Twenty-eight year old Cotton Pickens wasn’t looking for much other than a warm meal when he came to the Wyoming town of Doubtful. But when a shootout with some gamblers shows off his skills with a gun, the residents elect him as sheriff overnight. After accepting the position, Cotton comes face-to-face with a few members of Circle led by Big Mike Romain–the gang who roped and dragged the last lawman of Doubtful. Cotton provokes the gang by unhitching the saddle of Rusty and making him drop to the ground, and after a short stand-off, ends up with Rusty as his new deputy. The new deputy informs Cotton of a war brewing amid “The Big Three”: Rockinghorse, Circle L and Quartermoon, a trio of ranches that nearly own a million acres between theM … and how only he and Cotton stand against them.
Cotton comes face to face with the range war when nightriders from Circle L attack a farm one night. Crops are destroyed, the house burned down, the husband killed and one of the daughters is raped and murdered. Soon the news spreads that Circle L has hired Jack Crow, a Mississippian gunslinger with a nasty reputation. And this worries Cotton. He cooks up a plan to help control the coming war in Doubtful: new laws banning gunfire and horse riding in town. He also seeks help from any ranch riders who don’t want blood on their hands. But will any of his efforts pay off, or will he become one of the causalities of the loudening ranch war?