RATHER aptly, John Gormley looked for a moment like a deer caught in the headlights.
The Environment Minister emerged blinking from Leinster House at lunchtime yesterday, and was immediately set upon by a variety of groups.
The guys complaining about the Shannon stopover had to be calmly negotiated first, before he deftly side-stepped a small group protesting over what's happening up in Tara.
Next the media attempted to show its teeth in relation to his decision earlier yesterday morning to issue a licence to the Ward Union on the proviso that the stag is recaptured before hunting starts.
"There isn't going to be a drop of blood spilt.
"What's happening here I think is progressive, basically there is going to be no pursuit at all by dogs," he said.
Twenty-or-so people present wanted an end to "dig outs" but, for once, Bertie's name wasn't being bandied about. Instead, they wanted to help an animal almost as cunning as the Taoiseach -- the humble fox.
Again Mr Gormley escaped danger. While stags are protected under the Animal Welfare Act, foxes are not so this doesn't come under his jurisdiction. But he gave a sympathetic ear.