Catch and release plan works well for bairns

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The annual cull of the great Chieftain of the Pudding Race took place on Sunday as the Great Selkirk Haggis Hunt hiked up Selkirk Hill.

Given the dreich weather, it’s not surprising that numbers were slightly down on last year, but there were still slightly shy of 400 hunters armed with baggie nets and homemade bows and arrows.

Clad in their traditional tartan gear, they were, indeed, a fearsome sight.

Deputy Chief Haggis Hunter Davie Scott was delighted with how it went.

He said: “This has become a great example of how a community event should work, with countless kids all returning with full baggie nets and beaming smiles.

“Our catch and return policy for adults helped in this and I’m sure this will continue.

“We have to thank our contributors without whom this would not happen.

“We had donations from Waters and Halliwells butchers, the town’s Co-op and Sainsbury’s, Ettrickside Garage and Lindsay Grieve.

“And this year, for the first time, we had a donation of sweets from Bookers Cash and Carry – it’s amazing how the age range of ‘kids’ goes up when there’s lollipops and Haribo on the go.

“There are those who make it happen on the day, such as the Town Arms, the clear-up team at the Chinese Hut headed by Evelyn Ballantyne, the chief of security Beachy Grieve and his team, Alan Lindsay and his band of pipers and drummers, and of course Riddell Fiddles for playing the Haggis Polka before we headed up the hill.

Hunters mingled in the Market Place with a dram or a juice, before marching up to the hill, via the Argos Centre, where the Haggis Polka was performed.

Up on The Hill, following a quick safety brief, the hunt was on.

The constant cries of “Haggis!” betrayed the fact that the beasts were out and about in great numbers.

There were no less than 60 pure breed haggis caught, as well as up to 40 other ingredients, such as tatties, neeps and packaged ready meals.

The chosen haggis was marched around the Chinese Hut three times to the sound of the pipes, before Bob Burgess gave a spirited Address to the Haggis and hunters were given a taste of their catch, with another dram of course.

Then it was back to the Town Arms for a warm-up, a plate of stovies and a sing-along to end another successful hunt.

Mr Scott added: “I also have to thank the many members of the public who turned up on not such a nice day with one thing on their minds – to enjoy themselves. It’s what it’s all about.”