Like Blood in the Snow (p. 999, J-319) this is ultimately a condemnation of hunting, but as Jess, a 14-year-old Oklahoma boy, begins as an enthusiastic partner of his Black-and-Tan hound Queenie, the perspective is both less naive and more affecting. Jess has learned the tricks of treeing coons and possums from his Dad, who loves the sport but admits that sometimes a fellow ""can't help wondering about it when he looks at the dead animal the next morning."" He is used to skinning the catch, a job that doesn't bother him much until he needs $50 worth of pelts to buy back another hound, Duke, that Dad returned when he proved useless on the trail. After making his first solitary kill--breaking the neck of a big possum with his rifle butt--Jess begins to wonder whether the price for Duke isn't going to be too high. And other incidents confirm his doubts--a hunting trip with his Indian friend Maurice turns ugly when a third boy insists they stage a play shoot-out with loaded guns, and later the two witness a brawl that turns into murder. There's no question of rebellion here--Dad is willing to accept Jess' decision--just one boy's gut reaction against a sport both his Dad and Maurice find as natural as breathing.