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Prairie Wolfer Full Episode – Gunsmoke, Season #09, Episode #16

Gunsmoke is a popular Western television series aired on CBS from 1955 to 1975. The series stars James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon, who works to keep the peace in Dodge City, Kansas. Gunsmoke is one of the longest-running television series in American history and remains a popular classic today. Two of the episodes in Gunsmoke have “Prairie Wolfer” as their title.

Episode 16 from Season 09 depicts the story of Festus Haggen, the prairie wolfer played by Ken Curtis. When Festus returns to Dodge City from wolfing, the Cattlemen’s Association hires him to track down the wolves killing everyone’s cattle. However, he discovers that the preying he’s been doing may land him in prison if he doesn’t get Marshal Matt Dillon’s help. Norman Macdonnell produced Prairie Wolf, season 9th’s 16th episode, aired on January 18, 1964.

Meanwhile, if you’re searching for Season 13’s episode where two fur trappers plan a robbery, you can find that here.

View Prairie Wolfer, Season 09, Episode 16’s plot, including some fascinating trivia, or watch the Gunsmoke episode below.

Watch the Full Episode, Prairie Wolfer

Watch the full episode of Prairie Wolfer:

Gunsmoke Prairie Wolfer Cast

The following cast members acted in the Gunsmoke episode, Prairie Wolfer:

  • James Arness as Matt Dillon
  • Dennis Weaver as Chester
  • Milburn Stone as Doc
  • Amanda Blake as Kitty
  • Burt Reynolds as Quint
  • Ken Curtis as Festus
  • Noah Beery Jr. as Nate
  • Don Dubbins as Wendt
  • Holly McIntire as Sarah
  • Fred Coby as Charlie
  • Glenn Strange as Sam
  • James Drake as Dude
  • Forest Burns as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Rex Moore as Barfly (uncredited)
  • Jimmy Noel as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Chick Sheridan as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Lucian Tiger as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Joe Walls as Townsman (uncredited)

Full Story Line for Prairie Wolfer

Festus Haggen returns to Dodge City after a long period of wolfing (killing wolves for their hide). On his way, he sees two men, Wendt and Nate Guthrie, discretely loading a cow into their wagon. Festus also crosses Guthrie’s farmhouse, where he briefly exchanges greetings with Guthrie’s daughter, Sarah.

The townspeople welcome Festus into the city with their curious glares and snide remarks. When Charlie sees him, he asks Marshal Matt if he’s dependable and a good hunter, to which Matt says yes. Charlie tells them that the Cattlemen’s Association is planning to hire Festus to hunt down the wolves killing everyone’s cattle during the winter. However, upon hearing this, Guthrie opposes. He believes it’s unsafe to have a wolfer hanging around his ranch, especially since he has his daughter Sarah. Still, Charlie wants to meet Festus, so Matt accompanies him to the barbershop.

Charlie tells Festus about the Association’s proposition. Festus agrees to help the farmers, then sets off to do as instructed.

The following day, he rides on and comes up to Guthrie’s farmhouse, where he and Sarah briefly talk. He immediately leaves upon Guthrie’s arrival, then plans to camp close to the ranch. However, Nate doesn’t want Festus to maintain proximity to his farm. He tells Sarah not to talk to Festus once she sees him again.

Guthrie tells Matt about Festus camping near their land, wanting Festus to camp elsewhere. Matt argues that he can only do something once Festus breaks any law. Guthrie tells Matt that Festus might be stealing his cattle, considering there haven’t been any wolves around. He thinks it’s part of Festus’ scheme of selling cattle meat and hides. However, Matt refuses to acknowledge that thought without any proof.

Marshall Matt visits Festus in his camp to inform him about Guthrie. Matt also wonders why Festus chose to camp in that area. Festus tells him that there’s good water, it’s close to the river, and the living things in the area are enough to attract wolves to his traps. However, Matt tells him it might have something to do with Guthrie’s daughter, Sarah.

Before Matt leaves, he tells Festus about the loss of the farmers’ cattle. Festus believes it’s not because of the wolves; wolves always leave some leftovers like bones, hoofs, horns, and even meat. He also has yet to see that many carcasses in the area.

Matt tells Guthrie about the discussion with Festus. He then asked Guthrie about his missing cattle, including where Guthrie believes Festus is selling the meat he allegedly stole. Guthrie tells Matt that maybe the wolves got the other cattle.

Wendt visits the farmhouse to speak with Sarah. He informs her that she’s marrying him as Guthrie promised, so he would have to call him “Rolly” from then on. Sarah refuses, stating his father has no right to say who she will marry. He starts assaulting her until Festus stops him. They start fighting, then Guthrie arrives with a rifle. Sarah stops Guthrie from shooting and tells Festus to let Wendt stand up. Before leaving, Festus tells Guthrie to stop worrying about him and Sarah since he came unarmed and the real threat is Wendt.

