For the past seven years my husband has paid to put me in the drawing for a big horn sheep tag. The first year he put me in for the drawing, he thought I was a shoe-in. I should have been, because way back then the difference between the number of applicants and the number of tags given out was less than five. He was sure I would draw it, but sadly I didn’t.

The next year he was positive I would draw it, but again I didn’t. Then the following year there was a pneumonia outbreak in big horn sheep herds across Montana. Luckily the area I have been putting in for my tag was not as affected by the outbreak as some others were. However, this did mean more people would be applying for the same tag I was, as the tags given out for the other herds were significantly reduced or stopped all together.

After that blow to the big horn sheep population, my chances of drawing a tag actually decreased. However, this didn’t stop my husband from putting me in for the tag. Well, I received a pleasant surprise this year when my name was one of five to be drawn for an ewe big horn sheep tag this year.

This past weekend, my husband, brother and my four boys all loaded up in the family truckster and headed out to find my sheep. It took a little time, and a few long hikes up some steep and treacherous mountainsides, but we finally found a heard of sheep. Now the hard part was just making sure I shot an ewe and not a young ram, because they have about the same horn size and are about the same size.

If you accidentally shoot a young ram instead of an ewe, you can receive a hefty $30,000 fine. So we wanted to be 100 percent sure I was shooting an ewe. So, we watched the small group of sheep for a while and when we were positive we could tell the ewes from the young rams, I picked out the one that I wanted to harvest.

All in all this was a pretty fun hunt. Bringing the kids along made it even more exciting. They didn’t get to see me shoot the ewe, but they did get to help gut it out and pose for tons of pictures. I have to say that it was a pretty good Saturday afternoon during hunting season in beautiful Western Montana.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.