The beginning of a lifetime passion:
Like most kids (8 years old), I first got started when I saw a loft of birds and asked my dad what they were. Racing pigeons he replied. Surprisingly, my father had raced pigeons as a teenager in Eastern Pennsylvania. We built our first small loft in 1975 with homers that we caught off local barns. In the spring of 1976 we bred about 20 young birds and trained them out to about 35 miles which just amazed me. After training the birds and loft flying them all winter I believe we had about 12-14 left.
The summer of 1977 we found the nearest club but were denied membership because we were 5 miles out of bounds. We were however invited to fly in their 300 mile open race at the end of the season. To prepare, I would loft fly the young birds every day at 6:30 am and feed them after that exercise period. Those birds started to fly 3 to 4 hours every day and would be gone for most of it. We would give them one 75 mile training toss a week followed with a day off. At the end of that clubs season we shipped the five bird limit to the open race.
The 335 mi race liberated at 7:30am and was expected to be a 7 hour race. I was so excited to be shipping a RACE! We thought nothing of it when the moment arrived and we had 4 birds in the air at 5:05 pm (9hrs 35min on wing). We clocked them and took the first 4 positions by over 45 minutes. WE NOW WERE OUT OF BOUNDS FOR SURE!!! We later ended up moving about 20 miles to be closer to my dad's work and were now within the boundaries of another club. In 1981 we began racing again. We flew our first race in the old bird series with 5 late hatch birds. We won the first race with a chocolate grizzle cock IF80SVW 515 given to us by David Jones of Danville, PA, a great man and pigeon handler. By the mid 1980's I was flying on my own, thoroughly immersed in racing pigeons and high school. I married in 1986, began a young family and relocated my loft to our new property. We won club, combine and national awards until our move in 1999 to New Jersey. After our move from Pennsylvania to New Jersey I spotted a group of racing pigeons flying over my new home. I jumped in my car followed them to Hank Pratt's and we started talking. Hank and I became partners in 1999 after Hank's brief stint in the hospital. Together in 2000 O.B.'s we won 3rd IF Hall of Fame award and two combines that season. In the Philadelphia area Pratt is truly one of the champion handler and breeders. I took off over decade to watch my boys play high school and college baseball returning in 2011. Keyser Family Loft is now with the addition of son Tristan.
"Always happy never content"
"Leave nothing to chance"