Sarah tells his father she refuses to marry Wendt, but he brushes her off, ordering her to return to their house. Guthrie worries Festus saw the hide they’ve hidden to take to Hays City. He plans to frame Festus by stacking them on his camp.

Meanwhile, Sarah followed Festus as he crossed their area. On her way, she finds a wolf trapped and is about to set it free when Festus shoots the animal dead. Sarah asked why he had to kill the wolf, so Festus explained it was his job. However, this only led Sarah to believe Festus meant just like his father’s words. Festus further explains that hunting and trapping wolves has always been his job since they often terrorize ranches.

Festus wonders why Sarah is in the area. Sarah tells him she wants to talk just like she said before and that she likes him as much as he does. Sarah also asks Festus to show her his camp. Although hesitant, Festus obliges.

Guthrie tells Charlie and Marshal Matt about the cow hides he found near Festus’ camp. At the camp, Festus wonders where his pelts had gone. Upon noticing the ranchers coming, Festus immediately hides with Sarah. However, Sarah rushes to his father, leaving Festus no choice but to face them.

Matt encourages Festus to speak his truth about what happened between him and Sarah. However, Festus thinks no one will believe him. After hearing his story, Matt agrees that no one will believe Festus except for him unless Sarah changes her story. Matt also thinks someone planted the cowhides in Festus’ camp to frame him.

Chester, who Matt sent to the fort, reports to Matt to tell him about Wendt. He learned that Wendt bought meat from an Argosy Meat Company, a company they hadn’t heard of before.

Guthrie arrives in the city just in time before Matt visits their farmhouse. Matt asks Guthrie about his daughter, to which he replies that she hasn’t been good yet. However, Matt insists on speaking with her, reasoning that she’s good enough for Guthrie to leave her alone.

In the town bar, Wendt discussed Festus and Sarah loud enough for the people to hear.

Matt and Sarah discuss the events that occurred that day near Festus’ camp. Sarah tells Matt that other than when Festus threw her in the bushes, they were having an excellent talk and about to drink coffee. She also confessed to going with Festus willingly despite him trying to send her home. Matt asks Sarah to join her back to the city to speak her truth since the townspeople believe far worse had happened, which may eventually lead him to prison for a long time. Sarah agrees, and before they leave, Sarah tells Matt that Wendt assaulted her, including details of him helping slaughter cattle. Matt informs Sarah that this could put his father in trouble. Regardless, Sarah joins Matt as she believes this is the right thing for her to do.

Guthrie tells Wendt that it’s no use having the townspeople hear their claims since Sarah will speak the truth. Guthrie plans to turn himself in, but Wendt shoots him. Matt stops him before he can escape. Before he dies, Guthrie encourages Sarah to tell everyone the truth and that Festus is innocent. Guthrie also apologizes for not being a good father and always trying to be one. Sarah assures him that he’s doing fine.

Matt frees Festus from jail. Sarah tells him that although she’d like to live with Festus, she’s not yet ready to get married. She plans to live with her aunt in Garden City. On the other hand, Festus plans to trail some cows instead of wolfing, assuring Matt that he’ll return soon.

Full Script and Dialogue of Prairie Wolfer

Well, come on, come on, can't
you work no faster than that?

Well, I could if
I had a mind to.

I don't want you
around here no longer

than you got to
be. Now, come on.

Well, a body'd think you
didn't like my company.

It ain't that, Wendt.

How many times
I got to tell you,

we can't be seen
together. Now, come on!

Well, who's gonna see us
way out here on your land?

All right. Just get the
meat stacked in there.

Get it into the fort
as quick as you can.

Well, I was kind of
hoping to see Sarah.

I thought I'd go on
over to the house.

You'll get plenty of chance to
see her when the time comes.

That's another thing...
You ain't set no date yet,

and I ain't heard
her say nothing

about getting married, either.

Well, now, Rolly, you...
you got to give her time

to sort of get used to things.

You know, she's just a
young girl, and she's...

Yeah, I know. She
ain't real bright.

But I told you, I
don't care about that.

Just so long as she
looks the way she does

and, uh, treats
me real lovin' like.

Take the roundabout
way, and be careful.

Do you hear me? You be careful.

I wouldn't, sonny.

How long you been
sitting up there?

You listening to
our private talk?

Who are you?

That'd be none of
your business, I reckon.

Well, it's my business
if you're on my land.

Well... golly Bill, don't
get your dander up.

I'm just a-passin' through it.

I ain't gonna hurt it none.

There's a road over there.

I don't hold with no roads.

