"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Day of the Hunter
I remember as a little boy having my
own heroes, like Mark has now. Oh, I laugh at Mark and his heroes
now and then, but I’ve come to realize that no matter how old you
get, those childhood
heroes are still very near and dear to your
heart. Perhaps that’s why this story shook me to the core.
You see, Mark and I were in town for supplies one day when Mr.
Hardiman walked up to talk to us. “Who’s that feller you got with ya'?”
he teased Mark.
I decided to play along. With a teasing smile, I answered, “Oh,
that’s some fella that’s been hangin’ around trying to cadge a
“Oh, sounds kinda familiar. Always hungry you say? Well, that fits!”
I continued smiling, but wasn’t sure what he was getting at. “Fits
what?” I asked.
“There’s a fella in my orchard the other day. In fact, there was
three or four of ‘em. They was…uh…eaten’ apples. That looks like one
of ‘em.” Mark suddenly got this “uh-oh” look on his face as I gave
him the “uh-oh” look. He was caught now!
“That so?” I questioned the very guilty looking Mark McCain as I
gave him a very stern look.
Mark suddenly jumped to his own defense. “We only took one each, Mr.
I didn’t take my eyes off of him, but continued my look. Mark was a
bit nervous, too!
Mr. Hardiman was laughing. “Oh Lucas! Apples is good for a boy.
Keeps the doctor away,” he tried to excuse Mark. But my boy knew
better. He knew how I felt about stealing anything – including
apples! “I ain’t gonna miss a couple apples! I got more then I can
pick or eat now.” He invited us over to his wagon to pick some out.
Mark started to climb down, but I continued looking sternly at him.
“Pa?” He asked in that voice that was laced with honey.
I tried to resist his charm and stay strong, but he was my weakness!
“Come on,” I finally permitted. He jumped off the wagon and ran
across the street. I shook my head at him as I followed. That boy!
I didn’t know it, but an old mountain man was making his way across
Mark and I thanked Mr. Hardiman. Mark threw an apple up in the air,
stating that Mr. Hardiman was nice. He could have been mean about
it! Then sternly, I ordered, “You just see you don’t take anything
ever again without asking first!”
“Oh, I won’t Pa!” Mark promised as he again threw the apple up into
Suddenly, a shot rang out as the apple that had just left Mark’s
hand suddenly exploded in mid-air. I looked around. Across the
street was an old mountain man with a big grin on his face. “Throw
up another one, boy. I’ll show you how it’s done!” the old man
I couldn’t believe that my son actually started to do it. I stopped
him. Then I turned to the old man. “Now that can be pretty dangerous
in a place like this, mister!” I stated. He told me that danger was
what made life interesting. Then he called me Lucas. “You know me?”
I was suddenly curious to know who this stranger was.
“Sure I know ya'! I heard about you! Come to see if it’s true what
Now I was even more curious! “Oh? And what do they say?”
“That you’re the best they’ve ever seen with a rifle. They been
saying that about me for years. Can’t be two of us!” He wanted me to
know that there never was anyone better then him – not even me.
“Name’s Cass Callicott.”
I whispered that name again. I knew of him! People around us began
mumbling at his name too. Mark suddenly wanted to know who he was.
“He’s a famous frontiersman, Mark. Trapper, scout, buffalo
hunter…One of the old original mountain men!”
He wanted me to have a shootout with him to see who was better. He
told me I could put up any kind of stakes I wanted “I took all kinds
of treasure in my time. Yes sir, from all sorts. Once took a cavy of
30 horses from a Blackfoot chief! Five of his fattest wives to boot!
One shot, sixty yards. Put that arrow right down the middle. Well,
Lucas. You game?”
My son was taking this all in. He was impressed with all that Cass
was saying. I didn’t believe in shooting to show who’s best, so I
declined with a friendly smile.
He tried again. I could name off the target. Again, I said a
friendly no thanks. But that made him angry. “Cold-footed boy?”
The smiled suddenly disappeared from my face. He wasn’t joking! He
was serious. Dead serious! “Scared are ya'? I’ve come a long way for
this, McCain. Prove it ain’t true what I heard.” I told him I heard
things about him too, but he didn’t have to prove anything to me.
