"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
End of the Hunt
When I woke up to find Mark not in his bed, I dressed and went looking for him. I didn’t have to look far – he was sitting at the kitchen table, proudly shining his rifle. "What are you doing up in the middle of the night?" I asked in a tired voice.
"It's morning Pa...it's easy to be up doin' it if you’re not out gallivanting around to all hours, " Mark answered me cheerfully.
"It's not every night there's a barn dance," I said. I asked Mark what time it was. He said it was four o'clock. I wonder why he was up so early, even at five o'clock it would take a good poke of the spur to get him up. I poured myself a cup of coffee. “What makes you so bushy tailed today?” I yawned.
“I’m just…cleaning my rifle.”
“Yeah, even from here, I can see you got too much oil on that sight. You’ll get a glare.”
"Pa...you were out so late and all last night I didn't get a chance to tell ya.”
"What?" I asked.
"Old Spike's back!"
"Old Spike, that eight point buck I was telling you about." I did remember him. He usually turned up about this time every year. As I sat down, the barrel of Mark’s rifle was pointed at me. I pushed it out of the way. That always made me nervous!
"I saw a spore in the creek. Well, he really sunk in. I bet he dresses out about one hundred and forty pounds!" You could hear the obsession in Marks voice and see it in his expressions. I asked Mark if he was going to shoot him with his .22. "Yep!" He said he figured he could get about 50...maybe 75 feet from old Spike.
“You think he’ll let you get that close?” I asked him.
“He’ll let me, alright!” Mark declared. “Year before last, I was tracking him just for practice. Well he…doubled back on me, chased me up a tree. But I didn’t have my rifle then. This year it’s gonna be different!“
I was so tired! I told Mark I was going back to bed. “Good luck with your hunting.”
I started back toward the bedroom. Mark just kept talking. "For four years now he's been coming strutting around in these hills...he looks down on me and snorts...almost as if to say...go home kid...send your Pa out and I'll take him on. That son-of-a-gun has been insulting me for too long!”
"Insulting you?" I asked.
"Just by being alive! He's just such a smart elic, he gets in my craw. You've never seem him because he's afraid of you...he respects you! But this year it's gonna be different! I've got my rifle now." I watched as Mark aimed his rifle, feeling pretty sure of himself. "I'm going to get him in my sights...line him up...pull the trigger...and he's gonna come down."
On that note, I went back to bed!
When I got up Mark had already left to go hunting, so I thought I'd head into town. The first stop I made was at Lou's. Lou was in the lobby of her hotel tending to her flowers. I asked her if she was still upset with me for the night before. "And why would I be angry with the likes of you?" Lou asked in a voice that told me she was indeed upset with me.
“Well, you gave a good indication of it last night.”
"You must have danced with every girl there!" she exclaimed. I brushed off her statement. She asked if I had breakfast. I told her I had just had coffee – Mark had made it at four o'clock this morning. She was just as surprised as I was. I told her he wanted to get his chores done so he could go hunting. "Ah...the new rifle. Guess he wants to prove how good, he is.”
“Yeah, he’s trying to prove something alright.”
“By the way, if you haven’t seen the Marshal, it might be a good idea!” Lou warned me. “He’s the one who’s upset!” I didn’t know why. “Don’t you remember?”
“Oh, the bullfrog in his shirt last night?” Lou nodded. "I didn't do that Lou - Nils did." She said that Micah's dignity has been ruffed so it would be hard to convince Micah that I had nothing to do with it. I thought I'd just take a walk over to Micah's office and needle him a bit about it.
I didn’t know it, but Micah was watching at the door, waiting for me to come see him. He hurried inside. When I got there, he was in a cell hanging something on the wall. “Well, good morning, Marshal,” I greeted him as I sat my rifle down by the door. I told Micah it was quite a party last night. He did seem a bit upset with me still. “You really that upset over an old bullfrog? You should have seen yourself last night – hopping around like a cat with his foot in a paper bag.
He was hanging something in the cell and asked if I would come and hold it while he got a hammer. I went into the cell to oblige him when he locked the cell door behind me. I was a little surprised. This was a little extreme. “Well, you must really think I did it!” I thought this was part of the gag for the bullfrog. "Is putting a bullfrog down a marshal's back a misdemeanor or a felony?"
He said neither and he knew I didn't put the bullfrog down his shirt. He then made a statement that totally surprised me and put an end to all the joking – because his statement was no joking matter. "Reef Jackson’s was in town!" I immediately lost my smile.
I walked up to the front of the cell and stared at Micah. "How do you know?" I asked.
"I know and I know just how you feel about him," said Micah. "I've gotta keep you here Lucas until I find Jackson and get him out of town."
