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The Selkirk Haggis Hunt

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, great chieftain o the puddin'-race!

Hundreds of intrepid hunters took to the hills of Selkirk on Sunday to bag a bumper haul of haggis on the opening day of the 2020 season.

Mild winter weather meant many of the elusive creatures had ventured out of their burrows on Selkirk Hill and were easy prey for the skilled hunters of the Scottish Borders town.

Tradition dictates that young hunters are given their chance to bag their first haggis on the opening day of the season and they responded to the challenge by flushing out dozens of the beasts.

The hunters set out from Selkirk Market Square at the traditional time of 11.02am, led by the massed bands of the Selkirk Toon Erms.

Amid fears of falling haggis numbers due to it being a wee bit warmer recently, organisers urged this year's hunters to use nets and to operate a catch and release policy.

The Selkirk Haggis, with its distinctive tartan pelt, is regarded as one of the most prized specimens of the legendary creature, most often spotted on a moonlit night after closing time.

Spirits were high among the highly trained professional hunters leading this year's hunt.

Fine weather on Sunday morning ensured that hundreds of townspeople made their way onto the hill.

Despite protests from animal rights campaigners, organisers insisted that the traditional tactic of scaring the beasts from their burrows with bagpipes should continue.

The crowds joining this year's hunt are believed to have been swelled by many families desperate to get away from radios and television sets reporting the latest updates on the royal family and Brexit.

As always, the hunt was led by the Selkirk Haggis Hunt Pipe Band, whose members remain on bail pending investigation of charges of crimes against music.

Organisers of this year's event insisted on a strict dress code to maintain standards.

The successful hunt has ensured that Selkirk will once again have enough haggis to make it through Burns Night, though enthusiastic post-hunt celebrations mean that concerns remain over the town's whisky stock.

All pictures © The Five Turrets / Gethin Chamberlain.

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