One Spring morning, a mother fox and her cub dashed through a meadow. A hunter and his dogs were chasing them! A kindly owl named Big Mama watched as the mother fox placed her baby in the tall grass by the fence, then ran away, hoping the dogs would follow her.
The baby fox waited and waited, but there was no sign of his mother. Big Mama and her two friends, Dinky the sparrow and Boomer the woodpecker, came to help the frightened fox. "Now, don't you worry," the owl said. "Big Mama will find someone to take care of you."
"We'll lead the nice Widow Tweed right to him," Big Mama suggested. Boomer approached the Widow's door. "Tap-tap tap-tap," Boomer knocked-but he didn't move fast enough, and as the Widow swung the door open, thump! went Boomer!
Big Mama and Dinky snatched Widow Tweed's bloomers from her clothesline! When the Widow ran after them, the clever birds dropped the bloomers right on top of the baby fox.
When Widow Tweed picked up her laundry, she found the baby fox underneath. "Well, bless my soul!" cried Widow Tweed. "What are you doing here?"
The warmhearted Widow loved the sweet little fox at once. "My, you're such a little toddler," she cooed. "That's what I'll call you. Tod." Tod liked his new name. He liked the Widow Tweed, too.
Not far from Widow Tweed's tidy farm was Amos Slade's ramshackle place, where he lived alone with his old dog Chief. Amos bounced home in his rattletrap truck-but he wasn't all by himself. Amos had a little passenger with him.
Amos was a hunting man, and his passenger was a puppy. "How's this for a hunting dog?" Amos asked old Chief. "His name's Copper, and he's yours to look after from now on."
Tod spent his carefree days playing and exploring Widow Tweed's farm and the woods around it. He was never very far from the watchful eyes of Big Mama, Boomer, and Dinky. He wasn't very far from Chief and Copper over at Amos Slade's place, either.
"Hey there, Copper, what are you sniffing at?" Chief asked. "Something I never smelled before," Copper said, with his nose to the ground. "I want to find out what that smell is."
Copper soon found out. He followed the scent through a hollow log and found himself nose-to-nose with a fox! "I'm a fox. My name's Tod!" the little fox said. "Mine's Copper. I'm a hound dog!" the puppy replied.
The two youngsters raced and played and rolled and ran, all through the woods, all afternoon long. By the time the sun began to set, the fox and the hound knew they were the best of friends.
When Copper returned home that evening, Amos was very angry that the puppy had gone off on his own. He tied Copper to his doghouse with a strong rope, so the puppy could not wander away from home again.
Tod was very sad to see his new friend in trouble. "Golly, you're all tied up," Tod said.
Sound asleep in the doghouse next door, old Chief snored loudly. Tod was so curious about this big dog and the loud noise he made that he had to get a closer look.
Suddenly, Chief awoke with a yell. "Fox!" the old hound barked as he leapt after Tod, chasing the young fox around the yard. Amos Slade came out of the house with his shotgun blasting!
Tod ran for his life from the barking, snarling Chief and the trigger-happy Amos. The little fox ran after Widow Tweed's milk wagon, and startled the poor old woman. "Tod!" she cried out in surprise.
Amos fired at Widow Tweed's milk wagon, shooting dozens of holes into her milk cans. The milk poured out onto the road. The Widow grabbed Amos Slade's gun from his hands, and emptied a load of buckshot into the front of his truck!
"Your thieving fox was after my chickens!" Amos yelled. "Rubbish and poppycock!" The Widow yelled back. "He wouldn't hurt a thing!" "If I ever catch that fox on my property again, I'll blast him!" Amos growled. "And next time, I won't miss!"
The next day, Amos loaded up the truck with supplies for a big hunting trip. Of course, Chief and Copper were going along, too. "Well, boys, we're getting out of here until next Spring," Amos told the dogs. "Good riddance!" Widow Tweed said, watching them from her kitchen window.
Tod watched sadly as his friend Copper rode away in the back of Amos's truck. Big Mama saw how sad the little fox was. She tried to explain that Copper would come back changed. "Copper will be a trained hunting dog-a real killer!" Big Mama warned Tod. Tod was confused. "You mean Copper is going to be my enemy?"
Over the Winter, Copper had learned how to be a hunting dog just like Chief. By Spring, Copper was no longer a puppy, but a full-grown hound, with a nose that could track anything! Copper now sat proudly in the front seat with Amos.
During the Winter, Tod had grown up, too. Big Mama, Boomer, and Dinky had a happy reunion with Tod.
That night, Tod crept over to Amos Slade's place to see his old friend Copper. "We're still friends aren't we?" the fox asked the hound. "Tod, I'm a hunting dog now," Copper told the fox. "You'd better get out of here before old Chief wakes up."
Just then, Chief suddenly began to bark! He snarled, and bared his teeth at Tod. Startled, Tod bolted off into the night.
