Louisiana is commonly known as the Sportsman’s Paradise because of its wide array of outdoor activities, particularly hunting and fishing. However, many people take for granted just how easy it is to get outside and enjoy the bountiful beauty of nature. David Daniel, founder and CEO of Bar D Outdoors nonprofit in St. Francisville, is working to change that while also helping physically challenged people get back outdoors.
When Daniel woke up in the hospital after a massive stroke in November 2004, he was afflicted with left-side paralysis. Life seemingly returned to normal, despite a few minor inconveniences like losing his ability to play the guitar. Then, in 2014, Daniel suffered another massive stroke leaving him with paralysis on both sides of his body and very little use of his voice.
With the help of his friends and family, he was able to get a terrain wheelchair and continue enjoying one of his favorite pastimes, deer hunting.
“When I killed my first deer after being in a wheelchair, it lit a fire in me,” Daniel says. “I knew I wanted to help others who had similar challenges, and I had the property available to do that.”
Daniel is referring to his personal property, named Bar D Ranch, which is where the nonprofit’s name came from. On Bar D Ranch, the organization now holds hunting trips for local physically challenged men, women and children.
“We’ve had a lot of assistance from the community since our founding in 2014,” Daniel says, “from people coming out to build specially made deer stands that cater to wheelchairs, to others helping purchase equipment and raise money.”
Many of the people Bar D helps never thought they would be able to hunt again due to their conditions, and Daniel says seeing their reactions once they are up in the deer stand or even just out on the property is not only gratifying but motivating.
“It’s a lot of work to get someone in a wheelchair out in a deer stand,” he explains. “People don’t realize all the effort that goes into it. But it’s made a real impact on me to see someone sitting in a wheelchair be able to kill a deer.”
Daniel has his faith, family, friends and community to thank for getting this organization going. Without them, he says this would have been nearly impossible. And it is because of this support, and his deep faith, that his goal moving forward is to continue pouring back into the community and helping those who don’t have the resources to get back outdoors.
“There are several friends and businesses that donate to us every year, and others that give back in any way they can,” Daniel says. “Equipment is a big part of hunting. For example, we just used donation money to purchase a new outdoor trail camera.”
One of Daniel’s friends at Thompson Creek Sporting Goods in Jackson, Louisiana, has contributed in large ways to the Bar D Outdoors mission, including building a personalized gun.
“We had a disabled guy that needed a really short gun, so I called up there to see if they might have something close to that size,” Daniel explains. “He called me back the next day and said to come and get it. He didn’t have one on hand, so he custom built an AR just for him.”
It’s stories like this, along with personally seeing the joy in participants after a great hunt, that push Daniel to keep going and keep getting more people outdoors.
“I have so many amazing memories that involve hunting, and I just knew that this was something I needed to do,” Daniel explains. “Just because you’re down doesn’t mean you’re done. I refuse to let [my condition] define who I am or what I can do.” bardoutdoors.com