I get to fixin' to go somewhere,

I just point my nose and go.

Like now.


I don't believe I'd bother with
that rifle if I was you, sonny.

This Ol' Betsy can
shoot a whole lot farther

and a heap straighter.

Let's go, Ruth.

- He was a wolfer.
- Yeah.

Y-You think he heard anything?

I don't know.

He sure seen plenty.

Well... it don't matter none.

Who'll listen to the
word of a wolfer?

Scum of the earth.



Howdy, ma'am.




Well, by golly, I ain't seen you
around Dodge in a long time.

- I ain't been.
- Yeah.

Ah, Mr. Dillon. Kitty. Doc.

- Chester.
- Guess who I just seen.

Festus Haggen.

- Festus?
- Yeah.

What's he doing in town?

Well, I seen him
over at the mercantile.

He had a load of pelts with him.

I guess he's been wolfing.

What an awful way
to make a living.

Well, I don't know,
Doc; at least it's honest,

and for a Haggen,
that's something new.

Well, I always figured
that Festus was honest.

Well, I think he
is, too, Chester.

Well, if he's wolfing, he's
probably doing awful good at it.

- Why?
- Well, you know the way the stockmen

have been yelling
about the wolves

getting their cattle and all.

I tell you, being a wolfer,

you know, you can
sure lose a lot of friends.

Well, I'll tell you, I
don't think Festus

is the kind of man that ever
worried about being sociable.

All I'm worried about
is losing customers.

Here he comes.

Hi, Festus.

- Marshal.
- Howdy, Festus.

Well, I'll get me a drink, and
I'll come over and set with you.



Well, that's all
right with me, dude.

It gives me more room
to stand up to the bar.

- Hello, Festus.
- Sam.

You ain't got there a bit
of Taos lightnin', I reckon?

No, we don't stock it
when you're not around.

Well, then just give
me a horn of whiskey,

the rawer the better.

There you go.

What are you ogling at?

Answer me!

Well, now, Festus, by
golly, it's good to see you.

You haven't been
around for quite a while.

Back too dang soon.

Don't hold with towns
and stuff like that.

Reckon you can see why.

Well, I guess people just
aren't too used to seeing

a wolfer around Dodge.

Well, I ain't used to seeing
no dudes like him, neither.

Well, what are you gonna
do? What are your plans?

Well, I ain't got no
long-range ones.

Uh, first thing I'm gonna do
is go down to the barbershop

and get me a bath and
put on some clean duds.

Getting kind of tired
of folks a-peering at me

like I was a piebald
mare or something.

Well, I was... I was
gonna go down that way.

I'll walk with you
if you want me to.

I'd be that proud, Chester.

- See you directly, Marshal.
- All right.


Oh, hello, Charlie.

- Hi. Hello, Miss Kitty.
- Charlie.

That wolfer, Marshal...

Haggen, now, they told
me down at the mercantile

that you could tell me
something about him.

- Is he dependable?
- Well, it depends on what for.

Well, for killing wolves.

Yeah, he's a good hunter.

Well, good, then that's the
man the Association wants.

What do you mean, Charlie?

Oh, hello, Guthrie.

Marshal, Miss Kitty,
you know Nate Guthrie.

- Oh, yeah. Marshal. Kitty.
- How are you, Guthrie?

What about that wolfer?

Well, I mean that the
Cattlemen's Association

ought to hire him to
clean out these wolves

that have been getting
our cattle all winter.

Yours, too.

Well... what do we
need a fella like that for?

Why... why don't we clean out
them wolves ourselves, huh?

Because we been
trying all winter

and there are still
wolves around.

What's the matter
with you, Guthrie?

You've been complaining
just like the rest of us.

The wolves got to your
cattle, too, you said.

Well, I don't like
a fella like that

hanging around my
ranch, that's what.

I got a young
daughter, you know.

Well, you don't have
to worry about that.

Oh, I don't, huh, Marshal?

Well, I think I do!

Fella like that living
all alone months on end

out on the prairie?

I'm gonna worry, you
can just bet on that.

I never heard him
carry on like that before.

I never thought he cared
that much about that daughter.

Guess maybe I was wrong.

Well, after all, he is
her pa, he loves her.

Well, what I meant,
Miss Kitty, is...

she sure is kind of strange,
y-you got to admit that.

There's nothing
wrong with Sarah.

It's just that she's been
stuck out in that ranch house

with nobody to
talk to but Guthrie.

Never allowed to go anyplace.

Not even allowed
to go to school.

Yeah, I-I guess
you're right, Miss Kitty.

Uh, Marshal, where will I
find this here Haggen fella?

Oh, come on, I'll
take you over there.

- So long, Kitty.
- See you later.

