A special hunt is held annually on North Manitou Island (NMI) to control the deer herd and preserve the natural vegetation. A park hunting permit, along with a current Michigan deer hunting license, is required to participate in the one-week hunt. In issuing these permits, the Park Superintendent serves as the agent of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to implement the deer hunt on NMI. Permits are not transferable.
2020 Hunt Dates
October 31 through November 7, 2020
Submitting an Application
Applications for the 2020 hunt must be submitted before September 30, 2020. Applications postmarked after September 30, 2020 will not be processed.
Applications may be mailed, emailed or faxed. Each hunter must complete an individual application. A non-refundable $50.00 application fee is required before a permit will be processed. Pay.gov is the preferred method of payment. Fees may also be paid by charge card or check. Checks should be made payable to National Park Service. Groups may send one check for all the hunt applications in their party.
Call 231-326-4741 for an application
Mail applications to
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
9922 Front St
Empire, Mi 49630
Email applications to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax applications to 231-326-4719 (Attn: Special Use Permits)
Information on transportation to and from the Island may be obtained from Manitou Island Transit (MIT), P.O. Box 1157, Leland, Michigan, 49654, telephone 231-256-9061. The round-trip cost for the ferry is $150. Reservations are required for ferry service during the hunt. Please make your reservations early to assist Manitou Island Transit in trip planning.
Hunters should have a park hunting permit before they book transportation with MIT.
The Manitou Island Transit ferry is expected to transport hunters from Leland to North Manitou Island on Saturday, October 31 and return hunters to Leland on Saturday, November 7.
Dock facilities are very limited on North Manitou Island and access is heavily dependent on weather conditions. 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. Should hazardous weather prevent the ferry from making a scheduled pick up, hunters should be prepared to spend additional days on the island until the ferry can run.
When transporting equipment on the ferry, 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.
Access by private boats is not recommended due to inadequate safe docking and lack of a protected harbor. 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 231-326-4741.
Deer may be taken with handguns, rifles, crossbows, bows and arrows, shotguns and muzzleloading firearms, including black powder handguns.
- All hunters are required to wear hunter orange at all times in accordance with Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulations.
- The baiting of deer on North Manitou Island is prohibited.
- Carts and other wheeled devices are allowed for the NMI deer hunt but are restricted to one or two-wheeled buck totes only. The use of motorized carts are prohibited.
- There is no bag limit on the number or sex of the deer that can be taken during the special hunt.
- Deer taken legally during the NMI managed hunt will not count against the hunter’s regular deer season bag limit on the mainland. Rangers will tag each deer legally taken (during the one-week hunt) with a NMI deer tag.
- Deer may be quartered and boned but head must be kept.
- Camping is prohibited within 300 feet of any water source, building or other campsites.
- There is a limit of four people and two tents per site in the Village Campground. Up to 10 people are allowed in backcountry camping groups.
- No services are provided and hunters should bring all supplies.
- No potable water is available – bring drinking water or a water purification device.
- Properly store food and garbage in a manner that prevents access by animals.
- Open fires are only permitted in National Park Service fire rings in the Village Campground.
- Small wood burning stoves are only allowed inside tents. Ashes must be cold when disposed of by burying.
- Only dead wood found on the ground may be used for wood burning stoves or campfires.
- All trash must be packed off the island.
- Human waste and toilet paper must be buried 6-8 inches deep or packed out.
- Hunters are required to check-in with rangers at the dock in Leland and obtain a backcountry permit (no charge for camping permit) before departing to NMI on the ferry.
- The use of chainsaws or other motorized equipment or tools are prohibited.
For emergencies, dial 911, the call will go to Leelanau County Dispatch – be sure to tell them which island you are on. Keep in mind if you are on the western side of the island, your 9-1-1 call may go to Wisconsin – be sure to tell them your location on North Manitou Island, Michigan.