"Give me those keys Micah!" Micah shook his head. I suddenly reached for the keys through the cell bar, but Micah was too quick. He told me he was sorry and walked away. Rage filled my body. “Micah, come back here!” I screamed angrily. But he hurried out. I kept screaming for him to come back, but he didn’t listen. He left, closing the door firmly behind him. You should have seen the rage in my eyes!
I was angry! I picked up a stool and crashed it against the bars.
Meanwhile, Mark was riding, looking for his deer.
Like I said, I was really mad. I had to figure a way to get out of here. Suddenly I heard Lou call to Micah. "Micah..Micah...did you and Lucas make…” Lou stopped when she saw me in the cell. “Make up?" She thought it was funny seeing me locked up in jail. "I can see that you didn't.” Lou walked over to me. “Well I must say you’re not being a very good sport about it! After all you and Nils had your fun last night..the least you can do is let Micah have his today."
"Yeah!" I said angrily. Suddenly it dawned on me; this is my way out of here. "Yeah, Lou...I guess you’re right. I have an idea how you and I can switch this joke on Micah."
"You get the keys for me out of his drawer and let me out. He'll have a fit when he finds me gone,” I said. I tried to keep the joking alive, but it was hard when I was so full of rage.
"I don't know if I should or not...the way you were dancing with those girls last night." said Lou.
“Come on, Lou…” I half-laughed.
Lou turned and started over to Micah’s desk. I turned, hoping she’d fall for my trick.
I told her to hurry with it. "Micah will never trust this jail again until he finds out how you got out of here."
"That's the joke!" I said. With my tone and the way I was acting, Lou knew there was something wrong. As I picked up my rifle, she asked me what was wrong. But I ignored her question with one of my own. I asked her if anybody had checked into her hotel this morning. She said no one had and mentioned Micah had asked her the same thing. She asked me who I was looking for. I told her to ask Micah as I left his office with my rifle in hand.
Nils was happy as he worked. He told me I was up early, considering what time I got home last night. I didn’t have any time for joking and got right down to the heart of the matter. I wanted to know if anyone rode into town this morning. He got sarcastic with me and said we all rode in. “I mean strangers, Nils!” Nils could tell I was looking for somebody special. “I’m looking for Reef Jackson.”
He looked at me. “Oh, you had the same look of hate on your face the first time you told me about him. What makes you think Reef’s in town?”
“Lucas, I don’t blame you for what you’re planning to do, but if you go through with it, you may regret it,” Nils warned. He told me to leave my rifle with him until I cooled off.
“Did you see Jackson?” I asked in a controlled voice. He said no. I turned and walked out.
Meanwhile, Mark was still out tracking Ol’ Spike. He came upon Spike’s footprints and knew he was getting closer.
Micah was surprised to see I was gone when he got back to his office. He went over to the hotel to see if Lou knew anything. He asked her if she had seen me. She said she had when I first came into town. He asked her if she’d seen me since then. She could tell Micah was worried. “Is something wrong?” Lou still thought that we were joking over the bullfrog. This had nothing to do with that. “Then why was Lucas in jail?”
“There’s a man named Reef Jackson in town,” Micah stated. “Lucas hates him more than anybody in the whole world and with just cause. If he finds him before I do, he’ll kill him in cold blood and I wouldn’t condemn him for it, but uh…the jury might not feel the same way about it.”
Lou felt guilty. She admitted that she had seen me. In fact, she’d turned me lose. Micah got mad and started to leave. She ran after him, trying to explain that she thought it was just another joke. “It’s no joke, Lou!” Micah agreed
He went to his office and Lou followed him. She saw Micah take a shotgun out of the rack. She asked him what he was going to do with the shotgun. He said he hoped nothing. He told Lou about an unsigned telegram that came addressed to me last night. It stated that Reef would be here in North Fork today. “I’m going to go look for Lucas. And I hope I don’t hear a rifle shot before I find him.”
I rode out to Granny Mede's looking for Reef. Reef was Granny's nephew. I knew them from when I lived in the Nations. Granny was sitting on the porch knitting. When I approached the porch Granny said "Hello Lucas," never looking up.
"Granny you can't even see the back side of your own spectacles, how did you know it was me?"
"I can hear a fly cat walking across a swatch of velvet and tell whether it's a bluebottle or a horse." She kept knitting. "My nephew ain't here.”
“What makes you think I’m looking for Reef?” She knew that was the only reason why I ever stopped by. She said she hadn't see him. “I heard he was in town.”
“That’s more than I heard.” She looked up at me. “You still fixin’ to kill him?” I just looked at her. "Bloods thicker then beet juice Lucas. But I don't hold with that boy! I don’t hold with you either." She remembered back in Oklahoma Territory when the Devil was on both of us. One morning while we were digging an irrigation ditch, he put down our shovels and started fighting. Then we picked them up and went right back to working.
“I remember a different time.”
