Hok Jos Vercammen: A Family of Winners, Part 1

It was on a very hot summer day in July that I went with Ed to visit this top loft. Just an hour before visiting with Jos Vercammen, I surprised Ed with a visit to Karel Schellens (indeed, the world famous Karel Schellens) at a little restaurant in Lier, Belgium, where Mr. Schellens lunches every day. Ed was so surprised by this totally unexpected visit that at first he became very quiet. We had a little chat with Karel and of course we took a few pictures. Ed said it was a moment in life that he will never forget.

But lets go back to Hok Jos Vercammen. This fancier is certainly one of the best racers in Belgium on races between 300 and 700km. This loft is almost unbeatable, not only with widowers but also with hens and youngsters. One thing that I like a lot is that Jos is not afraid to basket in clubs where there's a lot of competition. He likes to race against very good lofts. Why? Two reasons. First, this makes his own strain very competitive and strong. Second, if there are very good lofts in the race then a lot of money is wagered on these races, and Jos likes this a lot.



When you have a lot of top birds and you race them very often, there's always a little chance that you may lose them. Such things happen in life, and then the fancier feels very sad. Well, on the day of our visit, our friend Jos Vercammen was feeling very sad because on Bourges national (liberated the week-end before our visit with very bad weather) he lost one of his top widowers, namely "Hossan" (6249318/00). "Hossan" was a very nice looking blue cock with following top results: 3rd Chateauroux 511b. - 3rd Vierzon 201b. - 6th Orleans 329b. - 7th Bourges 645b. - 45th national Limoges 16,945b. - 4th Limoges 342b. - 7th Chateauroux 446b. - 7th Melun 293b. - 8th Orleans 271b. - 9th Melun 434b. - 10th Limoges 933b. and so on.

Jos is philosophical. He explains, "When such things happen, then I'm very sad but on the other hand this morning I received a fax from a German fancier who succeeded very well with pigeons from my breeders. And when I read those results, then my sad feeling goes away immediately. I can say that I receive on regular basis such 'thank-you' letters. I can say that the following results were realized with my birds: 1st national NPO Argenton against 9591b. by J. Smets."

---1st national NPO Moeskroen against 12,752 b. by R. Jansen
---1st national NPO Orleans against 10,173 b. and 1st national NPO Tours against 6752 b. by comb. Roegiest - Visser
---1st interprovincial La Souterraine (quickest against 19,000b.) by Houben J.L.N.


If we go back to the first year that Jos had racing pigeons, then we need to go back to 1967. The pigeon sport was not a strange pastime for Jos (born in 1950) because his father and brother also had racing pigeons. In the beginning, he raced the sprint, but when he moved to his new house in 1971, he basketted for middle distance races also. The first years Jos didn't race much because as a wholesaler of fruit and vegetables, he didn't have that much time for the pigeons. In the late '70s, Jos concentrated more on the pigeon sport and he invested some of his savings in pigeons. The first loft he visited was Herbots. There he bought pigeons from Stossens. The second loft was William Geerts (Schilde), where he bought from all his top birds. Another good investment were four youngsters from the loft Alois Van De Plas (Rijkevorsel), this from the top breeding couple "Ventje" X "Vlinder" which were pure Van de Hoek pigeons.

Jos had a lot of success with grandsons of the "Panter" and two daughters of the "Rapido" from Theo Gilbert (Zulte), pigeons that also made Raoul Verstraete very famous.

Jos says of his breeding philosophy, "Every year I buy one or two birds and I cross them with my base. After two years, I know the breeding results, and then I can select. I must say that I was also successful with pigeons from Lou Wouters" (which he obtained through a German fancier).


