Haggis hunters descending upon Selkirk later this month will be hoping to bag themselves a rare catch after a new strain of the creature was spotted ahead of this year’s great hunt.
The first woolly haggis was spotted this week, and it could prove tempting quarry for the seasoned hunters intending to support the annual Selkirk Haggis Hunt when it returns on Sunday, January 20.
Organisers believe the woolly wildling may have come about as a result of climate change or Brexit, but until one is bagged, they cannot be sure.
Davey Scott, co-organiser of the annual event, said: “The change in world climate appears to have resulted in modifications to the hill breed in that a number of woolly-clad haggis have been seen.
“Is this similar to the elephant or hairy mammoth evolution?”
Mr Scott will help lead hordes of hunters later this month, and he says conditions are looking good.
“I have done a preliminary survey of the hill, and things are looking good for the hunt,” he added. “There appears to be a plentiful supply of haggis, with a fair number of young birds, so things are looking good for the future.
“A warm welcome is issued to everyone, young and old, to hunt enough haggis for the many Burns suppers throughout the area.”
The hunt’s objective is to catch and provide as many Haggis as possible, not an easy task for the shy beasts are well camouflaged, to ensure a plentiful supply for Burns Night suppers taking place all across the region.
The hunt takes place just five days before Burns Night, to ensure the beasts remain fresh for accompanying the neeps, tatties and whisky at the traditional suppers.
It begins at 11.02am sharp, and hunters should meet, armed with their hunting gear and suitable attire, in the town’s Market Place.
There will be a welcome stirrup cup before instructions for the day are delivered by hunt addresser Matthew Burgess.
Piper Alan Lindsey will lead the Toon Airms Band on the march to the Argus Centre, where they will be met by a band of fiddlers from Riddell Fiddles to perform for the dancing of the Haggis Polka.
The march will proceed towards the rugged peaks of Selkirk and to the Chinese Hut, where Kenny Robertson and the hill team will officially start the hunt.
After the hunt, Matthew Burgess will address the haggis on the hill and hunters will be invited to toast the bird.
On their return to town, hunters should reassemble at the Fletcher statue at the Victoria Halls for a commemorative photo, as a fairly new ancient tradition now dictates.
Before hunters disperse, certificates will be issued upstairs in the Town Arms pub in Market Place.
Hunters wishing to take part should add their name to the muster roll held in the Town Arms.
Any person wishing to take part in the humane hunt must respect strict haggis-hunting rules as follows:
No guns or crossbows will be allowed.
Hunters may arm themselves with any or all of the following – home-made bow and arrow, cricket bat (not home-made), stick (big) or net (small mesh).
Appropriate clothing must be worn, such as wet or dry suit, plus fours, nappie, tartan(but not tartan nappie), sou’wester (yellow only, for easy rescue from the hill), long coat (but not too long) and wellies/ flippers etc.