I wanted hunting dogs like a person on a deserted island would want food

But my parents couldn't get me any because over money they'd brood

So, over two years, vegetables I sold

Because to me dogs were more valuable than gold

Once I had enough money I went to my grandfather's store

To place an order for the dogs I knew I would adore

Days later, I ventured to the nearest town

Where I knew my dogs would be found

On the way home, I saw Dan and Ann carved in a tree

And I knew in an instant what their names would be

After they had completed their many drills

We went off hunting in the hills

Grandpa would say I had the best coon hounds in the land

But one day his bragging went a little out of hand

When the Pritchard boys talked of a bet

My grandfather became very upset

The "ghost coon" was what the bet was about

No man could catch him, short or stout

He would always go up a tree and disappear

Whenever a hound came near

We finally caught the ghost coon that day

But a terrible price we had to pay

On my double bitted ax Rubin did fall

And on the ground he did sprawl

I put some flowers on his grave

That, I thought, was very brave

Then Grandpa entered me in a coon hunting contest

I tried and I tried and I did my best

Four coon skins were all that I needed

It meant so much to my mother that I succeeded

One night, when the Ozark moon was a bright, freshly washed plate in the sky

Old Dan let out a cry

He was on the trail of a mountain cat

Soon, my dogs and I were in mortal combat

When the lion was dead, he fell to the ground

The next one to die would be my hound

Old Dan died that night

Hours after his grand display of might

Some days later, Little Ann went too

Mainly because her heart was broken in two

The following spring when we moved to the city

I looked upon my dogs' grave with pity

There I saw a sacred red fern

Whose legend I knew and had learned

My dogs I knew I would never forget

Even after all these years have aged me yet