Haggis - all you need to know

So what is haggis and where can you find one?

Dotted all over the area you'll see small grass covered hills - this is where you'll find the haggis, sometimes on their own, or in groups referred to in the plural form haggii, and other times in small family groups.

So how will you recognise one?

Found in many parts of Scotland, the North Argyll breed is a particarily ferocious strain and should be handled with care.
haggis-1
Young haggis ready for release into the wild after being hand reared by the goverment funded Scottish Haggis and Feral Terrier (SHAFT!) presevation association.
You will know you're in haggis territory when you hear their call, a loud clicking, chirping noise strangely akin to the call of the triffids from the popular sci-fi film.

To look at, the haggis is slightly comical - a small pointed rat-like face, large round ears, a round fat body with the stubby little wings although it's flightless and a pair of powerful but scrawny, spindly legs.

The important thing to notice here is that one leg is slightly shorter than the other which enables them to sprint round the hills they frequent - THAT is the key to catching them.

In the words of that 60s song ~~ It Takes Two, Baby

Normally two people will be on a haggis hunt. The technique is simple - one person chases them round the hill and the other hunter will run round the opposite direction.

To start with the first hunter will jump up and down making whooping noises to scare the haggis and then chase it round the hill. When the haggis sees the second hunter coming towards it and turns round, because one leg is shorter than the other and it's facing the wrong direction it's now unbalanced, gravity comes into action, the haggis falls over and rolls down the hill. Dazed and confused at the bottom they're relatively easy to catch.

Endangered Species

By the late 1950s haggis had been hunted to the point of extinction and in 1957 were granted "Conservation Royal & Ancient Protected Species" (CRAPS) stautus.

With its dark coloured meat such a delicacy and acquired taste and its smooth silky fur much sought after for making sporrans, poaching is still a major problem despite stiff sentencing by the courts and strict vetting of registered hunters.

Licensed hunters must apply to the local governing body for permits and hold current COI (Certificate of Insanity) and DAFT (Don't Ask For Trouble) certificates.

haggis
There are very few in-focus photos of haggis in the wild due the speed at which they travel. Here's an artist impression by Kate (Who's old enough to know better!)

If you've seen a haggis on your visit here then please sketch it and get in touch using the contact form and I'll post the best ones on this site.

Secret ~~ sssshhhhh!

I don't have a problem keeping secrets, it's the people I tell who can't keep 'em ..

Now here's a secret that all North Argyll haggis hunters know that Mid & South Argyll hunters have been trying to figure out for ages. The Mid & South Argyll hunters have very little success outwith their own area and rarely catch an Oban haggis.

That's because North Argyll haggis have the left leg shorter, which means they go anti clockwise round the hill but as you travel South then it's predominately the right left that's shorter so they go clockwise round the hill which means you must chase the the opposite way.

By chasing them the wrong way round and because the creature is so fast the hunters end up as the hunted. Many a hunter has waved a cheery goodbye in the morning never to return.......

In Mid Argyll where they have both species on the hill sprinting in opposite directions it's only their bat-like sonar that prevents them running into one and other and knocking themselves out.

So after you've caught one what do you do with it ~~

What is haggis - what's in it? Ingredient list and how to cook - click here

You can have a night out and hear the immortal words of Rabbie Burns, Great Chieftam o'the Pudding Race- Address to a Haggis and Selkirk Grace




 

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