Thursday, November 4, 2010


I just realized that my best bird ever, the young bird that came within 42 seconds of winning the big race, was the one I had to stitch up before training because she got damaged by a hawk.  Tiny little hen.  Never would've guessed her to nearly win a 300 mile race as a young bird.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Big Race - 42 seconds to win

3331 Click - Good hi-res
It was hard work. Two and a half extra hours before work boxing and driving the birds down for training - several days a week. I sat out the 225 the week before because it would start off with a head wind. I felt that would grind them down too much before the more important Futurity and Triple Crown race the next week. Instead, I sent them on the short race which was later, after the wind shifted into a tail wind. They coasted in real causal, obviously not too hurried or tired. The winds were westerly and my loft being 6 miles straight west of the rest meant the scores weren't anything to brag about.

Then came the week of the race. I really poured it on! I just loft flew them Sunday through Tuesday but Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they went for 42 mile flight before breakfast and were then liberated most of the rest of the day. The always did this in about 50-55 minutes (usually against a slight head wind) but on Friday - they took 1 hour 45 minutes. My guess is, the hawk was back bothering them. I noticed it likes to perch on the loft about that time of day waiting on them. Oh well, they got an extra hour of training and were then locked in until basketing for the race. I can honestly say I don't see what else I could've done for them. They were in great condition.

[Race Day: About 1:20pm] I was goofing off after feeding, watering and even bathing all the critters. Eating lunch while watching TV. I wasn't even thinking of looking at the loft clock until 2pm. The phone rang. It was Larry asking how many I got back. "What? You've got a bird already?!" "Got a bunch of them and they've been here a while. You'd better go check your loft!" So I ran out to the loft and I had 7 birds in! The first came in at 12:26:18! They had flown 308 miles in 5 hours and 11 minutes! I was amazed. What's more, I was 15 minutes ahead of a loft 6 miles shorter than me. "That's a pretty good indicator!", I thought. I didn't get too excited as this never seems to turn out.

RACE RESULTS: I got the first bird in! However, 12 seconds later 2 more birds came in together at Marks loft 6 miles east and almost 1 mile north (overflight) of me. They took 1st and 2nd place. I got 3rd place with a blue bar #3331. "42 seconds to win" the computer said. It was pretty cool and a little annoying at the same time. I've never scored higher than 3rd. 2nd would've, of course, been better. But 42 seconds from 1st place after 300+ miles was pretty cool! I'll take it.

National Database-1        EVANSVILLE RACING PIGEON CLUB         11/05/10-12:59
                                   Evansville IN
                                 Weekly Race Report                      Page 1
                            Open and Sportsman Category
Name: BIRMINGHAM 13               Young Bird Race             Flown: 10/23/2010

Release(A): 07:15  Birds: 134  Lofts: 9            Station: BIRMINGHAAL (0207)
Weather (Rel) Clear, SE-5, 57 deg  (Arr) PC, SE-15, 80 deg