- Bye, Miss Kitty.
- Bye.

Where's Festus?

Uh, he's in there.


Well, Festus, you're gonna
look something different.

For a spell, anyhow, till I
get back out on the prairie.

That might be
sooner than you think.

We got a proposition
for you, Haggen.

Got my ear bent. Let me hear it.


Howdy, ma'am.

Oh, hello.

Let me help you there.

Pull up, Ruth.


Thank you.

They're my underpants.


The wind took 'em
up there, you know.

You look different.

Well, they done this
to me in town there.

Well, you look nicer.


Younger, too.

Aw, I ain't so young.

I am. I'm 18.

How old are you?

Ain't never heard tell.

Didn't your pa tell you?

My pa gives me a present
on my birthday every year.

Where I was born at...

folks don't think
much about birthdays

and stuff like that.

I just kind of growed.

But I'm older than
you by a good deal.

More like your
pa's age, I reckon.

Oh, well, you're...
you're different than Pa.

I wouldn't want you
to tell him this, but...

well, I get tired
of talking to Pa.

He... he...

well, he's always talking
about money, you know,

and... he has a hard time
making it ranching out here,

and... it makes him
kind of sad and angry.

I think I saw your
pa a time or two.

I bet you know lots of things
to talk about besides money.

I don't know anything
about money, that's for sure.

Well, what, then?

Mostly, I know about wolves.


Wolves, they scare me.

I want to hear about
them anyways, though.

I want to hear
about all them things.

Well, why don't you come in?

No, ma'am. Uh,
much obliged anyhow.

I... heard your pa, and I don't
reckon he'd approve of that.

Uh, anyhow, I got to go make
my camp before it gets dark.

Well, where are you gonna camp?

Well, I was figuring
someplace down by the water.

Why don't you camp down
there and then I can come over

and visit you and
we could... talk.

Well, uh... maybe
I'll... maybe I'll do that.

Back up, Ruth.


What's he doing here?

Oh, he was just
passing though, Pa.

I was... I was just
being neighborly.

Well, don't be. I told you never

to talk to strangers.

- But why, Pa?
- Never mind why!

If you see him coming again,
you get inside that house

and lock the door.

And you'd better remember.


Wendt, I told you never...

Yeah, I know, but I
had to get to you quick.

They're gonna want some
more meat over at the fort.

Got two extra companies
coming in from Larned.

They want it the
day after tomorrow.

No, no, there's
nothing I can do.

Not with that wolfer around.

He's camped too
close to my ranch.

Well, if I can't
get it from you,

I guess I'm gonna have to
get it from somewheres else.

Be a tidy sum, too.

They want 20 or more beeves.

Give me a little time, will you?

I'll see what I can figure out.

I tell you, Marshal, I
want him run off my land.

Now, in the first place, if
he's camped up by the springs,

he's not even on
your quarter section.

There's nothing I
can do about it legally.

Well, if you don't, there's
gonna be a lot of trouble.

Now, look, if you're worried
about your daughter...

My daughter can
take care of herself.

I told her to stay
locked up in that house,

and I gave her a gun
and told her to shoot him

right between the
eyes if he showed up.

She can do it, too.

Guthrie, you're talking about
a perfectly harmless man.

Harmless? He's a
dirty, stinking killer.

He's just as liable to
shoot a man as a wolf.

You think I want a fella like
that plowing around my land,

liable to shoot me in the back?

You're imagining things.

Then you won't do nothing, huh?

There's nothing I can do until
he breaks some kind of a law.

Now, that just might be.

You know, it gives me a hunch.

I'm still losing beef, but
there ain't no wolves around.

That'd be a mighty
slick scheme, wouldn't it?

If he was to be
pretending to kill wolves

and was stealing
my cows instead?

Maybe he's selling the meat?

The hides, huh?

You were losing those cattle a
long time before he showed up.

Who's to say how
long he's been around?

I'm afraid I'd have to
have some proof of that.

Can't you do nothing?

I'll go have a talk with
him, tell him how you feel,

but I can't guarantee
it'll do any good.

Well, it better.

It just better, Marshal, or
the Cattlemen's Association

is liable to take it
right out of your hands.

Reckon you'll
have to set on a log.

I ain't outfitted for
socializing none.


Pretty nice-looking camp
you got here, Festus.

Well, I got coffee and...

some meat in the
pot if you want some.

What kind of meat?


Yeah, I think I'll just
stick to the coffee, thanks.

Thank you.

Well, speak your piece, Marshal.

I know you didn't ride out
this far just for a cup of coffee.

Well, Festus, it's Guthrie.

You make him nervous working
so close by here on the range.

After all, you're
working for the whole

Cattlemen's Association.

