Chapter 16 Summary
At dusk on Thursday evening, Billy’s hounds finally get the chance to hunt in the fourth round of elimination. The judge accompanies the team to a remote area away from the camp. Billy hopes his hounds will find amply quarry in this area, which has yet to be hunted. Almost in response to his expectation, his hounds immediately find a scent and begin chase.
Billy, his father, his grandfather, and the judge busily clamor to keep with his hounds. Unfortunately, his grandfather becomes entangled in some brush and loses his hat and eyeglasses. The excitement of the hunt is intensified when the hounds chase the raccoon through the campsite. All the hunters yell and scream in support of Billy’s hounds. When the hounds finally tree the raccoon, Billy earns his first hide in the competition. Even the judge is impressed with Old Dan’s and Little Ann’s ability to track the raccoon.
Following their first success, the hounds quickly tree a second raccoon; Billy’s grandfather has another mishap, falling into the icy cold water. After skinning the raccoon, Billy’s grandfather partially disrobes to dry himself before the fire. Before he is completely dry, however, Billy’s hounds begin howling wildly. Again the team strikes out to follow them, but it is nearing daybreak and there is little time left in the elimination round. Billy’s faith in his hounds is rewarded by a third capture and a third hide. The judge is further awed by the tracking ability of Billy’s hounds. They return to the campsite and the tale of Billy’s hounds is spread throughout the camp.
Following the fifth and final night of elimination, Billy learns that his hounds have qualified for the final round of competition. Only three of the twenty-five teams have qualified for the final elimination round, and Billy is both excited and anxious to be included. He knows that his hounds will have to compete against the best hounds in the region. In addition, the hunters have amassed a prize box that contains monetary contributions to be awarded to the winner of the contest. He feels pressured to win.
That night, the hunting begins again, and Billy’s hounds quickly hit the trail of a raccoon. This time, the raccoon was both very old and very experienced, employing many tricks to lose the hounds. After an exhaustive chase and a vicious fight, Old Dan and Little Ann capture and kill the raccoon. Then the dogs lick one another’s wounds and ready themselves for the next chase.