations will be accepted! Please feel free to bid on the pigeons every week, it is one of the best charities out there, with so much that has been done and so much that needs to be done for these poor children. And it is 100% deductible. Please contact John Tierney to send a monetary donation straight to St. Jude to get the address, etc. so this event gets the credit.

If by any chance you are not set up or don’t have a friend who can take the pictures or scan the pedigree, you can ship the pigeon to me (John Tierney), and we will do all that is needed to make sure your donation gets put into the benefit.  You will not be compensated for the shipping to us if you do that, as we will use the shipping money to ship to the winning bidder after the auction.  If you do your own pictures etc., you will be compensated for shipping.  We are not doing this for a profit, all the money will be sent directly from the auction to the hospital on a weekly basis.  All the shipping money will be sent to me, so that I can compensate each shipper.

Each week there will be a full report listing all the donation items, from whom donated each item, and a total of all that was sent to the hospital.  This will be on a special page set up for this benefit.  If you can also send us a picture of yourself, it will be shown on that page next to your name.  It could be a club event if you would like, and each club make a donation every week, that way it would not be so much of a burden to any one individual to get what is needed done for the auction.

Why support St. Jude?

The support of caring people like you helps ensure that St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will continue its lifesaving mission of finding cures and saving children. St. Jude founder Danny Thomas believed that "no child should die in the dawn of life," and your donations help bring us closer to the day when every precious life can be saved.

How do your donations help?
*       Thanks to donors, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything. Care, housing, transportation, meals—the list of services we provide to our families is unequalled. But it is for one purpose: To ensure the very best outcome possible for every child.
*       At St. Jude, donor dollars help fuel the groundbreaking research that leads to pioneering care and treatments for childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.

How is St. Jude making a difference for sick children?
*       Every child saved at St. Jude means children saved around the world—a direct result of cutting-edge research and treatment that set the standard in treating childhood cancers. And our discoveries are shared freely with doctors and scientists all over the world.
*       St. Jude developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent, when the hospital opened in 1962, to 80 percent today.
*       St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
*       St. Jude has embarked on an unprecedented effort to sequence the pediatric cancer genome and to identify the genetic changes that give rise to some of the world's deadliest childhood cancers.

How are donations used?
*       During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
*       It costs $1.8 million a day to operate St. Jude, and public donations provide more than 75 percent of our funding.

Donate now to help St. Jude save the lives of children in communities everywhere.

Celebrating 50 years of finding cures and saving Children!

St. Jude On February 4, 1962, Danny Thomas opened the doors of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, forever changing the way the world would treat pediatric cancer.
It was the culmination of more than 10 years of work by Danny and his friends and supporters. As a struggling entertainer, Danny had prayed to Saint Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, asking him to “show me my way in life.” Danny had vowed to build a shrine in honor of the saint if his prayer was answered.
View our interactive timeline and experience 50 years of St. Jude.
With his prayer answered and his vow fulfilled, Danny challenged the medical staff of the newly opened hospital to make his dream that “no child should die in the dawn of life” a reality. He tasked them with finding the cures for these life-threatening diseases and asked the American public to support the hospital so no family would ever pay for their child’s care.
At the time, there was little hope for a child with cancer. The survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. The medical staff, led by the hospital’s first director and CEO Donald Pinkel, M.D., took up the challenge.
By 1971, research at St. Jude helped push the survival rate for ALL from 4 percent to 50 percent. Advances also helped improve the outcomes of other diseases such as retinoblastoma (eye cancer), osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and medulloblastoma (brain cancer).

With its unique approach of placing basic research scientists and doctors under one roof, St. Jude could quickly turn laboratory discoveries into treatments.


Originally opened as place to give hope to the hopeless, St. Jude now provides more than just hope to thousands of families. The research at St. Jude has helped to push the overall survival rate of childhood cancer from less than 20 percent to 80 percent, helping ensure that fewer children lose the battle against cancer. For ALL, the survival rate of this life-threatening disease is now 94 percent.
For families in their time of need, the emotional and financial support provided by St. Jude is unrivaled. Thanks to support from public contributions, no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.

St. Jude has also become a world-class institution that has set the standard for pediatric cancer care. Its efforts have been recognized by some of the nation’s top publications including U.S. News and World Report, FORTUNE, The Scientist and Parents.
St. Jude faculty and staff include Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators; Pew Scholars; members of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences; and a Nobel Laureate. St. Jude also serves as the national coordinating center for collaborations, including the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study.

Even with the success St. Jude has had in treating pediatric cancer, there is still much work to be done. “Danny’s dream was that ‘no child should die in the dawn of life,’” says St. Jude Director and CEO Dr. William Evans. And with eyes on that goal, St. Jude faculty and staff continue to rise to the challenges of a new century, marrying the latest technology with a vision and determination to succeed for children and families everywhere.
Initiatives like the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, launched in 2010, offer great promise for driving the future of pediatric cancer research. The project has already generated exciting new discoveries for retinoblastoma and leukemia, and more are on the horizon.
The discoveries and groundbreaking work of St. Jude in its first 50 years have made for a remarkable journey—from one man’s vision to one of the leading pediatric cancer centers in the world. But St. Jude always has its eye on the future and the exciting possibilities that await the doctors, scientists, families and children of a new generation who continue to benefit from Danny’s dream.