POS NAME          BAND NUMBER        CLR  X ARRIVAL   MILES   TOWIN      YPM  WS Cus Pts  NDB Std Pts
  1 HELFRICH S/30 10145  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:26:28  309.191 00.00 1747.107    532         96  
  2 HELFRICH STEV 10172  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:26:30   2/30   00.02 1746.920    528         93  
  3 THREET ROB/15 3331   AU 10 EVV   BB   H 12:26:16  308.276 00.42 1743.103    524         89  
  4 HELFRICH M/30 2509   AU 10 EVV   BC   H 12:27:38  309.389 00.57 1741.737    520         85  
  5 HELFRICH MARK 2590   AU 10 EVV   BC   H 12:27:42   2/30   01.01 1741.365    516         81  
  6 HELFRICH MARK 2580   AU 10 EVV   BC   H 12:27:46   3/30   01.05 1740.994    512         78  
  7 HELFRICH STEV 10121  AU 10 HELF  BC   H 12:27:35   3/30   01.07 1740.866    508         74  
  8 HELFRICH STEV 10141  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:36   4/30   01.08 1740.773    504         70  
  9 HELFRICH STEV 10161  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:37   5/30   01.09 1740.681    500         66  
 10 HELFRICH STEV 10114  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:38   6/30   01.10 1740.588    496         63  
 11 HELFRICH STEV 10106  AU 10 HELF  BC   H 12:27:39   7/30   01.11 1740.495    492         59  
 12 HELFRICH STEV 10130  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:39   8/30   01.11 1740.495    488         55  
 13 HELFRICH STEV 10235  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:40   9/30   01.12 1740.402    484         51  
 14 HELFRICH STEV 10139  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:41  10/30   01.13 1740.309    480         48  
--------------------------------- Above are 10 percent -------------------------
 15 HELFRICH STEV 10191  AU 10 HELF  BC   H 12:27:42  11/30   01.14 1740.217    476         44  
 16 HELFRICH STEV 10147  AU 10 HELF  BCWF H 12:27:43  12/30   01.15 1740.124    472         40  
 17 HELFRICH STEV 10174  AU 10 HELF  BCSP H 12:27:44  13/30   01.16 1740.031    468         37  
 18 HELFRICH STEV 10154  AU 10 HELF  BB   H 12:27:45  14/30   01.17 1739.938    464         33  
 19 THREET ROBERT 3305   AU 10 EVV   BC   C 12:27:30   2/15   01.57 1736.159    460         29  
 20 HELFRICH MARK 2522   AU 10 EVV   BC   H 12:31:03   4/30   04.22 1722.908    456         25  
 21 HELFRICH MARK 2550   AU 10 EVV   BC   H 12:31:05   5/30   04.24 1722.726    452         22  
 22 BUTCH GARRI/9 2217   AU 10 EVV   BB   H 12:30:55  307.548 06.05 1713.386    448         18  
 23 BUTCH GARRISO 2214   AU 10 EVV   BCWF H 12:30:58   2/9    06.08 1713.142    444         14  
 24 GOODWIN DO/19 2664   AU 10 EVV   BLK  H 12:35:34  311.262 07.01 1708.866    440         10  
 25 GOODWIN DON   2699   AU 10 EVV   BB   H 12:36:32   2/19   07.58 1703.755    436          7  
 26 GOODWIN DON   2760   AU 10 EVV   BB   H 12:36:34   3/19   08.01 1703.552    432          3  
 27 HELFRICH MARK 2521   AU 10 EVV   BB   H 12:34:43   6/30   08.02 1703.148    428          0  
--------------------------------- Above are 20 percent -------------------------
----------------------- Below are the first birds from each loft ---------------
 45 GARRISON B/14 2767   AU 10 EVV   BC   H 12:35:04  305.564 12.14 1680.250    356          0  
 48 LARSON LAR/13 3036   AU 10 EVV   BB   H 12:35:37  304.857 13.30 1673.534    344          0  
 70 SIMPSON DEB/2 0449   AU 10 HKY   GRIZ H 13:15:03  321.742 35.56 1572.705    256          0  
 87 SIMPSON DON/2 2739   AU 10 EVV   BC   C 13:32:25  321.742 53.18 1500.319    188          0  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hanging onto "McCloud"

I thought I had lost 3323 yesterday.  Been having a lot of hawk trouble.  He has been consistently among the first bird in from races and training.  In fact, he earned me a 3rd place AU diploma in the race before last.  The highest I have ever placed in our super competitive club of old veterans and their old bloodlines.  He must've been first one in from another 42 mile training drop and gotten chased off.  The hawk later fed on one of my rollers and 3323 came in late in the afternoon.  When I thought I had lost him, it made me sick.  "I haven't even gotten a picture of the bird that earned me my first 3rd place diploma." So, I took this:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Good Birds! (Well Behaved Anyway)

I held back 4 late arrivals from this weekend's race.  Did very nicely!  My best score sheet EVER!  With a 3rd place diploma winner (my highest ever!), I was very happy.  This weekends race is a bit further so I am taking the remaining 22 young birds out today and Friday for a 42 mile conditioning drop.  The sun sure comes up late now.

The drop is exactly an hours drive for me.  I stopped about 30 minutes before the drop at the last (good) gas station and filled up and went inside to get coffee.  I came back and drove the remaining 30 minutes then opened the back hatch of the van to find that one of my baskets was not latched on one side and two birds were out!  I stared at them and they stared at me.  They seemed to be thinking, as I was, "This isn't right!"  Thank goodness they stayed on the blanket I put down!  I decided to just do what i always do - set the baskets down and let them settle a bit before the release while I eat my breakfast.  So I did.  The two loose birds just ambled back toward the opening and stayed there (still on the blanket) while I ate.  I decided it might be funny to film the release with my cell phone.  So I did (sorry it came out sideways).

