• Looking out at the lake

    Sleeping Bear Dunes

    National Lakeshore Michigan

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  • No water at Weather Station Campground until further notice.

    The well at the Weather Station Campground is down for repair. Water is not available at the campground at this time.

  • Changes in compendium

    The Superintendent's Compendium for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was updated on August 19, 2014. Changes were related to designated wilderness, mushroom collecting, and the use of unmanned aircraft. More »

North Manitou Island Hunting

Deer Hunting on North Manitou Island
In 1926 four male and five female deer were introduced to the island with the hope that they would multiply to a number large enough for hunting. Since then the deer population has grown significantly due to lack of predation and artificial winter feeding supported for many years by the previous island owners. By 1981 there were an estimated 2,000 deer on the island. The island vegetation could not sustain such a large herd, so many deer starved. The surviving deer over browsed the island, eating all of the Yew and young Maple trees. Through reduction of the deer herd by hunting, the vegetation has recovered to some extent. Hunts (by permit only) have occurred annually since 1985.

Hunt Statistics from 1986 through 2011 (pdf file, 14 kb)

A special deer hunt is conducted on North Manitou Island to control the deer herd and preserve the natural vegetation. A park hunting permit, along with a current 2014 Michigan deer hunting license, is required to participate in this hunt. In issuing these permits, the Park Superintendent serves as the agent of the Department of Natural Resources to implement the deer hunt on North Manitou Island. Permits are not transferable.

View a copy of the 2014 North Manitou Island Deer Hunt Application (pdf file, 149 kb).


Bag Limit
There is no bag limit on the number or sex of the deer that can be taken. Deer taken legally on North Manitou Island shall not count against the hunter's regular deer season bag limit on the mainland. Park rangers shall affix a special North Manitou Island deer seal to each legally taken deer by the time the hunter leaves the island with the deer.

2014 Hunt Dates
Permits to hunt deer on North Manitou Island shall be issued in the following numbers for the following dates:

October 1 through October 26, 2014

October 27 through November 13, 2014
Firearm (Muzzleloader and Rifle)


  • All hunters are required to attend the ranger orientation, obtain a backcountry permit and check in with the rangers upon arrival on the island.

  • The baiting of deer on North Manitou Island is prohibited.

  • All firearm hunters are required to wear hunter orange at all times in accordance with Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulations.

  • Wilderness management restrictions apply to camping on the Island. Camping fees on North Manitou Island will not be charged during the hunt.

  • Small wood burning stoves will be allowed only inside tents. Ashes must be cold when disposed of by burying.

Use of Wheeled Buck Totes
Carts and other wheeled devices are allowed for the North Manitou Island deer hunt and are restricted to one or two wheeled buck totes only.

Examples of North Manitou Island Deer Totes.

Ferry Service
Information on transportation to and from the Island may be obtained from Manitou Island Transit, P. O. Box 1157, Leland, Michigan 49654, telephone 231-256-9061. Reservations are required for ferry service during the hunts. Manitou Island Transit ferry is expected to transport hunters from Leland to North Manitou Island on November 1 and return hunters to Leland on November 8 .

Since dock facilities are very limited on North Manitou Island, access is heavily dependent on weather conditions. It is very important that all equipment be well packed and labeled with the owner's name and address and all firearms must be unloaded and cased. Neither the National Park Service nor the Department of Natural Resources guarantee that transportation to or from the island will coincide with the desired transport time. Weather may prevent the ferry from making a scheduled pick up, so hunters should be prepared to spend additional days on the island until the ferry can run.

Area Information
No services will be provided and all hunters will need to arrange their own transportation and bring all supplies INCLUDING DRINKING WATER, or bring a water purification device.

National Park Service island facilities and operations will be shut down by Columbus Day or sooner, weather depending. Hunters need to be self-sufficient to survive for a period of time that may be longer than is originally planned.

Food and supplies are not available on the island.

Access by private boats is not recommended due to inadequate safe docking and lack of a protected harbor. Each year some hunters ignore this recommendation and end up being rescued because of damaged watercraft. We strongly recommend that you utilize the Manitou Island Ferry Service or have a friend drop you off. DO NOT BRING YOUR BOAT AND EXPECT A SAFE ANCHORAGE OR DOCK FACILITY!

If you have any other questions regarding the hunt, please call Park Headquarters at 231-326-4700.

Did You Know?

Field Trips

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a popular field trip destination for school groups. Students can learn about geologic formation of the sand dunes, the fauna and flora that make this area home, and the logging and farming history as the area developed. More...