Chapter 4 Summary
Today the Baxters will hunt Old Slewfoot. They gather supplies, including a hunk of dried alligator meat used to feed the dogs, and Jody has to wear his shoes. The trail leads south and the footprints are easy to find and follow; Baxter almost always catches his game. All three dogs are with them, but Old Julia is the best tracker; the hunters see signs that the bear is eating fire-plant along the trail.
Baxter has respect for the animals he kills, unlike the Forresters who kill for pleasure. Baxter loads his gun and they realize Slewfoot is running toward the creek. He does not have a clear shot because the dogs are leaping and retreating. Suddenly the bear stops and feigns indifference; Baxter shoots, but his gun does not fire. Now the bear battles two of the dogs and the hounds are valiant. Baxter fires again, but this time the gun backfires and Slewfoot nearly kills Julia.
Baxter bravely enters the fight and shoves the gun barrel into the bear’s ribs. Slewfoot turns in pain and runs, two dogs clinging desperately to him before dropping off when the bear plunges into the thicket. Baxter retrieves the badly wounded Julia. It is time for Baxter to get a new gun.
They head home, and it breaks Jody’s heart to see how wounded Julia is. Rip follows behind them, and they find Perk cowering in some bushes; he is obviously not a bear dog. At home, Baxter sews Julia’s gashes and settles her into Jody’s room where they will both watch her tonight. Jody likes everything about hunting bear except the actual confrontation. His father explains that all animals must kill or go hungry, just like the Baxters. Jody sleeps as his father tends to Julia.