Mark was disappointed. I noticed, but I didn’t say anything about
it. “Come on, son.” I started for the wagon.
I turned and looked at him. He winked at me. It wasn’t over yet.
Mark was quiet on the way home. The minute we got home, he went
inside and leaned against the lamp stand. I looked at him as I shut
the door. He was upset, and I had a pretty good idea what it was.
“Something on your mind, son?” I asked in a voice that told him I
already knew the answer. He nodded. “Well,” I said as I took off my
gloves. “Let’s sit down and talk it out.”
Mark came over as I sat down in my chair. He sat down beside me.
“You aren’t really scared of him, are ya'?”
“What do you think?” I asked. Mark stayed quiet as he stared at me.
He wouldn’t answer me. I could tell it was time for another one of
life’s lessons. “Mark, you don’t always have to be better then
everybody, with a rifle or anything else. As long as a man can do
what he has to when it counts. Just having people call you ‘best’
Mark thought it was to Mr. Callicott. “Is that why you didn’t want
to do it?” He asked. My turning down his contest was really
“Well, he might have beat me,” I answered.
“He might not have!” Mark said back to me.
“I wouldn’t have cared if he had.” I looked him straight in the eye.
“Maybe not too much,” Mark answered honestly. “But I think it would
have mattered to Mr. Callicott.”
I tried to explain it to mark – that he only had his reputation
left. “His world’s gone. It’s hard for a man to see everything
changing.” Mark wanted to know if the things they say about him are
true. “Well, some of them, anyway, son. He did some pretty amazing
things. Well…he got to be kind of a legend. They wrote stories about
him in magazines and dime novels. And maybe those writers stretched
the truth a little. And I guess Cass believes…well, he believes too
many of those stories.” That made me think of my own childhood. I
told Mark that a lot of boys thought he was a hero.
Mark smiled and asked if I was one of those boys. I only smiled.
“That why you didn’t want to beat him?” He came back to that – that
I had turned him down!
I suddenly reminded him he had some chores to do.
Later, Mark was feeding the chickens when he suddenly heard the
sound of a rattler. He looked around, expecting to find a snake
nearby, but Cass suddenly jumped out at him, scaring him half to
death! “Say, you’d sure be Ute stew in the mountains! Eh, they’d
curl you first thing. Fella had to be lookin’ an’ listenin’ an’
smellin’ all the time or he was belly up! That one time you was
lollygagging there, the time my Ute would have put his arrow clean
through your throat.”
Mark asked him if that was him rattling. “Scared ya', huh? That’ll
teach ya' to be alive! Look sharp!” Of course, Mark was all ears
now. Cass’s talk fascinated the boy and he wanted to know where that
rattler was. “Comanche fetish!” Cass answered. “Made from the button
of a big ol’ rattler.” He continued telling Mark he had gotten it
off of a one-eyed medicine man. Boy, you should have seen Mark’s
eyes! He sure was excited! Cass told him some story about how you
just shake the rattler at a man and a big ol’ rattler comes along
and bites the man. “Works too. I done it myself a few times!”
Mark was falling for it hook, line, and sinker. Cass shook it at
Mark and Mark fearfully took a couple steps back. “Oh no, you got to
know them right words ‘fore it works!” He gave it to Mark, and he
wanted to know what the right words were. Cass told him he’d tell
him sometime when he could be trusted.
Cass looked at our chickens running around the farm and began
hinting that he was hungry. Mark took liberty on himself to invite
Cass to stay for supper. Cass asked if we were thinking on having
chicken for supper. Mark said I hadn’t mentioned what was for
supper, but he figured chicken would be fine. Cass suddenly caught
one of my chickens and started to pull the feathers right there.
Mark just looked at him uncomfortably, and Cass told him he didn’t
fit to well in this civilization!
“See anytime I was hungry I had to think quick and hard when the
I let him stay for supper since Mark so kindly invited him, but I
wasn’t to pleased about it. And I didn’t rightly care for the
impression he was putting on my son! It would take me a month of
Sunday’s to clear all those wild stories out of my son’s young
brain! But I sat at the table quietly while he ate all our food and
talked nonstop to my impressionable, young boy.
