Old Mike Varney is a callous, bad-tempered ranch owner of the Pitchfork Ranch, located near the Nevada Mesa during the second half of the 19th century. Bill Varney, his 23-year-old son, is often mistreated by his father; he is thinking about leaving the ranch and starting over somewhere else. His sister, Vida, and his girlfriend, Marian Tracy, try to keep him from leaving. Several of the local citizens and ranchers, tired of Mike Varney' s ruthless behavior and the fear of the old man's plans to buy up the local ranches, pay a gunslinger named Ace Kehoe to gun him down. Vida tries to convince Bill to meet the gunman and kill him before he tries to kill their father.