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Florida Haggis Lore
by Mick “Croc’o’Haggi” Dunlop Dunedin, Florida


Mike Dunlap
Florida Haggis Lore…. Mick “Crock’o’Haggis” Dunlop

During the First Ice Age, Haggis evolved alongside their cousins, the Platypus. They migrated across the joined continents until reaching their home, The Scottish Highlands.

The Male Haggi are herbivores only, not eating meat of any kind, but munching on grass constantly, and always searching for their favorite food, Oats. As a matter of Fact, the main reason they settled in Scotland was because of the many wild oats sown there by the Highlanders.

The Female Haggi are omnivores, eating both grass and Oats, but occasionally, and during Mating Season only, eat whatever local fauna are available, especially small birds and young mammals.

In the Scottish highlands, Haggi flourished for thousands of years, becoming prolific and populating the hillsides with their offspring, called Haggles. They lived in harmony with the other denizens of the hills, the Brownies. Brownies and Fairies would use the Haggis as Beasts of Burden. As a matter of fact, The Brownies and fairies would trade in Haggis offspring with their cousins to the South, the leprechauns. Arguments over the pricing of this transaction actually began to be called by the names of the beasts, and “to haggle” became a part of the language of the region.

But then the dreaded Sheep arrived, the Haggi’s mortal enemies. When the Sheep realized that Haggi ate grass, they started to eat the Haggis!  One Full-sized sheep could eat ten to twelve Haggisses a day. The Sheep would gorge themselves until bursting. This gave rise to the misconception that Haggis are sheep stomachs stuffed with their organs and Oats. This obviously is not the case; the stomachs were stuffed all right, but with Haggis!!

The local people lived off Haggis. Haggis Hunting affected many areas of Scottish culture greatly…For instance, when the first Men in the area tried to hunt Haggi wearing improper clothing, they were mauled…. an agitated (hyper) Haggis, trying desperately to find the safety of its burrow, would mistakenly run up a pant leg, and while doing so did savagely claw and scratch its way to the top, where it caused considerable damage to future generations of Scots! Wily Highlanders then devised a garment, worn from then on throughout the highlands that had no pant legs…. Today this is known as a kilt.

 To further ward off the Haggi, highlanders started to make their kilts out of sheep’s wool. It was later discovered that due to an evolutionary quirk in its visual receptors, Haggi couldn’t see plaid. Highlanders had discovered this on their own, and devised many patterns that hid them from the Haggissi, enabling them to get very close while hunting. (Today we still see many examples of Clan tartan, all devised to hunt haggis in their area.)

So to survive, some of the more aggressive species of Haggi learned to attack the kilted hunters by leaping directly at the future generations area, with Claws extended. The Highlanders responded by wearing a small wooden shield, covered by leather, directly over the targeted regions. Some men would wear known Haggis enemies, like badger, beaver and fox heads and even horsehair. All of these were very effective in warding off Haggis… These devices were called in the Gaelic: “Sporan Tearmunn  (pouch protection)”.  Today that has been shortened to merely “sporrans” or in the English, “pouches”.

Male and Female Haggis live apart, with the Males roaming in ones and twos throughout the area, but females hunting in packs, until mating season. They will then pair off, but invariably they are more females than males, since more males are lost to the sheep. Remember the males are usually found alone, and eating grass. The Haggis will pair off, males usually choosing the younger good-looking females first (sound familiar?) and then the older, till finally the oldest, ugliest females are left. The unpaired female will then give off a keening sound through three holes in her bill that is akin to three bagpipe drones, out of tune. It is a lonely melancholy sound, coming through the highland mist, in the Gloaming, which will break one’s heart. Many a song was written about the Lonely Hag, mostly in the Gaelic (which is probably why you haven’t heard it…you don’t speak Gaelic) and even today, all pipers, when they first fire up the pipes, in honor of the heartbroken haggis, will play their drones out of tune, some much longer than others.

Haggis live in small burrows, almost like rabbits, and usually near the coast or near water, since they are wonderful swimmers. A female Haggis and her huddle of haggles make a great silhouette swimming across a loch; with the mothers neck stretched out and back to watch over her babies. Aye, some say it looks like Nessie, but I think that’s stretching it a little too far.  There is a local legend near Loch Ness that strapping haggis onto one’s feet will repel Nessie, or throwing live tied Haggi into the Loch itself. This has been taken way too seriously, and being thrown into the Loch whenever Nessie has been sighted has killed many Haggi. The RSPCH has been on top of this, but there are just not enough officers.  On the other hand, we haven’t seen Nessie in quite a while, so the effort might just be working!

Sheep eating the haggis would change the world, as we knew it in the mid 17th and 18th centuries.  The Haggis population was starting to drop fast, starting a famine that would change the course of world history. There were just too many highlanders to last on crops alone and without the haggis to feed them they started to leave. Unsuspecting Landowners would bring in more sheep to make up for the lost rent, and the sheep would eat more haggis, repeating the cycle. The people left in droves, going to Ireland, the young USA, but mostly Canada. This was, of course, the underlying root cause of the “Highland Clearances”. 

The Haggi, seeing more sheep coming in all the time, were forced to make a choice, and in the early eighteenth century started to also leave, mostly riding with the Highlanders in the ships to Canada. Once they got near to land, the Haggi would slip overboard and swim to the coast. Today Haggis are found all over Canada, wherever people of Scottish descent are living.

