Chef Peter Siagkris is nowhere to be found the last week of October. For the last 5 years he's left his chef coat behind in exchange for hunter orange and boarded the Manitou Island Transit ferry Mishe Mokwa headed to North Manitou Island. He and a large group of hunters from across the state leave the comforts of home to rough it for a week of pre-season deer hunting. The North Manitou Deer Hunt is organized by the Department of Natural Resources in an effort to control the deer population on the island and protect the native vegetation.
This year marks Chef Pete's 5th, and the first that he brought our bartender Libby's son Henry along. "We leave Saturday October 26 and return the following Saturday, weather depending. If the weather is bad we are stuck untill the boat can get us. Upon arrival it’s a mass unloading. Permits are checked by the rangers and we are on our own to find our camping spot. Our spot is 4 miles from the dock and we are responsible for hauling all of our gear. There are zero services out there for us. No running water or anything. Water has to be filtered or carried in and we filter out of a swamp. We take a lot of freeze dried items and always get a deer for camp meat. Our day starts early and cold in tents in the morning. Then we hike, creep, and stalk deer throughout the island or sit on ridge tops in ambush. The buck I got this year I shot at 4:00 pm and by the time we dragged it over fallen tress and the 3 miles to camp it was 10pm. It’s a ton of work. This year there were 110 hunters ( most I’ve ever heard of ) and 82 deer were taken off to manage the population on the island."
When the ferry returns to Fishtown, hunters dressed in bright orange cart deer off the boat to waiting trucks in the marina parking lot. Each taking their meat to be processed or processing themselves. In Pete's case, he processes his deer by hand with the help of buddy Steve Pendergast (source of our apples) who joins him on the trip every year.
Pete looks forward to this trip every year and we're glad to have a strong team to hold down the fort while he's gone. This year our team resembled the resturanteurs version of Deer Window Weekend with an all female team led by Sous Chef Chris Boerma.
If you're interested in learning more about the North Manitou Island Deer Hunt or to plan your trip for 2020 be sure to visit the National Park Service website.