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The Badger Head Sporran of The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

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From the Autumn 2003 edition of "The Thin Red Line", the regimental magazine of The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders:

BADGERHEAD SPORRANS

By Major C F R Buchanan

The Badgerhead Sporran, so long a traditional item of dress of

The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, is still very much in

demand by the Officers and Sergeants of both regular and TA

units. The obtaining and processing of the skins and the making of

the sporrans are a lengthy process. The successful completion of

the latter, is inevitably dependent upon the supply and processing

of the former. In this matter customers can be of help and indeed

frequently are ? first, by finding a dead badger, then getting it to the

tanner, in good condition.

Snowdonia Taxidermy Studios of Llanrwst, North Wales, who

have been involved in the preparation of such skins for many

years, offer the following guidelines, which will answer many of

the queries they often receive from clients, and will hopefully

avoid the disappointment of a ?failed mission?.

The most common occurrence of a ?dead badger? is a road casualty,

often during the night or early morning. Frequently the animal

is just ?clipped? by a passing vehicle and will suffer a head injury,

which will kill it cleanly and instantaneously. Further damage may

be caused if the animal is left on the road and is mangled by subsequent

traffic. On remote roads in the countryside the animal

may lie dead for hours, sometimes days, before it is destroyed

beyond being of use. We always regret that these animals are killed

on our roads, but if we can make use of them for Taxidermy or

Sporrans, the badger can still be admired.

What should you do following your first impulse to pick the badger

up? Assuming you have a bin liner or other receptacle to put

it in ? you have pacified your wife and child in the car with you

that the badger is dead and safe to pick up and that it will not

smell! ? none of which you can actually be sure of whilst you are

in the car, SO....

Put your ?flasher warning lights? on, examine the dead animal,

firstly by moving it with your foot (just in case). The temperature

of the carcass from cold to warm, felt with the back of the

hand, may give some indication as to how long the animal has

been dead.

Absence of one or both eyes will indicate the crows have already

done the previous tests for you. During winter months in very cold

conditions a dead animal may be suitable for recovery for 3-4 days.

During the summer months, longer than 24 hours will be risky.

Putrefaction will usually commence around the stomach and anal

regions following expansion of the gut with gas. Purple coloured

skin in the stomach area between the hind legs, indicates some

putrefaction has commenced. Pull at some of the hair in these areas

? if it comes off with surface skin, and has an accompanying rotting

smell, then abandon the project. Likewise, maggots (as distinct from

fly eggs in and around the mouth, nose and eyes), one sign that the

objectives are in jeopardy. (Previous assurances to the family re

objectionable smells will not stand up to credibility on a 15 mile

homeward journey on a hot day!).

Having recovered the animal you should immediately report

your find to the local Police, giving time and place of find, road

number, etc. You should diary the officer to whom you reported

the find, with the same details. This will cover you, so that if you

should have any enquiries in the future, relating to the dead animal,

you can verify that you obtained it legitimately. (We would

also require this information too, for our records). The casualty

may have already been reported to the local Badger Watch group

or other conservation organisation.

When you arrive at your destination, it is advisable to lay the

animal on the ground and wash off any blood or insect infestation

with a garden hose, using COLD water. Put the entire carcass in a

strong polythene bag, seal it and Deep Freeze it. Telephone

Snowdonia Taxidermy Studios, who will advise you how and when

to despatch it, or will arrange collection. Either way you will need

to pack securely.

PACKING THE ANIMAL

You should acquire a strong cardboard container of adequate

size to hold the badger and not less than 2? of insulation material

all around. This may comprise of polystyrene granules, crumpled

newspaper, etc. Pack tightly. Pack immediately before sending or

collection. You must mark the package PERISHABLE ? URGENT

in several places and send by 24 hour or overnight delivery service.

Remember it is an offence to despatch ?NOXIOUS? material by

post. Not all carriers will collect either.

If you have a friend or colleague who has some experience of

skinning animals, it may be skinned by incising the body on the

stomach side, from throat to anus. The head should be left

unskinned and the feet left on the skin, if you should require

them incorporated in the Sporran. After skinning, the skin

should be washed in COLD water, drained and frozen, as for the

whole animal.

FINALLY, do not forget to enclose your own details and the name

and address of your preferred Sporran Maker. You will receive an

invoice from Snowdonia Taxidermy Studios for the preparing and

tanning of the skin. Upon payment of the invoice, the skin will be

despatched to the Sporran maker, who will render their own

account for the work done. We will look forward to being of future

service in upholding the traditions of the Regimental Dress. All

enquiries to Dorothy Reid, Snowdonia Taxidermy Studios.

Telephone: 01492 640664. Fax: 01492 641643.

And here's a photo of the completed article, from this web site:

http://www.theargylls.co.uk/dress.php

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That was waaaaay more information than I ever wanted to know! :speechless1::cheeky:

I never realized that there were badger heads on there-- is that general for ALL Highland regiments, or a unit peculiarity?

Good thing they don't use cows. Gosh. :catjava:

:cheers:

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Interesting note for the future historians - however, I have to say I bet the Badgers' don't think it's a 'sad' day !

The problem today is that there are 'little' people trying to tell everyone what they should say - do - and think. And, in my view the UK has become one of the worst for doing this.

Apart from that - Welcome to GMIC. With friends doing interesting things like that you should have a lot to show and chat about. Mervyn

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I actually have a sporran made of badger from the aforementioned taxidermist. It can get a bit tedious if you end up at a table with an opinionated vegetarian, who is quick to voice his/her (usually her) opinion on what you have round your waist. It's for that reason that it's always nice to keep a copy of the taxidermist's documentation in the sporran as a little 'f*** you' in the case where particularly judgemental remarks are made.

I'm told it's the original gold cord that is about to run out. The last of it is being used to make three sporrans for the Argylls.

http://www.scottish-sporrans.co.uk/

I think there's one pictured on his site.

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