Why don't you move
on down somewhere?

How come you started
here so close to Guthrie's?

Good water and
close to the river.

Spring coming on,
there's lots of living things

that stir in this meadow.

Wolf food. And
they're plenty hungry.

All I got to do is just set down

and wait for 'em to
come to my traps.

Now, this may sound
kind of strange to you,

but Guthrie seems to think
that it has something to do

with his daughter.

His daughter?

Yeah, you've seen her
around, haven't you?

Well, of course I've
saw her a time or two.

Is there anything
wrong with that?

I don't know, but he seems
to think his daughter isn't safe

as long as you're around.

Me around?

Well, I'm old
enough to be her pa.

I know that.

But he's told her to stay in the
house any time you come around.

Now, if I was you,
I'd stay clear of there.

You might get yourself shot.

Much obliged for
telling me, Marshal.

And I'd also think about moving

a little further
out on the range.

- You saying I got to go?
- No. No.

I'm just suggesting it.

Then I'll study on it.

Uh, that girl, uh...

Guthrie's girl.

Is there something
wrong with her, Marshal?

Well, I don't know.

Some people seem to
think she's kind of strange.

I... I figure it's just because

she hasn't been around
people very much.

She's never had much schooling.

I never had none.

I reckon I'm kind
of odd myself, huh?

Well, Festus,
thanks for the coffee.

You're welcome.

Say, uh, you don't have
very many pelts here, Festus.

There ain't many wolves around.

Well, the cattlemen have
been losing an awful lot of beef.

Not to wolves, they ain't.

What does that mean?

Well, when wolves take cattle,
there's always some leavin's.

'Cause they don't eat no
bone nor hoof nor horn.

Cold as it's been, there'd
ought to even be some meat left.

Ain't a handful of
carcasses for miles around.

Well, you got any
ideas about that?

That'd be your business,
Marshal, not mine.

So long, Festus.

- He'll think about moving.
- Think?

That's the best I
can do, Guthrie.

Well, did you see anything
suspicious down there?

Hides or anything?

Not a thing.

Let me ask you something.

How many head of
cattle are you missing?

Well, I ain't exactly counted
'em. Nothing like that.

No one would know for sure
till after spring roundup, but...

Well, now, if it was
Festus doing all this,

he's been doing a pretty
good business, hasn't he?

Now, where do you figure
he's selling all this meat?

And how's he handling all
those hides without any help?

Well, I ain't saying he done
away with all of 'em hisself.

Maybe the wolves
got some of 'em.

Th-There was a lot of
'em around here last winter.

I seen 'em and heard 'em.

Well, maybe he
cut 'em down some.


Come on. Gloria, come on.

Come on.


That's it, girls. Come on.

Howdy, Sarah.

Oh, Mr. Wendt.

Pa's in the house.

It ain't your pa
I want to talk to.

It's you.

Talk away.

As long as it ain't about money.

It ain't.

And when you gonna
stop calling me "Mr. Wendt,"

start calling me "Rolly"?

I don't know.

Don't seem respectful somehow.

Why not? It's my name.

You're gonna have to
start calling me it sometime.


Well, uh...

you don't call your
husband "mister."


Yeah. Husband.

When you and me's married...


Me and you?

I ain't gonna marry you.

You mean your pa
ain't told you yet?

Told me what?

That you're promised to me.

Well, he can't do that.

He can't promise.

Why not? He's your pa.

Well, it ain't for him
to say who I marry;

it's for me to say.

What are you doing?

Well, I'm just trying to show
you how much I love you, Sarah.

Well, I don't like
it. Stop it, now.

Well, come on, why don't
you just be a good girl, huh?

- Take your hands off me.
- Oh, come on, Sarah.


You better back off, now, sonny.

Y-You. What-what
are you doing here?

That'd be none of
your business, I reckon.

Well, this is none of yours.

I'm a-makin' it mine.

You leave that child be.

You got no right to
tell me what to do.

Go on. Get out of here.

Go on. Get out.

Go on!

Get. Go on.

No, Pa! Don't you do it!

Mister, let him up, now,
you hear me? Let him up!

Filthy, stinking scum, get
out of here or I'll see you dead.

One way or another,
I'll see you dead.


fretting about your
daughter and me.

What you'd ought to be doing
is protecting her from him.

I ain't a-fixin' to
harm her none.

That's what I come here
to say, and I come unarmed.

Pa, I ain't gonna marry him.

Ah, we'll talk about that later.

Well, there ain't
no use in talking...

Go on over to the house,
Sarah, will you? Go on, now.

What's the matter with you?

Can't you control yourself?

You better control her.

If you think I'm gonna
risk my neck for her...

Well, we got another
problem now... that wolfer.

