Where The Red Fern Grows
"I was walking along whistling when I heard the dogfight", Billy
starts the story. He rescued an old redbone hound dog and took it home. This
brought memories back to his mind. It all happened over 50 years ago. This is a
story about friendship between two coon hounds and a boy named Billy Colman.

Billy is ten years old and lives in the Ozark Mountains. He had long
straw-colored hair that was shaggy. He wore patched and faded coveralls. Billy
did not wear shoes during the summer. He was a good boy and worked hard to help
his mother and father. His family lived in a farm on a Cherokee land because his
mother was part Cherokee Indian. Billy\'s mother taught Billy reading, writing
and arithmetics. They lived in a log house near the Illinois river. Billy loved
the nature and roamed the hill and river bottoms. He knew every game trail and
every animal track. He was most fascinated by the tracks of a river coon.
"I was a hunter from the time I could walk", he tells. He hunted
lizards, rats, frogs and other animals. He wanted to have dogs but his mom and
dad did not have the money. A pair of coon hound would cost $ 75. Billy\'s father
bought him three small steel traps. He took them to bed with him. Billy started
to trap the next morning and caught their cat Samie. Very soon the cat was
limping with all four legs. After he caught his mom\'s chicken he had to set the
traps in the forest. He caught opossums, skunks, rabbits and squirrels, but he
wanted to have a coonskin. One day he went to Shannon Ford where the fishermen
camped. He found things the fishermen left behind. He had found a knife and a
fishing pole and other stuff. Now he found the magazine. In the magazine was a
small ad: Registered Redbone Coonhound Pups Twenty-five Dollars Each Billy
remembered a passage from the bible that said: "God helps those who help
themselves " and slowly saw the plan began to form. He could sell stuff to
fishermen and save money. Billy had 23 cents which he put in an old can and
started to work. He caught crawfish and minnows, and trapped opossum, squirrels
and skunks. He picked up blackberries. A good hide would sell for 25 cents and a
bucket of berries for 10 cents. It took him one year to save twenty-seven
dollars and forty-six cents. Billy worked another year and had his fifty
dollars. He took the money to his grandfather who had a store and asked him to
buy the coonhounds. Billy\'s grandpa loved Billy very much. He was very fair and
hardworking. Billy waited for days. Then they got the message that the dogs were
in depot in a near by town. Billy did not want to wait for a week when a
neighbor went to town. He packed a bag and started walking. The town was 20
miles away and it took Billy all night to get there. He got the pups and walked
back. On his way back he spent a night in a cave and was scared by a mountain
lion. He stopped at the camping ground he had found the magazine. He saw two
names carved on a tree: Dan and Ann and decided to name his dogs Old Dan and

Little Ann. Billy wanted to train his pups to hunt coons but he needed to have a
coonskin to train them. His grandpa taught him a trick to catch a coon. It took
him a week to get the coon. He taught his dogs every trick he knew. Billy got
most of his ideas from the stories the coon hunters would tell at his grandpa\'s
store. Billy tied his first coon hide to a string and drag it around the forest.

He would drag it through the water, and walk up and down the river bank. He
would pull the skin up a tree and swing it twenty or more feet away from the
tree as the coons would try to trick the dogs. He trained them all summer and
waited the hunting season to open. He was almost fourteen. Little Ann is the
brain of the team. A smart old coon would climb a tree jump far away from the
tree. This move would trick many dogs, but Little Ann would find the trail once
again. She was small. Her