Orphaned at 18 after his father's tragic death, Brett Sherman determines to keep the Sherman ranch going by himself, against the cautionings of his uncle and the judge in charge of the estate. He gets their reluctant promise to let him try and sets out to prove himself. After he has bagged a cougar and a killer bear, caught a wild stallion to sire new colts, brought in the hay for winter, and fallen in love--all very adult achievements--a brush fire, destroying the hay, sets him back to where he began. In the nick of time, however, a rich supply of gold turns up at the bottom of a forgotten pool. This hackneyed plot gets little help from the uninspired writing; conversation is stiff and pointedly casual (""Glad you could come,"" he said. ""Want a word with you, Brett."") In the book's favor is length (about 120 pages) which may attract reluctant boy readers susceptible to t.v. level material.