I wonder if he seen them hides.

I thought I told you to take
'em up to Hays City last week.

I couldn't. You know that.

We've got to do
something about him.

Come on over here.

Come on!

Tomorrow, we're
gonna take 'em up

and stack 'em right
by Mr. Haggen's camp.

Right where the
marshal will find them.

We might even help him find 'em.


All right, he's leaving
on his trap rounds now.

You take these hides
and put them in the thicket

up on that hill behind his camp.

I'm going up there
and get some of those

wolf pelts of his
and add to the stack.

Sort of put his signature on it.




Oh, you poor thing.

Y-You're trapped.

That's all right, now. You
just calm yourself down.

I'll... I'll get you
out of there.

I won't harm you.

That's all right, now.

Now, just...

Why did you shoot the wolf?

Well, it's what I'm hired for.

He pretty near
tore hisself loose.

If he had'a, he could have...

You're just like my pa said.

You're mean.

You kill things.

How could you do
such a terrible thing?

I been hunting and
trapping all my life.

I never figured it was so bad.

Well, don't you feel anything?

Watching them die?

He never hurt you.

He was...

just free and wild.


Have you ever saw a little calf

with his throat all tore open,

half eat up by wolves like him?

Or a little antelope,
or a buffalo cow?

As for chickens like
you got up at your house,

why, they-they kill
them just for sport.

But he looks
just like a big dog.

Pretty near is, except
he's bigger, stouter.


Doesn't it make
you feel sad, though?

To kill something?

Well, my papa
always used to say,

"Man or beast,
everything in creation

starts to die a little bit
the minute it gets born."

Sometimes it's drawed out,

sometimes it's real quick.

Maybe there's a golden
land for them fellers, too.

Well, I'll come back,
pick him up directly, and...

Hey, what... what are
you doing here, anyhow?

I came to talk, just
like I said I would.

Well, does your pa know?

Well, I don't care about my pa.

He can think what he wants.

I like you.

And I think you like me.

I want to see your camp.

If your pa or anybody
else is to find you there,

they're... they're
liable to think that...

You gonna hurt me or something?

Well, I'd tell them
they was wrong.

Come on, I'm going.

Which way is it?

Sure are hard-headed
for a young'un,

I'll tell you that.

Right on down there is
where I found them, Marshal.

Right near his camp.

How'd you happen to run
across them way out here?

Well, I was looking for them.

I figured they had to be
around here someplace.

Some of your brand
in there, Charlie.

Ain't much like a house, is it?

I'm kind of used to it,

but I reckon a lady
wouldn't find it so handsome.

Oh, I like it.

Do you have any tea?

No, ma'am.

I... I got some coffee.

It's probably pretty stout,

but I'll put it on
and heat it up.

What'd I tell you, Marshal?

Lookie there, there's
all different brands.

Mine, Charlie's.

Look, there's
some wolf pelts, too.

Let's go talk to Festus.

How'd you get to
be like you are?

You heard tell
I'm not bright, too?

Oh, no, ma'am, I...

I-I think you're
the smartest child

I've ever saw.

Oh, well, I... I read a lot.

My ma left me all her
books when she died.

I never been to school.

What's the matter?

There's something
strange going on.

Something missing.

My pelts!

My pelts is gone.


who would take your pelts?



Somebody up there.

Come on, we got to get you hid.

- No, I don't want to.
- You do like I tell you to do!

Now, come on!

Please, ma'am.

I mean, please, ma'am.

For a favor.

If they was to find
you here, they'd...

Oh, I'll tell 'em. Don't
worry about that.

You don't understand.

They ain't gonna
believe anything you say,

or me, neither.

Now, come on.

I don't want to hurt you.

I got to get you out of here.


You lay here and be quiet, now!

You stop it! You're hurting me.

You got to be still.

Please be still.

Don't, neither.


You let me up.

Don't look like he's here.


there's his mule
and his horse, here.

More than likely, he lit out
when he heard us coming.

Ain't in there.


Festus, we want to talk to you!

Well, come on, let's
spread out and look for him.



Pa! Pa!


There he goes! Stop him!

Hold it, Festus! Don't shoot.

I'm gonna kill him.

Nobody touches him.
He's going with me.

Now, if there's a charge
against him, he'll stand trial.

Well, there's charges
against him now,

you can bet on that.


Let's go, Festus.

Come on.




You feeling better now?

I'm fine, Pa.

All over that silly crying.

Let me fix you something to eat.

N-No, I don't want anything.

Listen, Sarah, I
want you to tell me

about what happened out there.

I mean everything.

Well, I'll tell you
the best I can.

The way it happened...

he thrown me down real
hard in the bushes and...

clapped his hand over my
mouth so that I couldn't holler.

