In Where the Red Fern Grows, Billy's grandfather explains that the coon tried to fool the dogs by doing what?
With Old Dan and Little Ann right on his tail, the coon had climbed a water oak standing about ten feet from the river and apparently disappeared. The dogs did not sense him in the tree, but they could not pick up his scent anywhere along the river. Just about the time the hounds had given up trying to find the coon, Little Ann had detected an animal along the riverbank, and had given chase. Billy had believed it was a different coon from the original one which had seemingly disappeared up the water oak, but Grandpa disagrees.
Grandpa explains that the coon had pulled a trick on Old Dan and Little Ann which would have fooled "nine out of ten dogs." He had used what is called "the backtracking trick." Using his fork as a pencil on the tablecloth, Grandpa draws imaginary lines to illustrate what had happened. According to Grandpa, the coon had climbed the water oak, but had gone up only a little ways, then had turned around and come down in his same tracks, backtracking on his original trail for awhile before the dogs had come upon the scene. When the dogs had been close, he had leaped "far up on the side of the nearest tree and climbed up" to the top. The coon had been hiding in this second tree the whole time the dogs were frantically searching for his trail near the first tree, the water tree. When it appeared that the dogs had given up and everything had quieted down, he had come down from his hiding place. Unfortunately for him, that's when Little Ann detected him and took off in hot pursuit. Although Billy had thought at this point that his hounds were chasing a second coon, in reality, it was the same one (Chapters 8 and 9).