Canadians are famous for their Haggi, the North American spotted Haggis. They are tenderer, but harder to catch, due to the larger size. Once Haggis were established in Canada, they interbred with the American Snipe, making them larger but less visible than their Scottish counterparts. When Canadians started to vacation here in West Florida from the 1950’s on, they would drive down in their motorcars, unsuspectingly causing a second migration of the Haggis. Haggles would crawl into the trunks (for you Brits, that’s boots) of their cars and when unloading their luggage would free the little haggles. The area is perfect for Haggis; especially near the coast…For the Males there are well-manicured lawns and golf courses everywhere! There are stands of Sea Oats on every causeway, and not a sheep to be seen!!!!  The females here feed on what is considered a delicacy for a haggis, the Canadian snowbird. A true Haggis paradise.

So a third incarnation of the Haggis is born: the West Florida Striped Haggis!

Haggis Hunting

There are too many Haggi here in Florida now…Lore Signs are:

-1- Small “gopher holes” are being found in local Florida golf courses, and gopher bait is not working. Sea Oats are disappearing, and in January 2003, two imported Scottish Haggi, brought in for Burns Supper, were inadvertently set free from Cricketers Pub, and escaped onto the Dunedin Causeway! They communicated with the local Haggi here, and reminded the Florida Haggis of the ancient defenses against Haggis Hunters. A pox on Cricketers staff!!! (Probably was British Bob!)

-2- Small cats are missing…. people are actually blaming coyotes…what rubbish, who ever heard of coyotes in Florida!!! It’s Haggis, you dolts!!!

-3- Many more “out-of-tune drone sounds” are being heard, especially in the area around Dunedin High and Middle schools, Sarasota High, Lake Wales and wherever lads and lasses of Scot descent are frequenting… we suspect that the female-to-male Haggis ratio is too high.

-4- We are not seeing as many Canadian Snowbirds as we used to….the area around Dunedin Blue Jay Stadium used to be filled with Snowbird, along with the Bingo Parlors near the Causeway….and from Naples to Jacksonville, Miami to Tallahassee, the sightings of Snowbird are substantially down. The Florida Department of Tourism is trying to pass this decrease on the recent hurricane activity….but we all know the real reason, don’t we?

Therefore we need to have a Haggis Hunt…here in Florida, now.

Contact the New World Celts for Professional Advice.

Newworldcelts@gmail.com

Haggis Hunting Methods

-1- Use a Haggis Loremaster and a Ghillie Hunter…This is a preferred method and one highly advised. Insert Single Malt scotch into same, let them ramble on for about an hour, then release haggles into the wild to lure Haggi to the field.  Just before the Hunt starts, Hold a moment of silence (the Hush) to relax the Haggis. If they get agitated, they may escalate to hyper status, and there is a grave danger of being mauled…. Then release the hunters. They should make for the Haggles, and capture them. Bring all Haggles back to the Home base.  The Hubbub caused by the Hunters will allow the Ghillie to capture the Alpha Haggis, which he will then parade to the crowd. Haggis will then be butchered, and forever inserted into the stomachs and Lore of Dunedin, or Jacksonville, or Ft Lauderdale, or Sarasota or Orlando…wait, not Orlando…too much fantasy there already…

Write us at newworldcelts@aol.com and we will provide method #1 for you.

-2- Use a Haggis Hook, stand near the water, awaiting what looks like Nessie’s silhouette, then cast hook into water.  Two very important rules to follow: Always bring something to drink, preferably of the alcoholic nature, and for god’s sake, man, tie a line to the hook. This is always done in the company of scantily clad good looking young women, to of course, lure the Haggis…(actually used this method only once, just as the wife found me on the causeway, under the influence, and in the company of a scantily clad female…when asked to produce the Haggis Hunting Hook, I explained to her that I had thrown it into the water, but alas, had not tied a line to it!!!)  Moral of the story: never forget to have a good line with you…

(Real men, in the Highlands, at first used sticks and stones to hunt the little, bambi-eyed Haggi, but that was not very sporting, aye? So they challenged each other to use heavier stones and big sticks. (“Walk softly and carry a big stick” is a Haggis hunter’s creed.) As they became more and more proficient in using the larger weapons, they kept escalating the size. It got to the point that the sticks became branches, then logs, and then even poles! As they became even better, the challenge was that one had to, before hitting the targeted haggis, bounce the pole off of one end first!!!   You guessed it, After Hunting Haggis for centuries, the men were so used to tossing cabers and heavy stones at the Haggi, when the Haggis thinned out, and then moved to Canada, the Scotsmen started the Highland Games in their honor.)

-3- Dig a hole (please not in a blacktop parking lot) and place an OPEN bottle of Single Malt Scotch (yes, with the scotch in it!) deep inside the hole. The Haggis will drink the Scotch, but may become agitated. Tis very dangerous at this time, and on the verge of going “hyper”, so we suggest sending a Loremaster or ghillie to bring the Haggis in slowly…. Give the professionals at least a hundred yards clearance between you and the Sco…haggis, and don’t be surprised if the haggis disappears along with the Scotch…. it happens quite frequently, with the ghillie and the Loremaster not remembering a thing later, the poor bastards.

-4- A safer method is to give the Pro Haggis Hunters the Scotch up front, and they will attempt to catch you a Haggis, if they remember why it is you gave them the Scotch in the first place. They will even de-leg, skin it, have it cooked and eat it with you. (It tastes surprisingly like liver meatloaf, if you ever had occasion to eat liver meatloaf!). Of course you will have to pay for the entire meal, and the Scotch. But wasn’t it worth it?

Mick “Croc’o’Haggi” Dunlop Dunedin, Florida Copyright 2005


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