HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: Gary Woolcott has 70 pigeons in his flock but he has a special spot for Oakhampton Boy, after the now retired bird finished third in a 200km test of endurance and homing skills.A chance meeting with an old friend in Sydney three years ago reignited Gary Woolcott’s passion for pigeon racing.
Nanjing Night Net

It had been more than 30 years since he was last involved in the sport but Woolcott jumped at the opportunity and turned a planned mower shed at his Oakhampton home into a pigeon loft.

Starting with two silver shadow pigeons, Woolcott was on the flight back to the racing circuit.

He now has 70 pigeons but last month one rose above the rest finishing third after making the 200 kilometre journey home from Breezor in a Newcastle and Coalfields Racing Pigeon Federation race.

This result gave the podium placing pigeon a privileged spot in Woolcott’s collection.

“Whenever I have a bird that finishes one, two or three I name them,” he said.

“I named him Oakhampton Boy.”

Woolcott was first introduced to the sport as a child through his East Maitland next door neighbour Billy Morris in the 1950s.

Eventually Woolcott stepped up from first hand assistant to operator and for 20 years raced his own pigeons.

The simple pleasures of the pursuit have not been lost on Woolcott despite his 36-year absence from the sport.

“The greatest joy is seeing a bird come down, from as high in the sky as you can possibly see, and drop down into the cage,” he said.

The Newcastle and Coalfields Racing Pigeon Federation have races scheduled for the rest of the year but Woolcott’s flock will have to wait.

Not only has Oakhampton Boy been retired from racing but a virus has been detected in pigeons on the east coast of Australia forcing the federation to suspend racing.

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