In fact, he was telling another wild story right now! “I’ll tell ya',
when that big ol’ grizzly come waddlin’ out of that cave, them Utes
took off like they sudden scold in water! Never was seen again! They
didn’t know it was me! I had powerful medicine changed me into a
bear!” Cass had a whole gob of chicken in his hands he was flapping
around when he was talking and eating loudly and quite rudely!
Mark announced to Cass that we had a whole family of black bears up
the mountain with three cubs. “That ‘minds me of that grizzly near
took my ear of once. See?” He pointed to his ear as he continued
waving his chicken around disgustingly. “Show you the other scar
sometime! Near tore me in half. Thought I was trying to steal her
cubs! I near bled to death till I crawled 200 miles through Comanche
Country to a settlement.”
I must say that all his wild stories were really getting to me,
especially since I had heard that story from somewhere else – it had
happened to Daniel Boone. “That so? Same thing happen to him,
Lucas?” Cass asked as he gnawed on the chicken bone. He suddenly
asked if there was anymore bird, but he had eaten it all up! He
explained that a man had to fill himself up when the chance came, he
never knew when the next meal was going to come along.
I suddenly suggested that maybe now he would like to talk. He stated
that he had been! Oh boy, had he ever! “You didn’t come out here
just to spin yarns for Mark and me.”
“You know what I come for,” Cass answered me as he sit something on
his plate with a challenging look in his eye. I stared at it as Mark
asked what it was. “Indian challenge,” I answered in an annoyed
“Ehhhh….ain’t that bright! Bright!” Cass stated excitedly. “Man give
his arrow with a bit of medicine string tied to it; means a
challenge. One you got to take.”
I was curious to know what the challenge was, though I had no
intention on taking it. He wanted me and him to go up on the
mountain with twenty bullets each. Then we’d see who came home with
the most meat. “Now, I ask you Mark. Ain’t that a fair test for a
rifleman?” Cass asked my son who was suddenly very excited about
that challenge Cass was proposing.
“Well, I guess so,” Mark answered as he looked hopefully at me.
He told me I could use my “fancy new repeatin’ rifle” of mine and
he’d still beat me reloaded and all. “You think that’s a good way to
prove who’s best?”
“Best hunter, maybe,” I stated. “But there’d still be a lot of
luck,” I answered.
“You think of a better test? Won’t agree to a stand up shoot-out. I
talked to your Marshal and said that…”
That was enough! “I’ve already told you, Cass. I’m not going to test
myself against you!” I stated angrily.
“He said you could shoot. Shoulda told me you was a coward.” He
tried to rile me into a shooting match. But I told him I wasn’t
“And besides that, I’m not into the wholesale of killing animals.
There just isn’t enough game around here anymore. And we’ve agreed
among ourselves to conserve what’s left, use only what we need,” I
explained. He resented me for that too.
“In my day, a man lived free! Took what he wanted and did what he
wanted anytime he wanted with no one to say nay!” Cass told me
Mark was listening intently to the conversation. I hoped he was
understanding my position. I shook my head at Cass. “Yeah I know!” I
told him angrily. “You slaughtered millions of buffalos just for the
hides and the tongues and left the rest to rot on the Plains while
the Indians wept ‘cause they knew you weren’t just killing buffalo
but a whole way of life – yours and theirs. And now you’re unhappy
that it’s gone!” I was getting angry and bitter. My childhood image
was being destroyed as the realization hit me. “It’s a different
world now. There’s a lot more people. We don’t have to kill to live.
We do have to get along.”
Cass stated that he was glad he wasn’t part of our new ways.
“There’s still places a man can live free and I’m headin’ back up
there just as soon as I finish this.” I just looked at him. He was
finished as far as I was concerned. He looked down at the arrow on
his plate. “You gonna take that challenge or be called a coward?” He
spit these words out at me. Mark sat beside me listening to every
word and turned to me with anticipation. His eyes were filled with
hopefulness as he waited for my answer.
