Back when I started flying pigeons some 35+ years ago, I was new to the sport. The big names back than were “Big Z” (Jim Zoellern), Lou Jansen, Don Whittle, Joe Johnson, Richie Lewis and Elwin Anderson who have all passed on and are now in pigeon heaven. I apologize if I missed a name or two. My memory is not what it once was. And of course the kid in this group of stars was Bruce Gordon. These were the names everyone was talking about on race day. Wouldn’t you know it, 35+ years later, the name you hear more than anyone else on race day is Bruce Gordon and the question asked is “When did Bruce clock“?
In the 35+ years that I have been in this sport, I can’t ever remember Bruce having a bad season. Maybe a bad week or two, but never a bad year. Think of that, how many flyers do you know that have been flying that long that have not had a bad year? My guess would be very, very few. I believe Bruce has won more Concourse races and Championships than anyone I know in this area. I don’t know if his flying and breeding accomplishments will ever be matched. If you are familiar with the old saying “King of the Hill” that would be Bruce Gordon. You might knock him off the hill one week, but you better get ready for a good old fashioned butt kicking the next weekend or the weekend after.
Bruce is very frank and to the point. If asked a question or his opinion, you may get an answer you aren’t ready for. But it’s Bruce’s view and an honest answer. Bruce is the type of person if he doesn’t agree on something and it’s voted on and passes, he will be behind the decision 100% and do everything he can to make it a success. He has helped many flyers in the area with loft designs, next boxes, traps, birds, and will share his flying methods with anyone that asks. He has helped several fanciers remodel or build new lofts, me included, than most people realize.
Bruce has been married to his wife Sandy for 46 years. They have one son and two daughters and three grandchildren. Bruce retired about two year ago from Manson Construction, a Marine Contractor where he was the Superintendent & Project Manager.
The birds he is flying today are from Serge Van Elsacker, Rick Mardis at CBS, Rik Cools (Vandenabeele), and birds from Kenny Rhodes. Bruce’s first trip to Belgium was in 1998 and that is when he met Serge and I believe he has been back to Belgium nearly every year since and sometimes twice a year. When he visits Belgium, he always goes back with Rick Mardis of Continental Breeding Station. 2003 was when he brought in some of the Simon Janssen’s and in 2010 he brought in the Rik Cools birds that made an immediate impact. More recently he has brought in the “Kannibaal” and “Kleine Dirk” bloodlines from Rick Mardis and Kenny Rhodes that have been grate crossed with the Van Elsacker/ Rik Cools pigeons. I asked Bruce what he thought were the biggest impact pigeons he brought in and he said they were 4 hens that he brought in in 2011. They are Van Elsacker/Vandenabeele crosses from Serge Van Elsacker and Rick Mardis. For more in depth information on Bruce, please see the article that Gene Yoes wrote back in 2003. I believe it’s in the November issue.
Let me give you a brief history on the 2012 Old Bird Season. I talked to Bruce before the season and he was pretty excited. He had 24 Widow Cocks to compete with and two were 1st & 2nd High Point birds in the concourse in 2011. After letting the cocks out this past spring to get them ready for the April races, he lost 16 to the hawks and falcons, including the 1st and 2nd Champion Bird. That left Bruce 8 pigeons to compete with. We have double releases each week, so that gave Bruce 4 birds in each race to compete with at the club and concourse level. When the season was over and the smoke cleared, Bruce was 1st Master Loft and had the Champion Bird in the Evergreen Concourse.
OB race results:
118M 116th 39L 327B
118M 17th 37L 300B
118M 7th,10th&11th 38L 336B
118M 27th 31L 273B
160M 27th 40L 333B
160M 2nd 37L 276B
195M 2nd,3rd&4th 35L 232B
195M 4th 28L 176B
245M 1st,2nd&3rd 29L 213B
245M 22nd 27L 182B
275M 1st,4th&5th 23L 212B
160M 77th 29L 164B
160M 13th,17th,18th&19th 26L 146B
360M 4th 22L 158B
160M 4th,5th&8th 21L 90B
Quite a season with only 4 birds competing in each race. Bruce’s OB flying system is really pretty simple. He puts the flyers together in late December or early January and separates the sexes after 19 days. He tries to time the separation of the sexes just before he leaves for Belgium. He starts training the cocks about a month before the season starts. After the 1st race, he stops training and now lets the cocks out twice a day. This year, unlike the past, he showed the hens for a few seconds before putting the cocks in the basket. On arrival home the hens are waiting for their mates. The first release cocks are with their hens for about two hours and the 2nd release cocks are with their hens for about an hour when arriving home. The tougher the race, the less time the cocks are with their hens when they arrive home. Bruce said this is the opposite of what you usually read. The cocks have a full trough of feed in front of them 24 hours per day, every day. Bruce feeds a commercial 14% protein feed early in the week, than changes to his own special mix with 21 grains that is 14.5% protein and 10.6% fat. Seems pretty simple, but the results were grate.
