In the town of Duck ‘N’ Shoot, trail herders and ranch hands run wild, shooting up the town. Bret is playing poker as one of the thugs, Bill Ferguson, brings his horse into the saloon, goes up to the bar, and knocks a man aside. While Bret ignores the situation, the townspeople complain to Judge Hardy. However, none of them want to take on the job of sheriff since the last one resigned that morning. As Bret starts to leave with his $5,000, Ferguson comes back for his horse. Bret bumps it, it rears up, and knocks Ferguson unconscious. To the townspeople, it looks like Bret knocked the outlaw unconscious with a single punch.
Judge Hardy has his man Smitty bring Bret to his office. He’s glad to take credit for knocking out Ferguson, and Judge Hardy explains that their sheriff ran out on them. They want Bret to be the new sheriff for six months. When he refuses, Judge Hardy refuses to give him the money except as a salary. Bret still tries to get out of it and the saloon owner, Andrews, accuses him of cheating. When Bret says that they’re blackmailing him, Judge Hardy insists that it’ll take them six months to investigate the charges and he’ll have to impound the $5,000 until then. Bret tries to explain that he’s never been a sheriff and is a coward at heart, but the businessmen assume he’s being modest and go along with Hardy.
Once he hides his new sheriff’ badge beneath his lapel, Bret sets up shop at the jail. Bill Waker comes in to clean up and make coffee, and Bret finally works out that he’s the deputy. Billy tells Bret that he’s the 23rd sheriff and offers a toast to law and order. Once Bret chokes down the coffee, Billy gives him the lay of the land. He warns that the primary troublemaker is Bimbo Ferguson, the brother of Bill, the man that Bret knocked out. When Billy suggests they go on rounds, Bret explains that there’ll be less trouble and more order if he doesn’t.
The townspeople gather to watch Bimbo as he rides through the town, shooting things up. Among them is new arrival Melissa “Missy” Maybrook and her traveling companions, Fred Leslie and Buck Danton. In the jail, Bret cowers and figures that Bimbo will go away, but Bimbo keeps shooting and Bret finally takes off his gunbelt and goes outside. Bimbo asks what Bret plans to do about him, and Bret takes out a deck of cards. He offers a hand of poker, winner take all. Bimbo wrecks the town or goes to jail, win or lose. Bret offers him a sealed deck and invites him into his office to play. Bimbo prefers to stay outside and they cut for deal. When Bimbo wins the deal, they play a hand. Bret wins, three of a kind to two pair, and Bimbo lets Billy lock him up. Meanwhile, Missy tells her traveling companions that Bret may work out a similar arrangement with them.
Later, Fred and Buck wonder if they need Missy to rob the bank once the cattle drives drop off $20,000 there. She insists on staying in town to collect her cut and tells them to case the bank. Missy says that it’s best not to underestimate Bret and she’ll take care of distracting the new sheriff while they do their job.
That night, Bret drops a drunk, Herman, off at the jail and asks Billy where Hardy keeps his safe. Billy explains that Hardy keeps it in his office and has it welded to the floor. When Herman keeps singing, Bret gives him a drink to keep him quiet.
A few days later, Bret comes to see Hardy at the saloon and asks him when he’s going to realize he made a mistake. However, Hardy points out that they needed someone who can outsmart the criminals instead of outshoot them. He pays Bret his first month’s salary and insists that he’ll be staying the full six months. Realizing he’s trapped, Bret goes to the telegraph office and sends a wire to Bart. As he walks down the street, Missy approaches him and asks for a recommendation for dinner. He offers to pick her up and Missy accepts.
Back at the saloon, a fight breaks out and Andrews calls Bret in. Bimbo is fighting another ranch hand, Little George, but Bret is content to watch as Bimbo finally goes down. When a man offers a wager that Bimbo won’t get up, Bret steps in to take the man’s bet. Bimbo gets up and Little George goes down, and Bret starts another round of wagering that the ranch hand will get up. Meanwhile, he secretly pours whiskey on Little George, waking him up. Andrew worries that they’re wrecking the place and Bret assures him that he’ll take care of it. He continues to bet on who will get up until the two fighters realize he’s winning money off of them. They decide to find a quiet place to win where no one will make a profit from them.
