Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

wheretheredferngrows.jpgWhere the Red Fern Grows tells the the exciting story of 10-year old Billy living in the Ozark Mountains during the Great Depression. After saving for two years Billy earns enough money to buy two hound pups, Ol'Dan and Li'l Ann. Together Billy and these two hounds go coon hunting almost daily. They even enter a coon hunting tournament. Read Where the Red Fern Grows to see if this young boy and his two coon hounds can beat the older contestants in the coon hunt.

Notes and assignments are available for download at the bottom of the page.

Did You Know?

The Time & Place
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The Ozarks, somtimes called the Ozark Plateau, is a highland region located primarily in northwest Arkansas, southwestMissouri, and northeast Oklahoma. It is an area of astonishing beauty. Deep valleys contrast with low mountains and are cut by the waters of numerous winding rivers. The region’s natural resources—thick forests of oak, maple, hickory, and pine; mountain streams; deep caves; and a vast array of plants and animals—make it a fascinating place to explore. Unusual place names like Pea Vine Hollow,Sparrow Hawk Mountains, and Bluebird Creek add to the area’s charm.

During the 1920s, when the novel takes place, daily life on an Ozark farm was difficult. Most residents made do without running water and electricity. School was too far for a daily commute. Some parents taught their children to read and write, but other parents weren’t able to do these things themselves, and so couldn’t teach their children. Other than an occasional trip into town, families had little contact with outsiders. Their social contact was limited to their closest neighbors.

Coon Hounds
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Several kinds of hounds are mentioned in the novel, including redbones, blueticks, walkers, and blood hounds. All of these hounds pursue game, particularly raccoons, by scent. Each breed has its own desirable hunting characteristics, such as speed and endurance.


Billy’s dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, are redbone hounds. The redbone hound is best known for its loud voice, strong nose (capable of locating and maintaining the scent of a raccoon), persistence, and well-developed treeing instinct. It is comfortable in water and on rough terrain. These dogs are especially brave and tough, willing to take on a bear or even a mountain lion.

Redbones are typical of other hounds in height and weight, ranging from 21 to 26 inches and 45 to 75 pounds. Their color is their most distinctive feature, ranging from a deep red to a light tan. In general, they are intelligent dogs that have a strong sense that they are hunting for their master, not just themselves. Much less independent than other coon hounds, they tend to be stubborn and make good watchdogs.

Raccoons
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Raccoons are common animals in the Ozarks region. A raccoon is recognizable by its black “burglar’smask” pattern around its eyes and its bushy, ringed tail. The tail serves as a brace when the raccoon sits on its haunches and provides balance when the animal is climbing.

Considered to be intelligent animals, raccoons try to confuse their predators by creating a maze of tracks. They avoid predators by running along the tops of fence posts and climbing trees. When forced, raccoons will reveal their strength and fight viciously to survive. Most adult coon hounds have battle wounds from fighting with these ferocious animals. During combat, raccoons will lie on their backs to use their sharp claws and teeth to the best advantage. 

Raccoons usually search for food along the water’s edge. Because they dip their food in water before they eat it, humans think raccoons clean their food before eating it. However, raccoons’ sense of touch is heightened when their fingers are wet, which is probably the reason raccoons “wash” their food.

Where does Billy live?


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