They must've gotten out at the gas station - I would've heard them otherwise.  I know they rode the last 30 minutes just standing next to the other baskets.  I was thinking this morning how calm and gentle they've become.  Heck!  Maybe I don't need baskets!!  :-)  I really love working with these animals.  They're pretty amazing creatures!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Bad One - for me

Well, most of the others did well.  For some reason, only 9 of 29 came in on time.  I got 12 more - but they were really late.  That's really all I have to say on it.  There was a hawk and it got one of my rollers.  Not sure of what happened as I was out of town.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poor Returns for 115 mile race

These same 38 birds have been 40-90 miles a dozen times but today only 19 came in before noon and only 3 came in the late afternoon.  Very strange.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sat Out The First Race

Call it superstition, but I don't like to race on the opening day of dove hunting season.  There's too many sunflower fields (dove bait) between me and the  breakpoint.  In addition, the Nat'l Youth Turkey Shoot always has an event on that same day between my house and the breakpoint!  If the dove hunters of Tennessee and Kentucky don't get them, the 2 dozen 14 year olds with pump shot guns 5 miles south of my house should finish them off!  That's my opinion.  This is a very controversial opinion according to the PML.

I've sat out the last two years.  This was my 4th Young Bird Race season.  The first two years, we all lost about half of what we sent.  Last year, for whatever reason, the others had a pretty good day on Dove Season Opening.  Almost tempted me to try it but I decided against it.  So, since they weren't going out to a 115 miles - I took them a bit earlier in the week to 92 miles (a big jump up from 64).  They did great.  I feel like they're ready and not behind (much).

This Saturday I spent a lot of time in the yard working on things.  I could hear shot guns in every direction at varying distances all day long until twilight.  I saw one guy only a mile up the road in camo, painted face hiding behind a telephone pole.  That startled me!  I was glad I didn't let them out all weekend.  Instead, I flew my rollers - hey, they never leave my 2 acres back yard!  I've got another 6 acres in the front yard and they seldom use more than just the back yard.  Funny birds!  They were safe and really enjoyed the liberation (I haven't flown them since YB season started because they tend to trap into my YB loft if they can).

I am hoping the weather is better than they predicted for this weekends race.  I'm really looking forward to it.  We moved the date forward one week and I sat out so I am two weeks later starting racing that usual.  Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Young Bird Team 2010 Graduates - 100k+ drop

After 5 drops from 42 miles and another 3-4 drops from the breakpoint, they were more than ready to jump up another 22 miles.  I had been waiting for a nice, clear Saturday morning to take them out this far.  Too much for a before work drop - I would have to release at the moment of sunrise to make it to work on time.  Anyway, they beat me home from one hundred kilometers!  (Sounds better than 64 miles, eh?)  I accidentally woke up before 5am and thought "What the heck! Let's go!" (Later I took a 1 hour nap)  I stopped and ate breakfast - dined in (I wanted to wash my hands after boxing 38 birds) - and still had them down there a bit after 7am.  I let them settle a bit and then released them.  They had a slight head wind and made a huge circle, then went east-west twice before heading for the treeline off towards the north.  That treeline in the picture is up on a hill.  It has quite a bit more elevation to it than this picture portrays.  When they hit this treeline, they tracked east to a clearing instead of climbing in elevation to top the trees.  I guess they pretty much headed straight home after that because I did (except for getting gas & donuts) and they beat me home buy quite a bit from what I could tell (no, still haven't hooked up my clock - but I did finally get their electronic bands on them yesterday).  I often beat the flock home from this drop - even with a stop or two.  It was good to see this site upon my arrival.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Watch Out For Those Light Posts!

I've been alternating between the breakpoint and my main conditioning drop of 42 miles.  This is their 3rd drop from 42 miles.  This one and the first one went well.  I'm not sure what happened on the 2nd one although I'm beginning to suspect hawk interference.  I dropped 7 and then got back 4 the next day (3 in the early morning).  So, the team is down to 38 now.  As soon as I get a good Saturday or Sunday, I'm going to take them out 64 miles.  That won't be this weekend.  Looks like another stretch of bad weather.  I hope I can get them out to the breakpoint again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Come back - that's southwest!

