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Opening Day to Remember: Snake River Mule Deer Hunt

Bob Swannack

Opening day of mule deer season proves to be a success on the Snake River in Washington state.

Opening day of deer season is always something that I look forward to more so than most other things in my life. It’s a weekend to celebrate the successes from the previous year as well as scout and learn the habits of the deer. There’s something to be said about a bunch of men setting out to conquer their quest, camper attached, coolers filled, and stories to tell.venison-mrec

When deer season opened for modern firearms in Washington State, the hunt was officially on.

With the generosity of a friend, I was able to take my hunting to a new territory this season, the Snake River. Until this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to hunt the family wheat farm for my entire life. Now, I was bound and determined to take my hunting skills deep into the canyons of the Snake River.

Upon arrival to my friend’s Snake River ranch, my first thought was, “Oh my god, this is rugged country.” Looking down the steep and deep canyons at all the crannies and nooks running off each canyon’s exit, it was not long before I realized the intensity that opening morning would bring. Hunting this country would be a memory of a lifetime, regardless of whether I was fortunate enough to take a deer.

As always, I arrived to my hunting destination a day in advance, allowing me the opportunity to scout the deer and see their travel patterns. I was thankful that I had that extra day to see their patterns; without it, I wouldn’t have had much of a chance in such a large area.

Walking the rugged deep terrain gave me an idea of where the deer were bedded down and which direction they would travel for their water source. With the river being right there, I also noticed numerous other water sources, which meant that the deer didn’t have to travel all the way down the canyons to the Snake River. This provided me with more confidence.

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Opening day began with an early alarm clock. Upon leaving camp, my heart began to beat out of my chest. This is something that happens year after year regardless of my age. It’s a feeling of testosterone running through my veins. It mimics my days running track, playing football, or running on the basketball floor. It’s competition and I have always thrived on competing.

After a few hours of glassing the deep canyons, I spotted a mule deer from far away. The stalk was on!

After many hours of crawling on my belly, glassing the terrain, and staying downwind, I was able to make my shot at 417 yards, a shot that I wouldn’t normally take; however, with so many nooks and crannies abroad, I had to make the most of my opportunity.

I had to take a shot that was outside of my normal comfort zone. The 4 x 4 mule deer dropped. My veins almost burst with blood running so fast through them. It was a gift from God.

4 x 4 Mule Deer
Bob Swannack’s 4 x 4 Mule Deer

With a little time and preparation, the Snake River will provide me with another year of venison for my family and friends.

If you’re interested in hunting the rugged terrain of the Snake River, I highly suggest checking it out. Just remember to ask permission before hunting on private land. If you’re willing to do some research, you’ll find property to hunt.

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Opening Day to Remember: Snake River Mule Deer Hunt