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In the book Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, Billy is respectful of nature and living things. However, he is a coon hunter. His dogs had been on the trail of the ghost coon and they had treed it, but even though Billy had looked in the tree twice and all its holes and crooks, he could not find a coon. Suddenly, Little Ann started howling as the wind blew. She had caught scent of the coon. She howled the howl of a dog that had treed a coon. It was then that Billy noticed the old post. He checked the post and found that it dropped right under a tree branch. He poked a stick into it and out jumped the raccoon.
The two dogs fought the coon fiercely and the coon fought back. Finally it went up the tree and Billy went after it to get it down for the dogs. The animal was older and howled like a baby's cry. For some reason it bothered Billy reminding him of how a baby would cry out. He never liked to hear a coon cry like that at the end of its life. Something just came over Billy and he did not have the heart to kill it. He told his friend it was because the coon had lived there for a longtime and many a hunter had heard its call, so he did not kill it or let his friend send it out.
Billy made the right decision. Sometimes, even a coon hunter has to respect that a creature had been able to survive a longtime and just give the animal its due. The coon was wise and had been outsmarting many hunters for years. Billy and his dogs had proved themselves by locating the coon, so allowing it to live longer just proved that Billy was moving towards manhood and compassion.
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