Ott DeFoe, the 2019 Bassmaster Classic champion and a current member of Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour, is recovering in a Knoxville, Tenn. area hospital after heart surgery earlier this week.


DeFoe, 33, told his fans on social media late last week that he began noticing he was out of breath during the days centered around his Classic win in March. When his symptoms worsened, DeFoe saw a doctor and eventually had medical tests done.


Those tests revealed that DeFoe was suffering from a torn mitral valve in his heart. Following a heart catherization procedure on Monday, the minimally invasive surgery took place on Tuesday and was reportedly a success.


While DeFoe was forced to miss this week’s regular season ending BPT tournament in Wisconsin, DeFoe’s doctors say that he should be recovered in 8 to 10 days.


“We’ve gotten so many texts and really appreciate everyone praying for us during this time,” DeFoe told his fans on Instagram after the original announcement about his heart condition. “Very humbling! Thank you all so much. God is in control and will bring us through this in His way. To Him be the glory!”


Big Time Texas Hunts — For more than two decades now, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has hit a home run with the Austin-based agency’s Big Time Texas Hunts.


Those prize packages offer hunters around the state the chance to win premium hunting trips, while helping to support wildlife conservation and habitat management efforts in Texas at the same time.


In the 20+ years TPWD has offered such hunting prize packages, they’ve rarely been any bigger or better than they are this year when the agency is offering 10 premium hunting packages on some of the best private ranches and TPWD Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) across the Lone Star State.


According to a TPWD news release, this year’s prize packages include a nilgai antelope safari in South Texas; a three to five-day trophy mule deer hunt in the Texas Panhandle; a South Texas trophy whitetail hunt in the heart of the brush country; and other whitetail hunts on several ranches and WMA’s scattered around the state.


There’s also an exotic safari for gemsbok, scimitar-horned oryx, and axis deer at the Mason Mountain WMA; a Gulf Coast trophy alligator hunt at the J.D. Murphree WMA; a waterfowl hunting adventure for wood ducks, mallards, and geese; a trio of bird hunts for doves, quail, and Rio Grande turkey; and a wild hog hunting adventure in South Texas.


And, of course, there’s the granddaddy of them all, the long running Texas Grand Slam hunting prize package. As you might recall, the Grand Slam package is quite literally the Texas hunting package of a lifetime, offering one lucky winner four separate big game hunts across the Lone Star State for desert bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope and desert mule deer.


While the whitetail, mule deer, and antelope hunts are nothing to sneeze at, the ultimate prize is the opportunity to hunt a desert bighorn sheep in Texas, something that few hunters ever get to do since only two or three permits are available on state lands each year.


What’s more, the winner of the Texas Grand Slam prize package will also receive complimentary food and lodging on each of the four hunting trips, receive taxidermy work for each hunt (provided by Woodbury Taxidermy), be guided by professional guides on each hunt, and be able to bring along a non-hunting guest for each trip.


Tickets are $9 online or $10 at a local TPWD license dealer and must be purchased by Oct. 15, 2019. For information, visit TPWD’s website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/btth/ or call the agency toll free at 1-800-792-1112.


Federal Duck Stamps Go on Sale — Ducks Unlimited reports in a news release that the new 2019-2020 federal duck stamp goes on sale today, Friday, June 28.


“Duck stamps are a great way for hunters, conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts to invest in wetland and waterfowl conservation,” said new DU CEO Adam Putnam, who will be in Springfield, Mo. today for a first day of sale ceremony at Bass Pro Shops.


“Whether you hunt or not, buy one or more duck stamps every year to help conserve our wetlands,” he added. “The federal duck stamp program raises millions of dollars used to purchase and protect wetland habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System. These habitats benefit waterfowl and hundreds of additional species of wildlife.”


DU says that the theme of this year’s 80th annual Federal Duck Stamp is “Celebrating Our Waterfowl Hunting Heritage.” Featuring a wood duck and decoy as painted by winning artist Scott Storm, this year’s stamp costs $25 and is valid from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. The federal duck stamp is required for hunters over 16 who are hunting ducks and geese.


The duck stamp, or the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp as it is technically named, first came into being back in 1934. Since then, the program has raised more than $1 billion to help acquire and protect more than six million acres of habitat in the National Wildlife Refuge System, including lands at Lake Texoma’s Hagerman NWR and Tishomingo NWR.