Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

  • It's time. Everyone piles into the buggy and heads off to hunt.
  • The judge and Billy's dad are walking along talking about the weather and the beauty of the mountains, just like it's a relaxing nature hike. 
  • Billy is a bit more focused.
  • The small talk is broken by the sound of Little Ann hot on a coon's trail. The hounds chase that coon all the way to the campground and back before they tree it.
  • Once it's treed, Billy's dad pulls out a pistol to scare the raccoon down. Boy, does that work. The coon is down in a flash and the hounds kill it in no time.
  • The hounds tree their second coon just across the river. This treeing is interrupted by some hijinks: Billy's grandpa falls in while trying to cross the river. He's not hurt; it's just sort of funny.
  • Oh yeah, so hilarious to watch the elderly fall into freezing cold rivers. We're cracking up over here.
  • Billy catches and kills another coon, and then builds a fire to warm up Gramps.
  • Now it's around three in the morning and the judge starts asking if they thought the dogs would be able to catch another coon. No pressure or anything, but if they don't, Billy's out.
  • But seriously, no pressure.
  • As if on cue, Old Dan starts barking. He's got a trail. They search for a while without finding it, and then Old Dan starts barking to say that he's got a coon—but Little Ann is silent, and Little Ann is the one who knows what's up.
  • So they keep on searching. One by one, everyone loses faith: the judge, grandpa, and even Billy's dad.
  • But, duh, not Billy. He's not giving up on his dogs.
  • And, big surprise, they find their third coon. Billy's going on to the finals.
  • When Billy gets back to the campsite all the hunters go crazy for him. They are super excited that he gets to compete in the final round, which is very sportsman-like and a little sweet.
  • The judge goes on and on about what good hunters the little hounds are, while Billy heads back to his tent to get some sleep.
  • He can't sleep too well, so he goes and lies down between his dogs. That does the trick, because he falls right asleep.
  • These three are inseparable, and kind of adorable.
  • Last night. None of the hunters get more than two coons, so they're all out.
  • The final round is just Billy and two other hunting teams.
  • That evening, while Billy is prepping for the hunt, a hunter stops by their camp and tells them he's been collecting a jackpot for the winner. Just about every hunter in the place is hoping that Billy wins.
  • When Billy turns the hounds loose that night, they turn and look back at him. See, they know how important this is.
  • They're on a trail almost right away. After a terrifying struggle in the water, the hounds catch the coon and before you know it Billy has his first coonskin of the night.
  • The hounds stop just long enough to lick each other's wounds (um, is that entirely hygienic?), and they're off again.

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