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In 1932, in the drought-scorched mountains of Utah, Tom Eggers tracks a cougar which has killed a number of cattle belonging to nearby ranchers. Suddenly, Tom comes upon Danny Turner, a Philadelphian trying to reach the cabin where his uncle, Gil Hawks, lives with his sons Wid and Jim. Tom directs Danny toward the cabin, but when Danny arrives, Gil, Wid and Jim, who recognize him, are rude to him and refuse to take him in. Before long, mail carrier Matt Cooper arrives in his wagon and offers to give Danny a lift to another cabin, which Danny says belongs to a friend of his recently deceased mother. After a few miles, Matt learns that Danny's mother was Lucy Hawks, and his manner immediately and inexplicably changes. He demands that Danny get out of the wagon, forcing him to walk the rest of the way to the cabin. Soon after, Tom arrives and is surprised to find Danny waiting on his front step. Danny then realizes that Tom is his mother's friend and apologizes for his apparently unexpected arrival, explaining that he sent a telegram to announce his visit. Tom finds the telegram among the day's delivery, and, after reading it, inquires about Danny's mother. Danny sadly breaks the news of her death, saying that he wanted to visit her birthplace. The next day, after a church service in which the worshippers pray for rain, Gil, who has had a change of heart, invites Danny to come to his cabin. Danny is unforgiving, however, and refuses the invitation. He then returns home with Tom, who reveals that Lucy ran away to Philadelphia after Gil refused to allowed her to marry Tom. Later, Gil and his sons tell Tom that the cougar has killed one of their best mares. After Gil offers him $150 to kill the cougar, Tom asks Danny to fetch his rifle. When Danny returns with a small .22 caliber rifle, instead of the more appropriate 30-30 caliber variety, Wid and Jim howl with laughter. Later, Danny and Tom hunt for the cougar, but shoot a deer instead. They take it home, and after Tom hangs the carcass outside to drain, the hungry cougar approaches. When Tom again asks Danny to get his rifle, Danny realizes that they left it on the ground where the deer had fallen. In a desperate attempt to save Tom, Danny begins shooting at the cougar with the inadequate .22. After the cougar kills Tom, Danny follows the animal back to its den. Gil sees Danny and decides to track him with his dog, Spike. Inside the den, the cougar readies to attack, but Spike bravely fights the huge cat, allowing Danny an opportunity to shoot it at close range. For killing the cougar Danny receives his reward from Gil, and some time later, moves into Tom's cabin, which Tom left to him in his will. Later, the whole town celebrates the end of the drought as the first few drops of rain begin to fall.