But I wasn’t going to give in to Cass’s selfish demands or try to
impress my son with my skills. There was a principle here that Mark
had to learn to accept. So I answered quietly and firmly, “Be called
That was that. Cass picked up his arrowhead. He knew that was my
final answer. I looked at Mark. He was disappointed at me. But he
would just have to live with that disappointment.
Mark continued talking to him while I fetched his horses. “Something
I come for, I usually get, McCain, one way or t’other.” I told him
he was wasting his time, but he told me I was going to fight him.
I warned him not to cause any trouble – especially with the boy. He
didn’t want to mess with me where my son was concerned! “My advice
to you is to move on, back to where a man can still be free.”
“Not till I’ve done what I come for, McCain,” Cass answered. Then he
mounted his horse and rode off.
My disappointed son suddenly observed that I didn’t like him. “It’s
not that exactly,” I tried to explain. “It’s just that when a man
has lived like a savage for so long, well, he’s almost salvage. He’s
not like ordinary men. He acts differently and he thinks
differently.” I told Mark he had to be careful with a man like that
– especially when you don’t really know him.”
The next day I had to go to a town meeting. I told Mark I’d be home
around 4, and to make sure he had the yard cleaned up by then. That
was the only thing he had to do the whole time I was gone, and I
expected it to be done!
Mark watched me leave. And so did Cass. He was getting tired of
challenging me, and decided to take a different approach – one he
was sure would work. So as while I was still riding through our
range, Cass came up to Mark. He pretended to not be aware that I was
gone, and forgetting all about the town council meeting I had to
attend (he probably had checked around town and known I would be
gone). He had come to ask Mark a favor. He wanted Mark to take him
up to see those black bears. My son was so impressed with this old
man because he was different and lived an imaginative life. But when
he discovered Cass wanted him to right now, he wasn’t sure that was
a good idea. After all, I had given him a chore to do and he
couldn’t tell me where he was going – two very good reasons for him
to do the right thing. Besides that, he should have known I wouldn’t
have approved in him going.
“I’ll fix it with your Pa! It’ll be just fine with him,” Cass
assured him. ’Sides, we’ll be back before he is probably. Don’t ya'
want to do a favor for ol’ Cass? You know, you promised and all!”
Cass kept talking to Mark to mix up the thinking in his head and
convince him to come with him.”
It worked. “Well, I guess it’ll be alright. Pa didn’t say I had to
stay home,” Mark answered. Kids knew how to twist our words to make
them satisfy them, and that’s the truth!
Cass was suddenly excited. He even told Mark he could ride his mule.
He pushed Mark out the door, then put the Indian Challenge on the
table right inside the door so I would see it when I got home and
coming running to save my boy!
I rode into town. Micah started in on me right away about having a
shooting match with Cass. I told him I turned Cass down. There were
lots of folks surprised I didn’t accept my challenge. I reckon I was
the talk of the town. “Including my son,” I said a bit disappointed
that my own son didn’t know me better then that! Micah was afraid he
wouldn’t take no for an answer. “There’s something tormenting him,”
I stated. Micah told me to be careful. He didn’t have to tell me
Mark was enjoying their ride into the woods together. He mentioned
that I had taught him a lot about the woods. But he figure Cass
could teach him just as much, seeing as how he had lived in them his
whole life. But Cass stated he’d soon be moving on. Mark asked when
and he said “Depends.”
“Oh, well it’s just a little ways farther,” Mark stated. “We might
see them anytime now.” Cass had been distracted and asked him what
he was talking about. “Well, the bears, of course!” Mark answered.
“Oh them,” Cass said absently. “I forgot all about them!”
That startled Mark a little bit. “But…that’s why we came out here!”
“Nevermind. You got nothin’ around here to compare with grizzly’s
anyway,” Cass suddenly stated.
That really startled Mark. Then Cass told him to mosey on over
there, and he pointed in the direction. Mark wasn’t sure what was
going on and asked why. “Cause I said so, that’s enough!” Cass
“Come here boy. I’ll show you somethin’ bout trail watchin’,” Cass
ordered. He wanted Mark to sit down beside him and look at the
trail. Mark was not stupid, though, and knew something was up. He
was suddenly very uncomfortable being there and stated he wanted to
go home. “I’ll take care of your Pa,” Cass stated as he laid a hand
on Mark’s arm.
