Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Pigeon Racing: A unique and fulfilling sport

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The first annual “Pigeons in therPark” event was held at Memorial Park in Payson on Saturday, June 29.

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The event was hosted by Hal andrRebecca Peery of Payson and was used to promote the sport, to commemorate therend of a racing season, and to allow friends to gather.

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“It’s a great, low cost familyrhobby,” Hal Peery says. “Pigeons are interesting. They get in your blood.”

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Two national dignitaries from therpigeon racing world attended in support of the Peerys and the rest of the club:r Tom Coletti of Afton, Wyoming, formerrAmerican Racing Pigeon Union (AU) president and one of the judges of therPigeons in the Park event, as well as Jeff Life of Wentatchee, Washington, whoris the Northwest Zone Director of the AU.

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The twenty or so pigeons beingrjudged on Saturday—all young birds who have not yet raced—were categorized byrcolor. There were five classes. The judges looked at the eyes, feathers, howrthey stand, and other criteria. Competitors from Idaho, Wyoming, Washington,rand all over Utah brought their birds to compete.

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Jeff Harmon’s pigeon received Bestrin Show, and Jeff Sherwood’s received Second Best in Show. Both Harmon andrSherwood are in the Utah County Pigeon Racing Association (UCA).

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The most recent pigeon season endedrlast week, but will start again with this new group of young pigeons in August.r

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Each season, the pigeons participaterin 12 or 13 races. Racers from UCA compete with other clubs in Orem, Lehi, andrSalt Lake City.

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Hal Peery, a construction projectrmanager, has lived in Payson all of his life. When he was growing up, it seemedreveryone in town had pigeons as pets. “They make great pets,” Peery says. “Theyrdon’t bark.”

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It wasn’t until he was an adult thatrhe became involved in the sport of pigeon racing. Hal currently has forty orrfifty pigeons in his loft—the building where the pigeons are kept.

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A pidgeon checks out the trophy at the first annual “Pigeons in the Park” event in Payson.
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Each club has a race secretary. Clubrmembers take the birds to the secretary the night before for basketing. Cratesrare then locked. The next morning, they are driven in a specialized vehicle torone of several specific locations and are released by 7 a.m. The pigeons thenrfly home.

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The young pigeons start racing aboutr130 miles from the sending off point to home. Week by week, each race isrprogressively longer. About 1,000 pigeons race at one time.

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They are timed for speed (yards perrminute), not distance, using a computerized band that was placed on the bird’srleg when it’s around five days old. This ID band allows the birds to bercompared to others from around the nation.

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The weather and winds play a bigrpart in the speed of the racer. The biggest problem the pigeons face is therpredatory hawks and falcons in the area.

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The club here in south Utah Countyrwas started in the 1970s. “We’re looking for people to come fly with us,” Peeryrsays. “If they’re interested, we’ll help them get set up. I’d hate to see kidsrmiss out on this.”

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The UCA is a small club, and theyrare looking to gain exposure so they can grow. Any interested parties canrcontact Hal Peery through email: Hpeery54@hotmail.com

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The pigeons have enriched Peery’srlife and he’d like to share this with others. “They make me feel peaceful.”

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Chris Baird
Chris Bairdhttp://www.servedaily.com
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.
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