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 2016


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 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.

Each hunter must send in an individual application.
2017 North Manitou Island Deer Hunt Application

A NON-REFUNDABLE $25.00 application fee is required for each hunt period before a permit will be processed. Make checks payable to: National Park Service. Groups may send one check for all the hunt applications in their party. Fees may also be paid by charge card or submitted through at


  • All hunters are required to check in with the rangers upon arrival on the island, attend the ranger orientation, and obtain a backcountry permit (no charge for permit).
  • 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.
  • Small wood burning stoves will be allowed only inside tents. Ashes must be cold when disposed of by burying.
  • Carts and other wheeled devices are allowed for the North Manitou Island deer hunt but are restricted to one or two wheeled buck totes only.
Examples of North Manitou Island Deer Totes.

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 will not count against the hunter's regular deer season bag limit on the mainland. Park rangers will affix a special North Manitou Island deer tag to each legally taken deer before the hunter leaves the island.

Hunt Dates

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

Bow: October 1 through October 27, 2017
Firearm (Muzzleloader and Rifle): October 28 through November 4, 2017
(Firearm and muzzle loader seasons have been combined for North Manitou Island only.)


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 is expected to transport hunters from Leland to North Manitou Island on Saturday, October 28 and return hunters to Leland on Saturday, November 4.

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. 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.
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.

Private Boat
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 231-326-4741.

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 originally planned.

Food and supplies are not available on the island.

Last updated: February 9, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630


(231) 326-4700

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