That night, Bret enjoys dinner with Missy and she points out that he doesn’t act like a sheriff. He avoids explaining why he’s the sheriff and asks why she’s there, and Missy says that she came looking. Fred and Buck watch, and Buck worries that Missy might become attracted to Bret. Fred assures him that it won’t happen.
The next morning, Bret arrives at the jail and Billy points out that Missy is with Buck and Fred and they have a record with the law. The deputy figures that they’re up to something and suggests that Bret check them out. Bret promises that he will and goes to the hotel. The clerk directs him to their room. Meanwhile, Missy is telling her partners that she has everything well in hand with Bret. Bret arrives at the room and hears them, and quickly hides before they can spot her.
Later, a nervous-acting Missy arrives for lunch with Bret and tells him that Fred and Buck are planning to rob the bank that night at midnight. She claims that she had no idea what they had planned but Bret tells her that he overheard the conversation. Missy claims that she played along with them and wouldn’t be telling him the truth unless he was innocent. Bret considers leaving town without his $5,000 and Missy suggests that he rob the bank first. Then Fred and Buck would have to leave town with nothing, and Bret could impress Hardy and get out of his job early.
Bret ends up agreeing to Missy’s scheme and they break into the bank. As they go inside, Herman sees Bret. Missy and Bret go through the bank president’ desk and find the $20,000. Bret hides the money outside of town and assures Missy that he’ll tell what he did to Hardy in the morning and bask in the judge’s praise. Missy suggests they ride into town separately and Bret agrees. However, he then rides back and hides the money underneath a different rock. Missy has secretly watched the entire thing.
When Bret arrives at the jail, he finds Hardy and his people waiting for them. Herman told them what he saw and Bret explains his plan. Hardy doesn’t believe it and demands to see the $20,000. Bret refuses and says he can prove his claim by going to the bank and seeing Fred and Buck break in. They stand watch outside the bank and Buck and Fred eventually head for the bank. However, Missy tells them that men are watching the bank and she never met Bret as planned. They call off the robbery and pay her $100 for her troubles.
Meanwhile, nobody shows at the bank and Hardy draws his gun on Bret. Bret leads them to where he hid the money only to discover that he’s gone.
When Bart arrives, he visits his brother in jail. Bret tells Bart to keep Missy from leaving town with the money. Bart is willing to help... once he has his brother’s written word that he’ll pay him the $5,000 that he owes Bart. Bret has no choice but to sign and Bart goes out. He’s identified himself as a banker there to get money back from Bret. Meanwhile, Hardy comes to see Bret and tells him that Missy has denied everything. He warns Bret that some robbers might try for a five-year sentence and then leave with the money, but the judge plans to make sure Bret is in prison for a long time.
Bart, posing as John the banker, soon becomes romantically involved with Missy. He explains that he’s a professional gambler and his backers have scheduled a game for him that night at 10 p.m. Missy is intrigued and suggests she might want to invest. Bret says that he’s working for two cattlemen and Missy tells him that the bank was robbed and the cattlemen’s money is gone. She suggests that she become his new investor and Bart agrees. She removes the $20,000 from a secure location on her body and hands it over.
Once Bart has the money, he turns Missy over to the judge while Buck and Fred leave town. Hardy confirms the serial numbers with the Denver Bank and puts her in jail. However, the judge is so impressed with how Bret solved the case that he insists on him staying on. However, Bret points out that the $5,000 now belongs to Bart, and Bart has shown how good a lawman he is by capturing Missy. As Bret slips away, Hardy pins the sheriff’s badge on Bart. Once he leaves, Missy promises Bart that she’ll find a way to get both of them out of town with the $5,000.
As Bret rides out of town, Bimbo sees him and Bret explains the situation. Bimbo draws his gun and begins shooting up the town. At the jail, Billy explains how Bimbo likes to take on the new sheriff and Bart takes off his gunbelt and grabs a deck of cards before going out.