As good a season that Bruce had in Old Birds, believe it or not, his YB season was FANTASTIC!!!
YB race results
105M 29th & 31st 38L 667B
118M 16th 38L 596B
160M 3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th &17th 29L 268B 28 seconds out of 1st
160M 2nd,3rd,4th,9th,11th,12th,13th,19th, 20th&21st 27L 222B 21 seconds out of 1st
195M 8th,9th,10th&16th 29L 260B
195M 7th,8th,9th,10th,11th,12th&13th 26L 206B
160M 1st&4th 34L 342B
160M 1st,2nd,3rd,4th,10th&12th thru 19th 31L 284B ***13 of 14 shipped in the top 20***
245M 1st,3rd,4th&17th 32L 247B
245M 1st,2nd,3rd,12th,13th,14th&18th 29L 225B
160M 1st,2nd,4th,5th&6th 30L 250B
160M 7th,8th,9th,11th,12th,13th,18th,19th&20th 28L 208B
305M 2nd,3rd,4th,8th&9th ***PSF Futurity*** 30L 226B 13 seconds out of 1st
305M 1st,2nd,3rd&7th ***PSF Bonus Race*** 21L 83B
Bruce also had the 1st two Champion YB’s and 1st Master Loft.
Bruce puts the breeders together around the first week of December. He flies the YB’S on the Light System, but unlike many others, does not train them early. He pulls the 9th & 10th flight on the first round only. This is done in early April and then he locks them up for about a month. Bruce bites off the ends of the 3rd,4th, 5th 6th & 7th primary flights (about 3/16 of an inch) on the second round of babies after they have dropped their first flight. He bites the 8th later. He said that he has never sent better flighted birds to the futurity races than this year. He starts his training about a month before the races start. Just before the races start, he separates the sexes. When he trains, he uses the crates the birds will be shipped to the races in. He said by doing this, the birds learn to drink early from the crates. The birds were never trained in a hand basket. This year the birds did not like to fly very long when exercised around the loft because of the hawks and falcons in the area, so Bruce unlike the pass, trained the yb’s during the flying season. He trained once a week on Thursdays (middle of the day 29 miles) and exercised the birds twice a day. When the birds are trained, the cocks and hens are let up at the same time and remain together until they are shipped Friday evening.
The young birds are fed similar to the old bird team. But he does add approximately 20% Paddy Rice to his yb feed. The birds have feed in front of them starting Thursday afternoon until about 1:00 or 2:00 Friday afternoon. This feed consists of about 30% Safflower. He gives the birds Jovati three times a week and mixes his own grit. He doesn’t believe Jovati replaces the grit .He said he found this out by watching his breeders. He medicates for canker (Belga Magix Tablets) 1 pill per bird per month. He likes using the De Weed products. When the birds flights are pulled and their locked up, they are vaccinated for PMV and Pox.
I was at Bruce’s a few weeks ago and he showed me his 2013 old bird race team. Twenty eight cocks (oh boy). They were with the hens and I could not believe how calm all the birds were. As he was picking them up, none were flighty. In fact, they looked at Bruce like they were saying hey, how about me, aren’t you going to show me off? In all the years that I have had birds, I have only met one or two people that have a special connection with the birds. It’s hard to explain, but it’s as if the handler and the birds know what each is thinking and what is expected of them. Bruce has that connection. Bruce is an asset to the sport and brings out the best in everyone, because he is the picture on the dart board that everyone is trying to beat. Without a doubt, Bruce would be a top competitor in any area he flew in.
If you have any question for Bruce he can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org