Perhaps the training was too rushed.  2.5, 2.5, 6, 6, 12, 12, 14, 14, 23, 23, 42 then rest two days!  Wow!  It was the fastest I had ever gotten them out to this point - by far.  But they were doing so well!  Maybe it was because they were on such a fast track everything was fresh in their minds.  Not today.  With a chance of thunderstorms in 7-8 hours, I released them from 42 miles a 2nd time after a two day rest.  In stead of NNW, they headed SW.  "They'll change course..." I thought as I drove off.  At 8:50am, they were already nearly an hour later than their first drop from this point.  That's not good!  I was getting worried!  A bit later, the loft manager called and said one blue check splash came in alone.  Yikes!  Incidentally, that bird was off of my first bird to come in from 500 miles, a small red splashed hen.  About 5-10 minutes later - they all came in.  Whew!  

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Good Enough!

I took them out 42 miles (by air).  Again, they did great, barely completing a full circle before heading off straight home.  This is my favorite drop - quick and easy - right off the Interstate and a nice large empty mall parking lot!  This group did better than my old birds, who did a lot of zig-zagging before heading home.  Wow!  I'm pretty excited to see how this bunch of mostly hens does.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Big Jump Up

I am so amazed at this group! They are different each year.  This year, I must have 2/3rds hens.  The complete opposite of my previous 3 years.  I guess nature is trying to make up the difference.  These guys (and gals) never circle more than once!  Today, after jumping up 14 to 23.5 miles, they did a half circle and headed straight off on the exact bearing for home!  The only reason I knew it was an exact bearing was because I had studied satellite maps from Google.  How do they do it?!  The best part is the loft manager called me before I crossed the Ohio to tell me the birds were already home!  I wish I could've see it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Finally Remembered the Camera

I finally remembered the camera but still missed the shot.  Juggling 4 boxes is tough!  I unlocked the first 3 baskets and then basket #1 figured out it was unlocked (or maybe they just bumped it open, either way) they bolted so I quickly released the others but by the time I got the camera they were up pretty high and moving pretty quick.

This completes the short tosses.  Jumping up from 14 miles to 23 miles tomorrow.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Late start, missed shot

It looked pretty iffy at 7:30am and then it started to rain.  The radar showed a green blob heading toward us.  I was pretty tired and moving pretty slow.  By the time I had tea, then coffee, breakfast, showered, etc.  It was 10:30am and clear!  Plus, I still had the birds trapped up in the loft (not allowing them into the aviary) so they would be easy to box.  So I did.  Still on schedule after all!  I'll have them across the river Monday! 

As I headed down the driveway, a Cooper's Hawk left the tree just in time to fly over us slowly, as if to say "I'll be here when you get back!"  Just before I got to the drop point - another Cooper.  Ewww. 

Anyway, they seemed to handle today's 12 miles pretty easily - taking off in the correct direction with little circling.  They were lounging around in the grass when I got back.  I shoo'd them up into the air.  I'm still free-lofting them and haven't started trapping them in yet.  I'll start that next week sometime.  I still have to get electronic bands on them and get them entered into the computer. 

So 2x2.5 miles, 2x6 miles and tomorrow 2x12 miles will be down!  Then 2x14, 3x23 and 3x42 and 1x64 and I will be done with the road training.  After that, I'll alternate 42 & 12 for conditioning and break point training until race night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010 Young Bird Training Begins Today at 2.5 miles

They boxed up pretty easy.  I think all of the handling Saturday helped calm them down and let them know what to expect.  I like to box them in the morning - strike that - I like to box them in the dark when they are still.  However, I think it's good to let them sleep in their perch each night instead of boxing them all night.  Who knows.

They were pretty funny.  When I opened the baskets, they just walked out and turned around and looked at me.  I wish I would've had my camera for that!  I thought I was going to have to shoo them, but then they suddenly bolted.  They meandered back and forth generally in the correct direction until they were out of sight.  I was a teeny bit worried since the weather started turning (it 30-40% chance of thunderstorms for the next 10 days) but the loft manager reported it looked like they all came in.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ready To Start Training YB Team 2010

