AROUND 170 hungry hunters braved the elements and the slippery underfoot conditions on Selkirk Hill on Sunday, much to the horror of the local haggi population.
It was the annual Great Selkirk Haggis Hunt – and stalkers young and old, equipped with baggie nets, dogs and homemade weaponry, prepared to cull the unsuspecting creatures ready for the upcoming Burns Night celebrations.
The tartan-clad foragers warmed up with a tot of whisky in the town’s Market Place, before trudging through the snow, bolstered by the sound of the pipes and a makeshift bin drum.
When the crowd came in sight of the hill at the Argus Centre, the obligatory Haggis Polka was danced to the delightful tune from Riddell Fiddles. As tradition states, the rather awkward, haphazard moves in the dance are carefully choreographed to lull the haggi into a false sense of security.
It appears Souters are now all in favour of the hunt as it has now been a few years since there has been any attempt to sabotage it.
Stewards were on hand to aid those with less than the required amount of grip in their boots gain some traction as the steeper parts of the hill made climbing tough. But haggis hunters are a sturdy bunch, and before too long, they were in position to begin the hunt. By now, their numbers had been bolstered to more than 240.
As the hill was enveloped in snow, tracking the beasts proved fairly easy, with paw-prints showing the way to where they were cowering in trees and bushes.
More than 20 were bagged, as well as a few ready meals and a couple of vegetarian options. Some eagle-eyed foragers even managed to unearth some potatoes and neeps.
Then it was back to the hut, as the cermonial haggis was piped round three times, borne by chief haggis hunter Jimmy Linton, before it was addressed superbly by TheSouthern’s deputy editor Bob Burgess.
The hard-working hunters then got a taste of the catch, along with another tot of the golden stuff, compliments of the Town Arms pub, where the party continued into the afternoon.
Due to hefty environmentally friendly capping legislation, there were a good few relieved haggi left on the hill, but as the popularity of the hunt increases, it may only be a temporary reprieve.
A delighted Mr Linton told us: “I was thrilled at the turnout, given the weather. It just keeps getting better and better.
“I’d like to thank Lindsay Grieve the butcher and the Town Arms for all their help, and everyone who came along to make it such a special day.”