Daniel started developing his animal husbandry skills very early in life, growing up on a small farm in Springhill, LA., near the Arkansas line. At a very early age he had chores such as taking care of the family’s horses and milking 2 milk cows by hand every morning and every evening. At age 12 the local veterinarian recognized his animal husbandry skills and asked him to come to work for them. Their practice consisted of about 50% small animal and 50% large animals. There were days when they would travel several hundred miles over a large geographical area pulling calves, doctoring cows and horses at numerous beef cattle and dairy operations. Most Saturday’s and Sunday’s were spent at the Homer Livestock auction brucellosis testing 400-600 head of cattle for the Monday auction.
He never lost his love for animals. In the mid 70’s he started breeding quarter horses, owning mares and stallions. In 1984 he changed from quarter horses to thoroughbreds. In the late 80’s he purchased a 100 acre farm that had a training track and starting gates with adequate stalls and pastures to house his 65 broodmares, stallions and racehorses. About this same time he took his trainers test and received his trainers license and began racing at LaDowns, New Orleans, Delta Downs, Oakland and Evangeline. He always said that outside of his family and his faith, when one of his babies that he raised and trained went to the lead at the head of the stretch and was drawing away at the wire was the most fulfilling experiences he had ever had. Most mornings beginning January 15th through May 15th were spent with the Vet ultra-sounding mares seeing if they were ready to be covered by the stallion, or if they were in foal. Of course this goes along with drawing up training charts for the runners and hauling them to the above mentioned tracts for races.
This all is taking place while growing his own construction company. Before taking a position managing a six state area for a large, Birmingham AL based environmental construction company. In the late 90’s Daniel was asked to join Pickett Industries based in Bossier City LA as their Director of Marketing and Vice-President. He still holds that position along with being part owner with two other individuals. Pickett Industries builds Sub title D Industrial and Municipal landfills over a seven state area. They manage some of these landfills. Pickett Industries also has a large presence in the pulp and paper and lignite coal industry.
Daniel made the horse business a family affair. His Dad, Hailey, Reed and Chuck were very involved throughout, whether it was cleaning stalls, feeding or grooming them for a race or loading them up and hauling them themselves to New Orleans and other tracks mentioned above when Daniel couldn’t make the trip. At a very early age the children went to the farm. Early morning rising and hard work molded the children for success as adults. The many win pictures is a family diary watching the kids grow up. The deer farming is much the same. Everyone now, including the grandchildren, get involved every time they come home. Daniel’s Dad, whom they lost in September, would immediately asked, as you walked in his room, “how’s the deer”? That’s all he wanted to talk about and he was upset if you didn’t bring him new pictures of the fawns and the bucks to show off to all his friends. When Papa was asked to chose between the wheelchair van bringing him to the lake cabin to fish, Red Bluff, the cabin on the creek in South Arkansas or if he would rather go and sit on the back patio and let the bottle fed babies come in and wander around him, where he could feed them peanuts and bottles at the right time of year, his quick answer was always “I want to see the deer”! Everyone needs to understand how Daniel and his dad developed their love for the whitetail. In the early 1960’s Daniel and his dad would spend many hours, after a rain, riding in his dad’s old 1951 GMC pickup looking for where the mysterious newcomer to northwest LA had crossed the road in his old hunting woods near Leton, LA. It was a big event when tracks ,were spotted. It would be marked with a pine limb on the edge of the gravel road for everyone to come and have a look before the next rain.