Mark was sorry he ever put himself in a situation like this. He felt
something when Cass touched his arm. He knew something was terribly
wrong, and he tried to leave. “Well, you can stay if you want, but
I’m going home!” he insisted as he started to leave. Cass suddenly
grabbed him by the jacket roughly and ordered him in a mean voice to
My boy was scared. He felt like his life was in danger.
I rode home after the meeting. I hollered for Mark a few times, but
he never came. I noticed the yard wasn’t cleaned. As I got off my
horse and tied him to the post, I noticed the front door was open.
Something was wrong. He hadn’t cleaned the yard and things were very
quiet. I just had this feeling. I hurried inside and hollered for
Mark. Where could that boy be, I wondered. But as I stood around the
living room looking for a clue, I suddenly started it. My eyes grew
big and I rushed over to pick it up.
That’s when I knew he had been there. He’d taken my son to force me
into a challenge! I walked out the door slowly as I thought about
what to do. I looked down into the dirt to pick up their tracks.
Then I went up the mountain to get my boy back!
Cass was getting impatient. Mark played with the rattler Cass had
given him and Cass knocked it out of his hand annoyingly. Mark
reminded him that he was going to tell him the words. “Figurin’ on
killing someone?” he asked. “Ain’t no words you’d understand anyhow.
It’s a bunch of poppycock!”
Mark wasn’t sure what was going on. He suddenly stated he wanted to
go home…again…and tried to get up and leave. But again Cass grabbed
him and told him he was staying right there. When Mark asked why,
Cass finally revealed the real reason. “For you Pa to come lookin’
for ya' so’s we can have that there shootin’ match. Only a real one
this time. The kind they don’t have much of anymore. For big game.”
Mark then found out what kind: men.
Mark stared at him as he allowed this to sink in. That’s when he
knew he had to get away. He tried to escape, but Cass grabbed him
and went to fix him so he couldn’t try to escape anymore.
Cass had left a good trail for me to follow. He wanted me to find
him. I made my way up the mountain as he sat there and watched me.
He had tied my boy’s hands up and wrapped the rope around a tree.
Mark tried and tried to get free, but he couldn’t. I got closer and
closer to Cass.
Suddenly, Mark heard my horse and saw me. “Look out, Pa!” Mark
suddenly screamed. “He’s gonna kill ya' Pa!”
I suddenly jumped off my horse and hid on a hill. “Don’t worry about
the boy, Lucas! I’ll let him go soon as we settle it!” Cass
promised. I suddenly saw him. And I saw my son tied to a tree,
struggling to get free.
I knew my first order of business: To get my boy free and out of
danger. I knew myself well enough to know that I could shoot the
rope and set him free. I carefully aimed well above his hands and
fired. Mark fell to the ground and immediately started running
towards me. “Stay low, Mark!” I ordered. “Stay low!” I wouldn’t put
it past Cass not to hurt him. Until he was safe by my side, I
wouldn’t feel comfortable. He was suddenly there. I reached out and
grabbed him. “Are you alright, son?” I was happy to be hold my son
I put him behind me so he’d be safe from gunfire. “Alright, the
boy’s with you!” Cass said. “You got no excuse now, McCain!”
But I told him I wasn’t going to shoot – that’s what he wanted. “I
guess you don’t understand!” Cass suddenly stated. “It’s either kill
I suddenly looked down at Mark. This man was crazy! I would kill him
before he took a shot at me! I suddenly wished Mark wasn’t here to
watch this. I tired for a peaceful end again. “I’ve got no reason to
kill you, nor you me!”
Suddenly, he stood up so I’d have a clear target. He yelled for me
to use my rifle. “You got eight shots, I only got one. It’s alright
with me. Just show yourself, I’ll take my chances!” He continued
shouting. He started walking forward.
I couldn’t believe this! I shook my head sadly knowing it may come
down to me shooting him. Mark watched on worriedly, wondering what I
was going to do. I knew it wasn’t going to end well, no matter what.
I was at a loss for a solution to this problem! The last thing I
wanted to do is shoot someone who I saw as a hero as a small boy.
