Where the Red Fern Grows Chapter 8
Opening day for hunting season is here and Billy gets ready for the big night of hunting. Papa tells him that he can hunt during hunting season all he wants because he doesn't need much help with farming at this time of year. Mama is worried about Billy being out in the woods all alone at night, but Papa assures her that everything will be fine, as Billy is practically a man.
Old Dan and Little Ann are all ready for hunting. They are waiting for Billy on the porch steps to leave. Mama, Papa, and Billy's sisters wave goodbye and Billy and his dogs begin their first night of hunting.
The dogs run off on the trail. Billy follows behind and listens intently to the sounds around him. Finally, he hears Old Dan and Little Ann barking. Billy knows they found a coon. He is so overcome with excitement that he starts to cry. He whoops back at them and goes after his dogs. When he finally gets to them, he sees that they lost the coon because it probably jumped into the water. The dogs were too frightened to go in after it. Billy will not help his dogs because he wants them to do it for themselves. He tells them to remember their training. And with that, Little Ann jumps into the river. Old Dan follows her and they are once again on the trail of the coon. The coon tricks them and crosses the river again. Just as Billy tells his dogs to forget about the coon and that they can hunt somewhere else, Little Ann darts off into the brush after the coon. Old Dan follows after her and they are again on the hunt. Billy hears that the dogs got the coon up a tree (this means Billy can finally get the coon). However, when he finally arrives at the tree, he sees it is the biggest, and well-known sycamore tree in the woods. There is no way Billy can climb this tree to get the coon out of it. But, Old Dan and Little Ann will not stop barking at the coon in the tree.
Billy starts to cut the tree down. It is a tremendous task, but his dogs keep him motivated. Little Anne licks the sweat off of Billy's face and Old Dan checks Billy's work from time to time. Billy chops into the night and by sun-up, he needs sleep. He is awakened by the sounds of Papa's voice. Papa finds Billy and tells him that Mama and he were concerned when Billy didn't come home. He suggests that Billy leaves the tree and finds a smaller one to chop down, but Billy will not hear of it. He insists on chopping this tree down.
"'I thought about that, Papa,' I said, 'but I made a bargain with my dogs. I told them that if they would put one in a tree, I'd do the rest. Well, they fulfilled their part of the bargain. Now it's up to me to do my part, and I'm going to, Papa. I'm going to cut it down. I don't care if it takes me a year.'" Chapter 8, pg. 80
Papa asks Billy if he wants to go home and eat some breakfast. Meanwhile, Papa will stay and chop the tree. Billy declines the offer; he made the promise to his dogs and he is going to fulfill that promise. Papa is proud of Billy and his commitment to his word, even if it is to two dogs. Papa leaves and around lunchtime, Billy's sister arrives with a basket of food. She thinks he is crazy to think he can chop down a tree that size. Billy doesn't care what she says. He chases her out of the woods with a stick. He is starved and he eats like never before. There are even some scraps for the dogs. After lunch, Billy is reenergized; he continues to chop and his dogs watch his every move.