I bit him once, but
he done it again.

I mean before that.

Before that?

- Nothing.
- Nothing?

Well, Festus, what do you say?

You gonna talk?

What good's that gonna do?

Nobody's gonna believe me.

Don't you realize
you're in serious trouble?

You could go to prison for a
long time if don't you help me.

Marshal, do you think I'd do
anything to harm that child?

Doesn't matter
what I think, Festus.

She says you did.

I might have roughed
her up a little bit

trying to keep her still.

When I heard you all coming,
I knowed what you'd think.

She wouldn't hide,
she wouldn't go,

just kept on saying
she'd tell them

there wasn't nothing wrong.

I had to drag her
into the brush.

She just don't
understand none of it.

I warned you to
stay away from her.

Golly Bill, Marshal,
she come to me.

Wanted to talk.

I tried to send her back to
her house; she wouldn't go.

She's such an
innocent little ol' thing.

Surely you don't think I'd
do what they're all saying?

No, I don't, Festus. But
I'm afraid you're right...

Nobody else is gonna
believe that except me,

unless she changes her story.

Now, I haven't even
been able to talk to her yet.

Her father says
she's not well enough.

Now, I will talk to her,
but in the meantime,

I think we ought to clear
up this rustling charge.

Near as I can figure,

those hides must have been
planted there against you.

And it must have been
Guthrie that put 'em there.

Now, if it was Guthrie,
he had to have some help

and he had to have
someplace to sell that meat.

The only place I know of
that could buy that much meat

would be the fort, and
I've sent Chester out there

to talk to the commissary.

But if you've got
any information

that might help,
you better tell me.

I told you about
the wolves, Marshal.

Uh, that's my business.

This ain't; this is your'n.


What'd you find out?

Well, the fort has been
buying a lot of meat, Mr. Dillon.

The sutler's new assistant,
a fella by the name of Wendt,

has been buying it from,
uh, an Argosy Meat Company.

Now, I never heard
of that. Did you?

No. I doubt if anybody else
has ever heard of 'em, either.

- Yeah.
- But Wendt, I've seen him around town.

- Oh?
- Well, look, you stay here.

I'm going out to
the Guthrie place.

- Guthrie.
- Hello, Marshal.

How's your daughter feeling?

I was just headed
out to see her.

Oh, she still ain't too good.

Now, if she's good enough
for you to leave her alone,

I'd like to go out and see her

- and get this thing cleared up.
- Cleared up?

Yes. I don't think
there's anything

to her charges against
Haggen, or yours, either.

Now, lookie here, Marshal,
if... if you got some accusations

against me, I... I
want to hear 'em.

You will, Guthrie, soon enough.


They've been asking
questions out at the fort.

Oh, that wolfer probably talked.

Well, he's got to be shut up.

He's the only one that's
a witness against us.

That won't do no good.
Sarah will tell them anyway.

I been hearing about
Sarah; it's all over town.

Listen, there's a lot of
hatred against that wolfer.

- Now, we can use it.
- That won't do no good.

He... he didn't do it, and she's
gonna tell 'em he didn't do it.

The marshal's out there
talking to her right now.

Well, then we got
to act right now.

We ain't got no time to lose.

It's a terrible thing about
your daughter, Nate.

That wolfer ought
to be strung up.

Everybody says so.

You know, ten chances to
one, he'll get off scot-free.

Folks say that
she ain't all there.

Won't believe her.

Maybe won't
even let her testify.

Now, how do you
like that for justice?

And finally I pretended
to faint, and then...

he let up, and I screamed.

And that's all?


the worst hurt was when he
throwed me down in the bushes

and put his hand over my mouth.

Ah. Now, look, before
that, before we got there...

was he hurting you then?

Oh, no, we...

we was having a nice talk.

He was gonna tell me
all about the animals

and the wild, free things.

We was gonna have coffee.

I like tea better, but
he didn't have none.

And you went there
of your own accord?


He tried to send me
home, but I wouldn't go.

He killed a wolf, but then
he explained about that,

and I wasn't mad at him anymore.

Sarah, would you
come into town with me

and tell that to some people?


You see, there are
some people in town

who are trying to claim that
what Mr. Haggen did to you

was a whole lot worse than
just throwing you on the ground.

Now, he might have to
go to prison for a long time.

You wouldn't want
that, would you?


He's... like the animals.

He... he wouldn't
be happy in there.

He's got to be out
on the prairie, free.

Will you come with me, then?


I know what you
mean, Marshal, about...

something a lot worse
than throwing me down.

You mean, like, kissing and all.

But Mr. Haggen never
done nothing like that.

Mr. Wendt...

You know Mr. Wendt?