In the breeding loft, we count 21 breeding couples. Jos says, "Those are all couples from which I already got several good birds. I'll explain my system. People give very quickly the name 'breeder' to a bird. I don't do that. Before a bird comes into my breeding loft, he or she has to convince me of their breeding qualities, and this does not happen in the breeding loft. I keep in a separate loft 12 'semi-breeding couples.' The youngsters of those couples are also raced, and when they fly well their parents get a ticket to the breeding loft. Which birds are sitting in that loft? Well, good races, new pigeons or some summer-breds which I think will breed well. Later, when they have convinced me, I'll put them with the breeders. I hope that I have made my system clear," Jos emphasizes. "It is not the breeder who makes good racers. No, it is the racer who makes his parents good breeders."

Another very good breeder is "Gaspar" (6522004/94). He's a son of Vercammen's well-known bird "Etim." "Gaspar" is father of
(1) "Vanessa" (6350130/98) as a yearbird hen won 11/11 with 2nd Limoges 406b. (139th national against 24,084b.) - 2nd Chateauroux 176b. (29th against 4743b) She is mother of "Ballack" (6 times 1/10 and father of "Stoica" (1st Marne 809b. - 2nd Dourdan 378b. - 3rd Marne 1646b. - 10th Dourdan 854b.) and mother of "Melissa" (6387199/01) who won 1st Chateauroux 2745b. - 2nd Chateauroux 8360b. - 5th Melun 492b. - 5th Melun 144b. - 7th Melun 426b.

(2) "Ilke" (6058233/02) won 1st Dourdan 275b. - 2nd Dourdan 610b. - 9th Marne 869b.

(3) "Andrea" (6387259/01) won 1st Dourdan 238b. - 2nd Dourdan 855b.

(4) "Jennifer" (6387025/01) won 1st Dourdan 663b. - 3rd Noyon 713b. - 10th Dourdan 1603b.

You see that Jos has breeders that already produced more than one good bird.

A name that you see a lot in his pedigrees is "Yasmine." Her grandchildren are:

(1) "De Kleine Bugno" (6448217/99) 2nd Melun 276b. - 5th La Souterraine 441b. - 6th Chateauroux 388b. - 8th Noyon 254b. - 10th Chateauroux 445b. - 11th Bourges 287b. - 38th La Souterraine 2121b. - 41st La Souterraine 5551b.

(2) "Justine" (6249039/00) 1st Chateauroux 251b - 1st Melun 256b. - 1st Melun 218b. - 4th Melun1030b. - 6th Argenton 379b. - 7th Chateauroux 247b. - 7th Dourdan 228b.

(3) "Serena"(6249010/00) won 13 times 1/10 with 4th Bourges 645b. - 8th Melun 434b. - 8th Argenton 260b. - 9th Argenton 379b. - 45th Bourges 4674b.


Actions speak louder than words; therefore, I'll give you a list of very good results from 2003. As I write this report, the various 2003 championships are not known, but I'm convinced that Jos will win a lot of those championships.

Bourges (479km) 567 old birds: 1-5-10-13-19-23-27-28-30-31 (24/30)
Argenton (556km) 440 old birds: 1-2-11-13-19-20-26-28-31-32-35-36-43 (20/25)
Dourdan (357 km) 904 yearbirds: 1-11-21-26-38-39-44
Dourdan 823 youngsters: 1-3-6-7-8-14-15-28-33-36-52-58
Dourdan 2488 youngsters: 6-10-15-16-18-29-32
Dourdan 1138 youngsters: 4-5-6-9-10-11-12-14-15-17-20-21-22 (28/55)
Dourdan 674 youngsters: 1-2-4-5-8-12-16-17-22-28-30-31-32-33-36-37-41-42-43 (50/59)
Dourdan 1152 youngsters: 1-2-5-7-11-16-24-25-34-58-61-62-63-64-69-70 (50/59)
Melun (310 km) 1761 youngsters: 1-2-4-9-15-22-29-31-38-42-44-48 (33/58)
Orleans (410 km) 476 old birds: 2-3-15-20-23-28-29-31-32 (16/24)
Orleans 747 yearbirds: 1-8-13-14-17-26 (17/23)
Orleans 1289 youngsters: 5-6-11-16-20-21-25 (39/58)