Ug! Done with my least favorite part of this - yes, even counting cleaning the loft: vaccinating.  I boxed up the wild young birds and then discovered I had syringes, but not needles.  I had to run into CVS and buy needles.  They only had a 25 gauge needle - not the 20 gauge needle I needed so it was quite a chore getting the syringes filled - it took forever!
I had to stop and stitch up two birds that had what looked like hawk injuries.  I hope they heal okay.  The wounds were open but didn't seem to bother them.  I started at 11am and didn't finish until 5pm.  Of course, there was the trip into town and lunch in there, but otherwise - pretty busy.  I lost one bird, presumably to a hawk, while we were out of town (I had the loft manager free-lofting them to get them settled for training - got a late start this year due to flying out of two loft in OB season - never again!).  Vaccinated 42 on the YB team, plus 5 others.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Old Bird Season over - Looking forward to Young Bird Season

Well, old bird season is over.  I lost my fastest bird on the final 400 mile race.  I got a day bird, which was pretty good since it was a hard race.  The 2009's continued to do lousy.  My "experiment with color" would require too much patience.  So, this year, I kept all the blue checks and blue bars and I have some new blood.  I also have 50% more bird than usual.  I had to add perches for 10 more birds.  They have settled nicely, despite a bit of crowding.  I'm really looking forward to working with them at the end of the month.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Worst Training Drop Weather EVER!

The weather forecasts have been wildly off lately.  I can't rely on the nightly forecast for an early morning drop.  I had forgotten that.  I was 25 miles south when I noticed a dark patch of clouds to my right (which would be between the drop and my house) that looked like it had rain coming down.  I noticed a strange easterly wind when I left.  Not good.  As I approached the 42 mile training drop (a common twice weekly drop during racing season for them) I noticed the strangest cloud formations I have ever seen in my life!  It looked like silk sheets or frozen water waves.  The definition was so sharp - not cloud-like at all.  As I left the drop, I saw a guy pulled over, out of his car, staring at the clouds (see - it wasn't just me!)
Anyway, to make things worse, just as I opened the baskets, it started sprinkling.  Then I heard thunder.  As I drove off, it was raining.  Then clear, then rain again.  After 20 minutes, it was fine.  Honestly, they are 2 years olds (mostly) and I'm not worried.  Still, I have never trained in weather any where near as bad as that.  I wish I had set up my clock to see when they get in.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Good 225 mile Race - time for meds

This was the build up to the 500 mile race from the Gulf.  19 of 21 came in the first day (2 fast ones, 11 on time and 6 stragglers).  The other two were waiting on me when I came out this morning.  I'm racing the old birds out of the breeding loft so I gave the breeders baths yesterday morning and gave the racers baths today.  Then fed them extra raw Spanish peanuts and gave them the VitaiKing 5-1 treatment mixed with 1/2 strength Lime Gatorade.  As far as I know, they only make the powdered Gatorade in two flavors: orange and lime.  Using just meds - they barely touch the water.  By mixing it with orange - they seem to drink more.  After trying lime, I was shocked at how much they drank.  In fact, the 3 week old squabs looked like water balloons.  I wondered if they were pestering their parents for more Gatorade? 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Old bird race from Athens Alabama tomorrow

I hope the weather is better than they say.  My '08's have been to Athens so many times, it ought to be like a (225 mile) training drop for them.  I have 13 (of 21) that come in pretty much right-on-time (although usually 8-20 minutes behind the winners).  Since it is my only my 3rd season racing and only my 2nd old bird season, I am used to the unpredictability of young birds.  The consistency of the old birds is nice - less worrisome (except when they're late and you know something must be wrong).  Next week is a 500 mile race.  It will be my first past 300 miles - or should I say THEIR first past 300 miles.  Who to send? 

Well, cross your fingers and wish us luck!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Late Hatch Strays 100 miles off course

I got a call from a lady in Carbondale, IL who found my '09 late hatch #376.  She said the bird was pretty tired and very tame.  She flew up on the kitchen window to get their attention and then when her husband came outside, she landed on his shoulder.  They reported a lot of hawk activity.  That sounds pretty similar to the way they behave when they are stressed by a hawk and trying to get MY attention (except they have never landed on my shoulder). 

I guess I'll pick her up Saturday although it sounds like she's really become a pet to them.  They are hand feeding her and keeping her inside in a cockatiel cage (and covered her at night).  Wow!  She definitely won't want to leave.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today, training stops here

I was hoping to get them out 12 miles to the river bottoms this morning (where I believe the break point is) but had to stop 5 miles short due to high water.  This is my tiny old bird team.  Down from 28 to 23 after dropping some late hatches and a couple others on a tough 225 mile race this weekend.  They are going to a combine with another club this weekend.  300 miles.  Looks like a tough race too.