Oh, yes. He comes
over here quite a lot

to help with the slaughtering.

The slaughtering? You
mean slaughtering cattle?


Sarah, before you say any
more, I've got to warn you...

You might get your
father in trouble.

My father in trouble?

You see, there are some men
that have been stealing cattle

out on the prairie.

They've been selling
the hides and the meat.

Now, I think that it may be
your father and this Mr. Wendt.

But they're trying to claim
that it's Festus, Mr. Haggen.

No, that ain't true.

Mr. Haggen never had
nothing to do with that.

Will I have to say
about that, too, Marshal?

You might.

Will you still come?

I got to, don't I?

It's the truth.

Listen to me here.

I got something I want
to say to all of you.

Now, I want you to listen
here. Come on in. That's it.

Can you hear me, all?

You all know what I'm gonna
say. You all know that every time

one of them wolfers
comes into Dodge,

we got nothing but trouble.

Looks pretty bad, don't it?

They got about ten or 12
drunks in the lynch mob already.

That might be enough.

Yeah, it sure might.

You better go back
inside and get Matt

before they come over here.

Mr. Dillon ain't here.

He's out at the Guthrie place.

Reckon we can face that bunch?

Somebody's gonna have to.

It's a poor way to
pass an evening.

Come on, let's go inside.

Whose daughter will his
hands reach out for next time?

Only way to do it's
to set an example!

Now, are you gonna let scum
like that run loose, are you?!

No! No!

Wendt! It's no use!

I tell you it ain't no use;
she's gonna tell 'em.

Shut up, you fool. I got
'em almost ready to move.

That won't do you no good.

Sarah's gonna
tell 'em everything.

Who'll believe her?
She ain't even half bright.

Quit talking about her
like that, do you hear me?!

You're a fool!

I never did think very
much of you, Wendt.

I wouldn't be in
this mess right now

if I hadn't listened to you.

Oh, you're gonna put all
the blame on me, is that it?

No. No, I'm just as
much to blame as you are.

But I'm through with it now.

I ain't gonna get mixed up
in it no more, you hear me?

And that fella, Haggen, he's
innocent, too, and you know it.

- Will you shut up, Guthrie!
- I ain't gonna shut up!

I ain't gonna let Sarah tell
'em all by herself. I'm gonna...

- Will you shut up!
- You shut up!

I ain't gonna leave it
for Sarah to tell 'em!

- Guthrie, stop!
- I'll tell 'em my...





Oh, Sarah.

Pa... you're hurt.

I wanted to tell 'em.

I meant to tell 'em.

- Sarah.
- Yeah?

You tell 'em...

a-about Wendt...

and me.

And, Sarah, tell
'em that wolfer,

he didn't have
nothing... to do with it.

Oh, I'll-I'll tell 'em, Pa.

I'll tell 'em.

I guess I... ain't been
too good a pa to you

since your ma... passed away.

But I tried.

- I sure tried.
- You done fine, Pa.

- Honest.
- No, I...

- Sarah?
- Yeah?

You... you're the...

you're the finest d...


Festus, you're free to go.

Obliged, Marshal.

Ma'am, I'm...

sure plumb sorry to
hear about your pa.

If there's anything
I could do, why...

You already have, Mr. Haggen.

You... told me about the wolves.

Everything has to die sometime.

My pa and my ma and...

me and you.

That's just the way life is.

I guess I can bear it
just like everybody else.

Where will you go now, child?


been thinking about that.

I... I thought I'd
like to live with you,

but I'm not ready to
get married yet, so I...

I guess I'll go live with
my aunt in Garden City.

I hope you don't mind.

No, ma'am. I...

reckon that'd be the
best thing for you.

Where are you going, Mr. Haggen?

I kind of figured I'd...

make me a little trip down
to Texas or someplace,

maybe get a job
a-trailin' some cows.

Don't think I like
wolfin' no more.

Festus, you'll be
coming back, won't you?

Oh, I reckon I will
one of these days.

Fact is, you can pretty
near count on it, Marshal.

Behind the Scenes

Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis) makes his debut as a regular in this episode. This episode is notable for featuring all lead characters, including Chester and Quint.

This episode is frequently confused with another named Gunsmoke: Prairie Wolfer, which aired in 1967.

For the first time, Festus appears without a beard in this episode (he does start with one).

Ken Curtis appeared in 306 episodes of Gunsmoke, 16 more than Dennis Weaver’s 290. In five of those episodes, he was not Festus.

Looking for More Gunsmoke Episodes?

Have Gunsmoke as your next show to binge-watch alone or with your family! It is an American Western television series on the CBS network that aired for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975. Prairie Wolfer is the 16th episode of Season 9.

You can find more about any of the Gunsmoke episodes here.

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