In 2010 Daniel started traveling to whitetail farms in Louisiana and over the the United States trying to figure out how he could convert the 16 acres farm at his home, where he had raised horses for many years, into a whitetail facility. Daniel and his wife, Brenda, visited High Roller Whitetails-TX, Bill and Pam Holdman-LA, Chris and Felicia Patten-LA, Cougar Ridge Dave McQuaid-OK, Kevin Graces-MO, Blosser Whitetails-MO, Xtreme Whitetails of Missouri, Rusty Karr-IL, Kirk Waldvogel-OH, Eddie Ray Borkholder-IN, Levi Weaver-OH and Dream Ranch-PA. After visiting these farms, a few things became very clear….he wanted a very gentle herd, which meant bottle feeding all of his doe fawns. He wanted an enclosed, climate controlled handling facility in order to vaccinate, parasite control and A’I. After all the paperwork involved with the thoroughbred industry, Brenda did not want anything to do with his new passion. Her willpower broke the first time he laid a baby fawn in her lap.
Daniel’s goal is to stock his farm with the best genetics available in the United States, and continue building on these genetics through A’Iing every doe on his farm each year.
Being able to purchase one straw of an extraordinary buck was amazing to him, that he could end up with four fawns from that one straw. In the thoroughbred business, If you wanted to breed to a stallion, other than the one you had on your farm, you had to carry the mare to the stallion in Kentucky or elsewhere, and you only had a 65% chance of her having one foal. The Jockey Club will not allow you to artificial inseminate.
The antlers on the Bucks might show the success of the objective you are trying to achieve, but the girls are the most fun and important. You can purchase semen any day of the week but if you don’t have the right girls on the farm, you are probably not going to achieve the results you had hoped for.
Last fall the farm had several yearling bucks ranging from 185″-215″ with two 2 yr olds measuring 224″ and 252″. DTW has twenty deer being raised on farms in Missouri and Pennsylvania.
Next fall DTW will be A’Iing twenty nine doe. Twenty five of these were born on the farm. Daniel says that if he was going to humbly advise a new deer farmer on how to start a new deer farming business, he would advise them to purchase three to five doe and one buck with the best genetics their budget will allow. Hopefully these doe are bred to the buck of their dreams and the buck they purchased will cross well with these doe and their doe fawns. The chances are 25-35% of the doe that are A’Id will not catch each year, therefore the back up buck is very important. He feels it would be better not to use a back up buck at all rather than to end up with several inferior fawns on the farm. A deer farmer can very easily start off with one to two acres split up into smaller pens and then expand as their herd grows.
With the borders of Louisiana closed, it is very important that the existing deer farmers invite new deer farming prospects to their farms and encourage them to go in the deer business. One thing that Daniel had never thought about before was how many whitetail hunter enthusiast in Louisiana were willing to travel to Texas and the mid and northern parts of the U.S. to hunt in the many preserves in those states. There is no reason for these hunters to pack up and travel to other states with the genetics that are in Louisiana. Louisiana farmers can raise as big and pretty of a deer as any other state. Plus if they are raised here their survival rate in the preserves are much higher. Daniel feels that due to the free ranging Whitetails in Louisiana normally being harvested in the first two and half years of their lives there will be more and more preserves and estate hunting high fences go up. It is almost impossible to purchase or lease enough property where a buck that a hunter let’s walk want be harvested before the season ends. Louisiana hunters are getting very tired of paying high membership hunting fees and only getting a chance to harvest a 110-120″, 2 1/2 year old buck. Most hunters in Louisiana have never seen a 5 1/2 or 6 1/2 yr old mature buck in the wild. And if they had, he probably would not score over 135-140″. If the whitetail industry was a stock on Wall Street, Daniel says he would be very bullish.
Daniel would like to thank Bill Holdman for answering many of his phone calls and text messages seeking advise on sick fawns and deer. To date he has not lost one single bottle raised fawn in their first year of life. This would not have been the case without Bill. Also, it is very important that every deer farmer understand what a great base the founding board members of Whitetails of Louisiana created for us. One of the most important being, putting us under the Department of Agriculture. Through reading all of the national magazines it seems most other deer farming states that are not under Agriculture are in a constant war for their survival if they are under Fish and Game or the Department of Natural Resources. With the base these founding board members built for us, there is no reason Whitetails of Louisiana doesn’t grow to be in the top 3 in the nation.