Study Guide

Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

  • Billy's got his hounds, but he's missing something. A raccoon pelt to train them. Man, it's always something, right?
  • Sure, he's got traps, but raccoons are too smart to fall for it. Weeks go by, and he's still raccoon-less.
  • Finally, his grandpa tells him a surefire way to catch a raccoon. (Although we don't know why Gramps didn't clue Billy into this earlier.)
  • He just needs a brace (a tool used for drilling holes) and some nails. You drill a hole in the log and put something shiny in the bottom. Then you drive nails along the shaft, so the raccoon can get his hand in. But once he grabs the shiny object at the bottom, he can't get it out and he's stuck. Voila!
  • Do you see a flaw here? Billy does, too. He asks his grandpa why the raccoons won't just open their freaky little paws and drop the object. The peculiar thing about raccoons, his grandpa tells him, is that once they grab onto something they won't let go, ever.
  • Um. That sounds a lot like some dog-loving boy we know.
  • Billy's a little dubious, but he takes his grandpa's advice and sets fourteen traps in logs along the river.
  • He checks them the next day. Boom. All empty. Guess Gramps doesn't know what he's talking about—or does he?
  • His dad tells him that the raccoons were probably scared off by the scent of a human. Billy just needs to be patient (again), and he'll get his raccoon.
  • Apparently, Billy's patience is all used up, because he ignores his dad and checks the traps every morning for a week with no luck. He gets a bit depressed about this.
  • And then, one morning, there's a raccoon in one of the traps! And boy, is it an angry raccoon.
  • Tiny little Old Dan charges the raccoon. Remember, he's the not-too-bright one.
  • Billy suspects that this is not going to end well, so he grabs his pups and runs for home.
  • His mom sees Billy running like crazy and thinks a snake has bitten him, so she yells to his dad, and there is all sorts of confusion while Billy tries to explain that he just caught a really ticked-off raccoon.
  • Everyone heads out to the trap. The family that kills raccoons together, stays together.
  • On the way, Billy explains how the pups charged the raccoon without any fear. His dad tells him this is a good sign for them as hunting dogs.
  • When they get to the raccoon, Billy's dad picks up a club (be prepared, this is about to get gruesome) and whacks the raccoon twice on the head.
  • Done and done. One raccoon pelt, coming up.
  • The sisters have already run back to the house, crying. GIRLS.
  • Billy's dad tells him he should take down all the traps, because this isn't a fair way to trap a raccoon. You should at least give them a sporting chance. Life lesson, you guys!
  • Anyway, Billy finally has his hounds and a pelt to train them with. And boy does he ever train them.
  • It's immediately clear that Little Ann is going to be the better tracker, but Old Dan is stubborn and determined. Together, they make a perfect hunting pair.
  • The chapter ends with Billy having a heart to heart with his pups before hunting season starts. He tells them he's proud of them and it's going to be up to them now. He's done all he can, but it's time to see what they're made of.
  • (Also, can they please remember to call home once in a while, and only use his credit card for emergencies?)

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