He continued walking forward and yelling, telling me I had more than
an even chance to kill him. I had to play his game.
But suddenly, I found myself trying to save his life. The black bear
that Mark had told him about suddenly appeared – angry! She
surprised Cass and attacked him. Cass screamed. She hit him a few
times before my shock wore off and I was able to fire. I fired
several rounds into that bear. Mark and I both had a sick feeling as
we saw what laid before us. “Stay here,” I told Mark as I stared
I didn’t want to see it. My childhood memories flooded back as I
took those steps toward my hero. My shots were too late. He was
dead. I suddenly felt very sick at the image that met my face. It
I laid Cass’s body over his mule and tied him down. Mark rode Cass’s
saddled horse as he dragged the mule behind him. He was visibly
upset, as was I. “Why did he want to kill you, Pa?” Mark suddenly
I though on this. “Well, it wasn’t exactly me son,” I answered. “It
was the whole world he hated. A world that had passed him by. A
world he couldn’t be a hero in.”
Mark agreed. “Well I guess so. But he was a hero once,” Mark
I knew he was – he was my hero! And that’s how we should try to
remember him! I knew a boy’s hero was a lot of times only in his
mind. And though the bear took Cass away, I’d always have my hero!
Anderson appeared in eleven episodes ―
Shotgun Man as John Beaumont, he was the man that wanted
revenge on Lucas for sending him to jail ― Shivaree as Chet
Packard, he was the one who Derek shot in the leg ― The Hawk as
Ely Flack, he was the man who was looking for Walt Hake/Reed Young ―
The Journey Back as Will Temple, he was the man who had the
scare on his face ― Day of the Hunter as Cass Callicott, the
famous frontiersman, trapper, scout, buffalo hunter, one of the old
original mountain men ― Mail Order Groom as Jess Profit, he
was who slapped Isabel across the face ― The Retired Gun as
Owny, he was the one who threw the coin on the ground ― Face of
Yesterday as Hank Clay, the mean step-father ― Incident at
Line Shack Six as Gangling, he was the one who killed Charley
Breen ― The Patsy as Sully Hobbs ― Old Man Running
aka The Wanted Man as Samuel Gibbs, Mark's Grandpa, Lucas'
We saw him so much on The Rifleman that you would have
thought of him as part of the family. Come to think of it, he was
part of the family. Do you remember which episode that was?
Dick Elliott played Hardiman, he
was the man who gave Lucas & Mark the apples.
Earl Spainard was in ten episodes ―
Day of the Hunter
as one of the townsmen ― Silent
Knife as a barfly ― The Assault as one of the townsmen -
Friend in Need as Harry the Bartender - Two Ounces of Tin
as one of the townsmen ― Outlaw Shoes as one of the
townsmen ― Guilty
Conscience as one of the townsmen, you can also see Earl in the
bar in Stud City ― Short Rope for a Tall Man as one of the
townsmen ― The Spoiler as one of the townsmen ―
None So Blind
as one of the townsman.
Taylor Curtis 'Cactus Mack' McPeters
a Townsman in
Day of the Hunter
was a well known and respected stuntman, he appeared in twenty-seven
episodes of The Rifleman and still counting. Whitey
had over a 50-year career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator, he
has been praised as one of the top stuntman in Hollywood.
Whitey was the best of the best!
Cap Somers/Frederick "Cap / Fimp" Somers appeared in
episodes of The Rifleman ―
Day of the Hunter
as one of the townsmen ― The Deserter
as a card player ― The Vision
as a cowhand ― Woman
from Hog Ridge as a townsmen ― The Martinet as one of the townsmen
― The Decision as one of the townsmen ―
Which Way'd They Go
as the bartender ― The Anvil Chorus as one
of the townsmen.
appeared in a total of eight episodes, seven episodes as a Townsman and one as
Day of the Hunter ―
A Case of Identity ― The Fourflusher ―
The Promoter ― Miss
Bertie as a barfly ― The Wyoming Story ― Face of
Yesterday - Anvil Chorus.
Brandon Beach as a Townsman in Day of the
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index
Have you ever been watching TV or a
movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
around The McCain Ranch