She went back to her knitting. “From what I hear, I can understand you wanting to put Reef under. But I haven’t heard Reef’s side of the story yet. For the past ten years, he’s been too busy running.”
If he had a side, why was he running? "Maybe he doesn't wanna hafta kill you Lucas." I asked her if he would happen to be in the barn. She was upset because I thought shemight be lying. “Like you said, Granny…Blood’s thicker then beet juice.” She told me to go ahead and take a look.
I walked to the barn, prepared to fire if I found him. All was quiet when I walked in, but then I heard a noise. The only thing that was in there was a barn owl. "People like me…the less we have, the prouder we are at what we got. I ain't got two quarters to rub together, but at least I always got took at my word...up to now. Now I reckon I ain't got that neither."
"Granny my mistrust doesn't make you any less a fine woman...but when it comes to Reef Jackson I wouldn't trust a preacher when he said Amen." I asked her if she would let me know when Reef turned up. She just looked at me. I slowly walked away and headed back into town.
I thought I'd check back at the hotel and see if anybody new has registered yet. I rang the bell. Lou took a little too long to get there for my satisfaction. I reached under the desk and grabbed the register. Lou told me nobody new had registered, but I had to check for myself. I looked anyway. Lou was upset because I didn't believe her. This Reef Jackson thing was consuming me. I didn't trust no one, not even Lou or Micah, my best friends. "Letting you out of jail was no joke...was it?"
"Did Micah laugh?" I asked.
"No!" said Lou.
"Then I guess it wasn't,” I answered angrily.
"Why do you have to kill Reef Jackson?"
Her question surprised me. I lifted my head and glared at her. "Did Micah tell you that too?"
"Only that you had to, not why," said Lou.
I slammed the guestbook shut. "Alright Lou...I'll tell you why! Reef Jackson, my best friend once shot me in the back, left me to die and tried to steal my wife. That's right! He put a slug in my back and hatred in my heart! You want the details? No I didn't think so!" Lou was shocked as I turned and started to walk out of the hotel.
"Lucas McCain! You don't own yourself!" Her words stopped me. "You belong to Mark...and maybe just a little to me. And I don't want to see you dead by Reef Jackson's bullet or the end of a rope if you kill him!" Her voice softened. "There's a saying in the old country...hate is like lightening...blue, white and then it's bright red like fire, don't let it consume you." I didn’t know what to say.
Just then a boy came to the door of the hotel. "Mr. McCain...Granny Mede says it's time for you to come." I thanked him and turned to look at Lou. I headed for Granny Med's place to face Reef.
By then it was dark. Granny Mede was still setting on the porch knitting. I walked up to the porch and stood there. “He’s down in the barn. Got in about a half hour ago.” I started to go. "Lucas...he told me his side of the story."
I slowly walked toward the barn, switching my rifle back and forth from hand to hand. The barn door was wide open. When I got there, I stood in the doorway. Inside, I saw a man in the shadows smoking a cigar. I walked inside and twirled my rifle. I aimed it at him, but didn’t say a word.
"Lucas...changed haven't ya' Lucas? The McCain I knew would have pulled that trigger and been cleaning the rifle by now. I heard you've been waitin' for this moment for years. Well...here I am. Let's get at it." We stood there in the dark looking at each other. I didn’t make a move to shoot him though. “I'll make it easy for you as it was for me." He then turned and had his back towards me. "Well.....aren't you gonna shoot?"
"I wouldn't shoot a pig in the back."
"No I guess you wouldn't. Lucas you may not believe this, but when Margaret died I lost as much as you did. Except I never had her." That made me angry, but I didn’t make a move. “Alright, you’ve been looking for me, you found me. So let’s get the shooting over with before it’s too late, we wake up the people.” I just stood there and stared at him. He yelled and told me to get on with the shooting. But I didn't. “You want to get a better look? You want to see what ten years of running and jumping at shadows will do?”
Suddenly, he came out of the shadows. I stared in shock at what I was seeing. Before me I saw an aged, broken man. He was no longer the strong, good-looking man I remembered. He was broken…aged…old…Killing him would not benefit me a bit.
“Remember how I was, Lucas? Strong as you…ten pounds heavier and a year younger. What’s happened to me? Why am I like this? And you’re still like that? I’m not a man anymore!” He cried. “I’m just a barrel of pain and fear and I want to die. You’ve got every reason in the world to use that rifle.” Do it!” I just shook my head. I was in such shock at what I was looking at. He got down on his hands and knees in front of me. “Lucas, you’ve gotta do it!”
"I'm sorry Reef...I can't help you!" I turned and walked away.
As I walked away I could hear Reef crying as he called to me. "Lucas...Come back, come back!"
