Born in Beaumont to Wayne L. and Julia Brown Lay in 1914, Daniel Wayne Lay graduated from Beaumont High School in 1932. He went to Texas A & M College and graduated with the class of '36 with a BS in agriculture.
The modern era of wildlife management in Texas began in December, 1935, and he was at the right place at the right time to participate. He met Dr. Walter P. Taylor when Dr. Taylor arrived to teach wildlife and head the new Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit. He accepted Taylor's offer be his first student assistant and studied under him for two years for his MS degree. In June, 1938, after graduation, he became a full-time wildlife biologist with the Texas Game, Fish and Oyster Commission and was assigned to southeast Texas as Regional Game Manager, under the first Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Project W-1-R. He worked four years in Austin as an administrator, before choosing to return to East Texas for field work, in 1945.
Approximately forty publications in professional journals and transactions and sixty popular articles resulted from his investigations, some with coauthors. Subjects included restocking deer and turkey, forest wildlife ecology, multiple use on the Texas National Forests, biodiversity, loss of wildlife in fire-ant control, muskrats, bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer, red-cockaded woodpecker, coastal zone management, and state-wide mitigation. He was junior author with Dr. Joe C. Truett of Land of Bears and Honey: A Natural History of East Texas, 1984.
He was a charter member of The Wildlife Society and the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society. He belonged to the Mammalogy Society, Audubon Society, Society of American Foresters and others. He was listed as an associate faculty member of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Forestry.
He received recognition in 1968 from the Texas Forestry Association for its first forest-research award. He was one of ten professional wildlife workers to be recognized by the American Motors Corporation in 1969. Several other awards followed. After retirement he continued to work in the forests of East Texas as a consultant in wildlife and forestry, until age 80. Lay died September 15, 2002 in Nacogdoches, at the age of 88.