The noise woke Amos, who ran out onto the porch. "It's that fox again!" Amos hollered, grabbing his shotgun. Amos called to Copper and Chief. "After him, boys!" Amos ordered. "Go get him!"
A wild chase through the dark woods led Tod to a tall railroad bridge, with Chief right behind him. Amos and Copper watched from below. "There they are!" Amos called. "Old Chief's got him on the run!"
Just then, a train rounded the curve onto the bridge. It was heading right toward them! Tod ducked between the railroad ties as the train passed over him. "Jump, Chief, Jump!" Amos cried.
Chief was too slow, and the train came too fast. The old hound was hit by the speeding train. Chief plummeted down toward the river below.
Copper was at Chief's side in a flash. He could see that Chief was very badly hurt.
With his friend Chief lying injured, Copper was overcome with anger. The hound bared his teeth and growled at the frightened fox on the railroad bridge high above. "Tod, if it's the last thing I do, I'll get you for this!" Copper snarled.
Later, inside Amos Slade's house, Chief was recovering from his accident-and he was making the most of it! He enjoyed the warm house, and all the attention that Amos gave him. "It sure beats sleeping in that barrel," Chief chuckled.
Widow Tweed realized that keeping Tod as a pet on the farm was not the best thing for him. She decided to set Tod free in the game preserve on the far side of the forest. "You'll always be in my heart," the Widow sadly told Tod.
Amos had seen Widow Tweed taking Tod away to the game preserve. "Now we'll get him," he told Copper. Amos showed Copper a trap lined with sharp steel teeth. "When that fox comes along, suspecting nothing-snap!" the hunter growled.
Big Mama knew that, not being used to living in the forest, Tod might need a little help. She flew deep into the forest, looking for Tod. Far below in the meadow, Big Mama saw another fox. Suddenly, she had an idea.
Big Mama found Tod frazzled and worn from his first night in the forest. "Cheer up and look around. The forest is beautiful this morning," Big Mama said, pointing to a tree.
Big Mama had perfectly posed the fox she had seen rom above in the rays of the early morning sunshine. "Wow! Who is that?" Tod asked. "Oh, just another fox," Big Mama replied. "A lady fox..."
Tod rushed over to meet the beautiful lady fox. "What's your name?" Tod asked. "I'm Vixey," the lady fox replied. "I'm Tod," he replied shyly.
Soon, Tod had a new best friend. "Tod, I just know you're going to love the forest," Vixey said. "Let me show you around." "Sure," Tod replied. He loved the forest already.
Meanwhile, Amos and Copper were tracking the fox. "Go get him, boy," Amos said, "Sniff him out!" Copper found Tod's scent, and Amos laid out his horrible traps.
Vixey sensed danger. "I don't want to go in there, Tod," she said. "It's too quiet." Tod moved ahead along the path. "Be careful," Vixey called after him.
Tod barely missed the snapping jaws of the steel trap, and skittered past Amos and his shotgun. Copper cornered Tod, snarling and baring his teeth at the terrified fox. But Tod was brave, and managed to escape!
Amos and Copper continued to track Tod and Vixey. Tod and Vixey managed to stay ahead of the hunters, climbing higher and higher.
Amos and Copper caught up with the foxes, just as they were crossing a narrow log bridge over a raging waterfall. Just then, Copper picked up a new scent-something he had never smelled before!
Suddenly, Amos was face to face with a gigantic black bear! The bear let out a deep growl, and stepped toward the alarmed hunter.
Frightened, Amos stepped backward into his own steel trap. Snap! His leg was caught, as the bear came toward him! Copper leapt onto the bear's back, snarling and biting, trying bravely to defend the injured hunter.
Tod heard the barking and growling. Then he heard a terrible yelp! Tod decided to go back and help his old friend.
The snarling bear circled Copper, who lay hurt and whimpering. The angry bear prepared for a final attack on the wounded dog.
Suddenly, a flash of red fur came out of nowhere. Tod leapt onto the startled bear's back, and distracted him from Copper.
The growling bear turned and followed Tod onto the shaky log bridge. The log shook with the thump of each heavy footstep, as the bear came closer and closer to Tod.
Crack! The bear was too heavy for the rickety bridge, and it fell out from under his weight. The log, the bear, and Tod plummeted into the cold, raging water below.
Down river, a battered, weary Tod struggled toward the shore. Copper reached the riverbank and called out to his old friend.
Suddenly, Amos stepped forward, his shotgun aimed right at Tod! Copper stepped in between the gun and his old friend. Copper looked up to Amos. The hound's sad eyes said everything. Amos lowered his gun.
Now that they were both safe, the two friends parted for the last time, They were both grateful, but sad.
Widow Tweed took it upon herself to tend to Amos's injured leg. Amos howled and complained as the Widow bandaged him up. "He sure is making a big fuss over a little old hurt leg," Chief said.
High on a hill, Tod and Vixey looked down on their friends, and wished them every happiness. Tod and Copper knew that they would never see one another again, but that they would always be the best of friends.