American "Gurnay Specialist"

AMERICAN “GURNAY SPECIALIST” (Continued) By Tom Smith, Spring Hill, Florida In 2002 while judging a show in Medford, Oregon with Gary Braden, Alan showed Gary some of his Gurnays. Gary asked him if he knew Dr. John Kazmierczak of Trenton, New Jersey, owner of Copper Beech Loft, who had a wonderful family of racing Gurnays. A few months later, Alan contacted John, and they had an insightful conversation over the phone. John, being the unofficial “patron” of Gurnays in America, offered to send Alan some “real true to type racing Gurnays. A short time later a basket full of John’s “Copper Beech” Gurnays arrived at Alan’s loft; “some wonderful looking and handling Gurnays!” John’s family of Gurnays was created by crossing pure Gurnays from several different sources, both domestic and imports from GB over the past thirty plus years. The biggest influence were the Ted Hart Gurnays (GB) via Dave Seidman of Queens, New York. Your author (Tom Smith) personally knew Dave Seidman for many years and exchanged birds with him. In fact one of his Ted Hart Gurnays bred my first Gurnay race winner, the “Smash Cock.” Most of my Gurnays emanated mainly from Perkins Bros. Mill Hill (GB) ace “TYBALT,” and Tom Watson of Washington (GB) Olympiade Gold Medal winner “White Throat!” Tom’s son Ian still flies today in the Up North Combine. Dave actually visited Renier Gurnay’s loft in Verviers, Belgium during WWII, when he was in the U.S. Army. He also visited the loft of Lucien Bastin in Verviers. He told me several stories of how he looked for pigeon lofts while he was a soldier fighting in Europe! Pigeons were his great love. Dave gave me his treasured photo of the Gurnay loft that he took while stationed in Belgium. Unfortunately, there were no mor Gurnay pigeons in the loft, but after the war Dave imported Gurnays and Lucien Bastins from GB where they had been kept as pure as the day they left Belgium. They were beautiful specimens. The Gurnays had some stunning “Bronzes” among them, while the Bastins had some of the striking “Chocolates.” Dave raced them both in the Bronx, New York area with much success. The “Copper Beech” Gurnays are the flying type Gurnays, not show birds, but the main difference between the two families are that John’s Gurnays have larger feet and legs, thicker bone structure, and their bodies are a little larger, a good medium to big in size. Alan’s Gurnays have been purposely bred with smaller feet, “since birds don’t race with their feet,” and by doing this he doesn’t have to cut bands off birds as they age. He says he has bred his Gurnays to a uniform medium size because he has “small hands” and wants the birds to “fit” in his hands. John is only interested in the racing Gurnays, true to the original type, which he has researched extensively thru articles and old photographs of the original Gurnays. John has imported Gurnays from many sources over the past thirty odd years, and the majority from Great Britain, including the well-known George Snell. Alan began racing the Kasmierczak-Gurnays in 2004 and has done well with them, although his unfavorable loft location makes racing difficult. Alan lives (this is now “lived,” after the devastating fires a few years ago) in Happy Camp, in the lush Klamath National Forest, 45 miles west off the north to south line of flight (Rte 97) to lofts around Yreka, California that belong to the Siskiyou Racing Pigeon Club. The race course itself is a tough one with mountains and valleys all the way. Speeds are typically 1000 ypm – 1400 ypm. Another big problem for Alan is hawks and falcons. They are protected in the National Forest and are prolific. He has to be constantly on guard. Quite often his birds get hit when they are out exercising. Alan has also “crossed” his show Gurnays on John’s racing Gurnays with success, breeding some good racers. Alan has blended together several lines of Gurnays to create his racing family. His highly successful racing reds emanate from the “Coach” Dorer reds down from Basil Beebe (GB), the Dave Seidman “Ted Harts, GB” and the “600 Mile Winner” line. The “600 Mile Winner” was flown by Roy Gray of Florida. It is interesting to note that it is a “pure” Gurnay whose ancestors are from Hal Conn and Dr. K once again! Alan says “I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m so fond of the Gurnays: their long-distance blood is there, even though the parents may not have been flown…” The “600” is mated to a real nice diploma hen called “Boots,” from Dr. K and will be remated later this year to a daughter of the “Scottish National Winner” (a Gurnay) and to his ace Red Hen, winner of 2 x 1st 150 miles. The 600 Mile Winner’s sister looks exactly like Renier Gurnay’s “ANGOULEME,” especially the head. Alan has her mated to a full brother, with great expectations of producing some wonderful original type Gurnays. (See photo of “Angouleme” on page 40 of Fred Shaw’s book RACING TO WIN.) These lines have been bred back and forth to produce pure Gurnay winners. [To Be Continued.