It is early December evening in 1793. Horses pulled slowly uphill big sled. There are father and daughter in the sleigh - Judge Marmaduke Temple and Miss Elizabeth. Judge - one of the first settlers, one of those, thanks to whom this wilderness transformed. There appeared churches, roads, schools.
Evening silence breaks the loud barking of dogs. From the forest jumps the deer. Judge grabs the shotgun and shoots the animal twice. Deer continues to run. Suddenly a shot is heard from behind the trees. Deer jumps. Another shot - and the animal falls dead. There appears Leather Stocking - Bumppo Natty. He is old, but still looks strong.
Natty welcomes Temple and slightly jeers at his unsuccessful shot. Judge proves that hit the deer. But from behind the tree comes out a young man - he is wounded in the shoulder by one of the pellets. The referee stops the dispute and, worried, offers victim assistance. The young man is stubborn. The girl joins her father’s request, together they persuade the wounded.
During the descent from the mountain to the town, located on the shore of the lake, Marmaduke and his daughter meet four; among them - Richard Jones - the person very limited, but very ambitious, a liar and a braggart - a cousin of the judge. He rules the horses, and by his fault sleds hover over the precipice. The wounded young man jumps out of his sleigh, grabs the reins of horses and with a strong push jerks them back on the road.
In the judge’s house the doctor removes the pellet from the youth's shoulder. From further assistance the young man refuses, and confides himself to a quietly appeared "Indian John" - his friend, drunken Indian Chingachgook. Marmaduke Temple offers Oliver Edwards - the name of the injured stranger - to compensate the harm caused to him, but he refuses.
A nice Christmas surprise waits for Richard the next morning. Marmaduke efforts were successful - his brother is appointed a county sheriff. Marmaduke offers Oliver the secretarial post. The young man intends to refuse, but Chingachgook convinces him to agree.
The harsh winter finally passed. It is the beginning of spring, and Elizabeth with her friend often strolls on horseback. Once in society of Marmaduke, Richard and Oliver they went along the hillside. Judge reminisces about the difficulties of settling this region. Suddenly Oliver shouted, "Tree! Whip the horses! " A huge tree collapses, but they all have slipped. Oliver Edwards risked his live to save Elizabeth’s friend.
The last ice melts on the lake. Spring dresses fields and forests with green. Residents of the town commit the mass - much more than are necessary for subsistence, - destruction of migratory birds and spawning fish. Leather Stocking angrily denounces them.
The summer came. Elizabeth with her friend goes for a walk in the mountains. From Edward’s offer to accompany them Elizabeth refuses quite strongly. Oliver goes down to the lake, sits in a skiff, and hurries to Leather Stocking. Not finding anyone in the hut, he goes to catch perch. It turns out that Natty Bumppo with Chingachgook are also fishing. Edwards joins them. Distant dogs’ barking disturbs Leather Stocking. Hunter thinks that his dogs broke down leash and chase deer. Indeed, on the banks appears a deer. Fleeing from the dogs, he throws himself into the water and swims toward the fisherman. Forgetting everything, Nathaniel and Chingachgook pursue him. Oliver tries to warn them, shouting that the hunting season is not open yet, but, yielding to passion, joins the persecutors. The three of them drive the animal and Leather Stocking kills him with a knife.
Meanwhile, the girls accompanied by only one old mastiff, go deeper into the forest. They stumble upon a mountain lion with a cub. The cub playing comes to sneered mastiff, but the dog quickly cracked down the "kitten". But here the mother catches the dog. In a desperate fight mastiff dies. Elizabeth looks at the mountain lion preparing to pounce. Behind her is a shot heard - a huge cat rolls on the ground. Leather Stocking appears and with the second shot finishes the beast.
Marmaduke is in a quandary: the savior of his daughter is accused - through the efforts of his cousin Richard! - not only in illegal hunting, but also in resistance to the authorities (when Doolittle - magistrate and part-time sheriff spy’s - tried to make a search in his shack, hunter threw him off).
Court. With illegal hunting are no difficulties: the penalty for a hunted deer covers premium for killed cougars. The resistance of the authorities is much more serious. Marmaduke Temple accuses him to stay an hour in the pillory, one month's imprisonment and a fine of one hundred dollars.
Elizabeth is upset. Father convinces her that he could not do otherwise, he persuades her to visit Nathaniel in prison and give him two hundred dollars. Hunter is glad to see the girls, however, refuses the money. The only thing he is willing to accept from Elizabeth is a jar of good gunpowder. She happily agrees. After her departure - with the help of Oliver - Nathaniel runs away. The next day Elizabeth brings to the appointed place the gunpowder. However, instead of the hunter finds here only lapsed into a trance Chingachgook. Indian mutters something about the imminent departure to the ancestors and of the miserable fate of his people. Overdried by sun air becomes bitter - there is a smell of burning, and the smoke appears. There is a loud crash, the flames flashes - a forest fire! She began calling Leather Stocking.
Edwards appears. He is trying to save the girl, but the flame is getting closer. It seems there is no escape. In the face of impending doom Oliver Edwards explains Elizabeth in love. And, as always, at the right time and in the right place Leather Stocking appears. Taking on his shoulder indifferent to everything Chingachgook, he in the bed of the stream, through the smoke and the fire takes everyone into a safe place. Storm begins. Chingachgook dies.
Oliver Edward’s secret is revealed. The boy is the son of an emigrated to England Effingham, and the grandson of the missing, legendary Oliver Effingham.
Autumn comes. In September the wedding of Oliver and Elizabeth Edwards is to take place. A few days later the legendary Oliver Effingham died, and he was buried near the grave of the great warrior Chingachgook. On a sunny October morning newlyweds visit the small cemetery. They found there Leather Stockings. Despite the entreaties of friends, he says goodbye to them and hit the road.