The movie opens with small time rancher Owen Merritt (Scott) drinking in a bar, where everyone is toasting the upcoming wedding of the Will Isham, the owner of the Rancho Skull spread. Owen is drinking because it is his former girlfriend Laurie getting married to Isham.
Owen sneaks up to talk to Laurie to see if she is sure. Laurie says she is, and Own wishes her luck. Laurie doesn't seem to love Isham, but she wants the better things in life. Laurie is embarrassed by her father and sends him back home. She tells him she will send him money but he must stay away.
Isham buys some more land and now his spread borders Owen's. Some of his men start a stampede of Owen's herd. One of Owen's men, George, chase a stampeder into town, and Owen follows him. In the bar the lights go out and the shootout begins. The Rancho Skull crowd rides off, but one is left dead.
Laurie tells Owen that she is not happy with her husband, and she will run away with Owen. Owen then finds that his ranch hand George has been shot and killed. owen goes over to Skull and starts shooting stuff up. Owen then gets in a gunfight with Isham's hired gun men but he gets out alive.
The local school teacher, Nan, comes over to help Owen out. She asks him why he went back to his place. Owen said: " I got to thinking, man can't run all the time. Has to fight sooner or later." And that sounds like a quote from one of the Ranown Cycle movies!
Hugh Clagg (John Russell) is in love with Nan, and is crazy with jealous when he finds out Nam took care of Owen. he knows she is in love with him. Hugh tracks them down to an old cabin Nan's dad had. He is crazy and ready to shoot them, but Owen disarms him and the fistfight is on. Hugh eventually gets away and then tells Isham where he is. Isham shoots and kills Hugh when he thinks Hugh was talking about his wife, but Hugh was talking about Nan.
Owen confronts Isham. He tells him to sell Skull and go away so he won't be prosecuted for Hugh's death. Laurie says she will go with him, she made a bargain. Isham grees. As they walk down the steps. Isham's gunmen Fay Dutcher shoots at Owen, but Isham gets in the way and gets shot down.
Dutcher and Owen get in a shootout, and Owen eventually shoots him down.
Owen ends up with Nan and Laurie gets Skull ranch.
Unlike the Ranown series, the hero here gets the girl and all ends happily ever.