I slowly walked back to the porch where Granny Mede sat. “You knew I couldn't kill him, didn't you Granny?" She didn't answer me. She looked at me silently, then she just continued knitting as I walked away. It was time to go home. Finally all the torment was gone.
When I got home, Mark was setting by the fireplace with his thoughts somewhere else. He held his rifle in his hand. He asked me if I was hungry, but I just wanted to go to bed.
“That eight-point buck get away from you?" I asked.
"No, I found him.”
"Couldn't you get close enough?" I asked.
"I got within fifty feet of him," Mark answered.
"What happened...did you get nervous?"
"I was as steady as a rock.”
"Don't tell me you didn't load your rifle," I teased.
Mark was getting annoyed. "No it was loaded Pa...I just..." Mark stopped.
"Just what?" I asked.
"I just decided maybe I...I've been after him for too long. I wanted him until I got close enough to get him...then I saw him up close...he wasn't like I thought he would be...he was sorta raunchy lookin' and patches of hair out of him. He saw me...he looked right at me...but his eyes were sort of tired like...like as if he were trying to say...you wanna win? Well then go ahead and shoot 'cause it means an awful lot for you to win...and it means nothing to me to lose."
Wow! My son had just spoken my thoughts. It really made me stop and think.
"So you decided not to shoot him too," I said.
"I guess that doesn't make much sense to you...does it Pa?"
"It makes a lot of sense son, a whole lot!" This was the 'End of the Hunt' for both Mark and I.
piddlin' stuff.....K.T. Stevens was in five episodes ― Heller as Muriel Bechtol, she was married to that evil Andrew Bechtol ― The Fourflusher as Molly Fenway, she was married to a sharecropper who entered his colt in the horse race ― Face of Yesterday as Nancy Clay was the wife of the man he killed in the Civil War ― Honest Abe as Emma Lincoln, the sister to Able Lincoln who claims that he's the Great Emancipator Molly Fenway in End of the Hunt as Granny Mede, Reef Jackson was her nephew, Lucas knew them from when he lived in the Nations.
Jeff Morrow played Reef Jackson. He was the man that Lucas wanted revenge on for shooting him in the back, leaving him to die and tried to steal his wife, Margaret.
Patricia Blair as Lou Mallory. Patricia was first introduced to The Rifleman in Lou Mallory. She played a hot-tempered Irish lass who was a razor-sharp businesswoman. She joined the cast in the fifth and final season and appeared in seventeen episodes. Patricia replaced Joan Taylor who played Milly Scott owner of The General Store.
John C. Gilbert played the boy who came to tell Lucas that Granny Mede's kin was at her place. John is the son of Herschel Burke Gilbert.
John Paul Music productions—Laurel Records
Herschel Burke Gilbert's theme for The Rifleman are among the most famous TV themes of all time.
Check out The Rifleman lyrics page — ♫'s by Herschel
Thanks John for these lyrics!
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
Harry Finley played Harvey. It sure sounds like Lou says Harry.....what say you? Maybe Lou called him by his real name by mistake. He was the one who Lou asked if he would watch over the hotel while she went out.
Tom Kennedy ― Death Never Rides Alone as one of the townsmen at the saloon — The Assailants as one of the townsmen — Gun Shy as a the townsman/man getting off of the stage — The Decision as one of the townsmen — The Executioner as the man reading the newspaper — Day of Reckoning as a churchgoer — Guilty Conscience as one of the townsmen — Which Way'd They Go? as a barfly — Outlaw's Shoes as one of the townsmen — The Challenge as one of the townsmen — None So Blind as one of the townsmen — A Young Man's Fancy as one of the townsmen — End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen.
You can see Tom in The Rifleman many times, probably more times then listed. He always went unaccredited, but not here at the ranch.
Tom Smith - How many times has Tom Smith been on The Rifleman? Is it 7 or 9? He was in The Queue as a customer in the dining room Outlaw's Shoes as a cowboy in town ― The Clarence Bibs Story as a cowboy in town ― Millie's Brother as a card player ― The Long Goodbye as a cowboy in town ― Suspicion as a cowboy in town and he was in Squeeze Play which later they used stock footage from Squeeze Play for Conflict and End of the Hunt.
Frank Ellis appeared in two episodes ― End of the Hunt ― Short Rope for a Tall Man as one of the townsmen.
George Sowards appeared in six episodes ― The Sharpshooter as a barfly ― The Fourflusher as one of the townsmen ― The Promoter as a boxing spectator ― The Clarence Bibs Story as one of the townsmen ― The Queue as one of the townsmen ― End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go? as one of the townsmen.
How many cowboy's other then Lucas also cared for Margaret?
There was Reef Jackson in End of the Hunt — Tom Birch in One Went to Denver and Lariat Jones - Lariat.
Bloopers - End of the Hunt
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
And the Devil Makes Five
around The McCain Ranch