Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
Season 13, Episode 3
#393 in Series
Air date October 3, 1971
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by  Preston Wood
Directed by William Wiard
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Fallen Woman
Next Episode:
Rock-a-Bye, Hoss
External links
Bushwhacked on IMDb



Two ranchers find a seriously wounded Little Joe in the Nevada desert. As he struggles for life, Joe mumbles incoherently about his surrealistic nightmares about a teepee and a wagon wheel. Ben and Hoss are left to decipher what Joe is talking about and determine what happened.

Joe is shot and wounded while he is on a cattle drive in the Nevada desert. Two ranchers find him delirious from thirst and the heat, and take Joe to their home to recover. While the ranchers summon a doctor, Joe struggles for life, mumbling incoherently and having surrealistic nightmares about a teepee and a wagon wheel. Ben and Hoss try to decipher Joe's ramblings to piece together what happened.


Cochise stands on her own in the distance, Joe’s hand appears holding a gun he fires a few shots.

Tom Griswold and Ern are out riding and hear the shots,


they head in the general direction of them and spot Cochise. He doesn’t recognise the brand and notices blood on Cochise, another shot is heard and they both run to where it’s coming from. They find Joe, he’s been shot in the leg, he is delirious and thinks the man is his Pa as he reaches out for him he collapses forwards revealing a wound to the back as well. They build a tabby(sic) to carry him back to their ranch, Joe babbles.

Tom tells Ern to ride ahead to tell his wife he’s bringing him in, Ern rides like the devil to the Griswolds as Tom can’t ride as fast dragging Joe on the tabby(sic). Ern tells Mrs Griswold that they’re bringing a stranger in that’s been badly wounded, Ern wants to know if he should call the Doctor but she won’t until she’s seen him since the Doctor costs money.


They carry Joe into the house and put him in their daughter’s room, Tom searches through Joe’s jacket and finds a wallet full of a lot of cash and a note that Ben wrote and identifies Joe. Tom’s wife Pat looks at Joe’s wound and decides he definitely needs a Doctor. Tom tells her he’ll also get the Sheriff to come as well, Pat tells him to send a wire to his kin in Virginia City.

At the Ponderosa a ranch hand rides in quick he has a telegram for Ben he tells him it’s come from Lone Pines. Ben tells him that Joe is there


and reads the telegram, he shouts to Hoss and tells his hand to saddle up two horses and two days worth of supplies, he runs into the house shouting for Hoss again.

Ben and Hoss are riding fast they are met by Ern on the way who’s been waiting for them, he knows a quicker way to the Griswolds and shows them the way. Ben asks how Joe is but Ern has been waiting there a couple of hours but he knows the Doctors with him. They ride on.


At the ranch Tom introduces Ben to the Sheriff and they go and see the Doctor, he tells Ben it’s serious and Ben goes to see Joe. Joe babbles about someone not to shoot him. The Doctor tells Ben he removed a bullet from the leg but there’s one in his back but it’s too close to his chest cavity in his current condition and if he probes too deeply he might kill him. Pat tells Hoss that they found his wallet and Hoss thought this was the reason Joe was shot and doesn’t know why anyone would want to just kill him. The Doctor tells Ben he needs to be alone now and Ben reassures Joe that he’s here with him now and leaves the room.


Joe seemingly wakes up but he’s delirious and hallucinating, he sees Ben at the end of the bed and Ben asks him if he’s figured it out yet but Joe can’t, Ben tells him to keep trying but Joe tells him he’s too tired. Ben tells him to think about it and Joe tells him he will try. Joe remembers a shot and then falling down. He’s lying on the ground when he sees a wagon approaching, then he sees a wagon wheel tumbling on its own. The Wagon pulls up with the wheel close to him; Hoss gets off the wagon and shoots Joe in the face. Joe screams. The wagon wheel tumbles and Joe runs.

Tom tells Ben where he found Joe on a map he tells Ben the land is Government owned and open for grazing. Ben queries the other surrounding ranches and Tom tells them that there’s his, Ed Flanders, Bill Steens and a couple of others own them. Hoss enquires if they’re all outside, but Tom tells him not yet but they soon will be as they have a community cattle drive. The Sheriff hasn’t asked anyone anything because he believes that if anyone had anything to say they would have told him. Ben asks if he went out to look and he tells them he didn’t saying that Tom told him that there wasn’t much to see. Ben’s none too happy the Sheriff is taking a back seat but he tells him he’s been looking into the reason for the shooting and Hoss asks him if he’s had any luck. The Sheriff asks Hoss if Joe had any enemies and both Ben and Hoss tell him no, the Sheriff asks him if it was a business deal that went bad but Ben tells him it was a straight forward deal, sell some horses to the army and then come home. The Sheriff concludes that Joe’s shooting was a hunting accident, Hoss can’t believe he was accidently shot twice. The Sheriff tells him that he could have been shot by mistake, that someone was out gunning for someone else. Ben asks who and the Sheriff doesn’t know, he doesn’t know of any feuds currently going on. Tom confirms that everyone gets on with everyone else. Ben is frustrated that the Sheriff hasn’t done anything but he tells him that he waited so that he could talk to Ben. Ben tells him that he’s now spoken to him so the Sheriff tells him that he’ll now wait for Joe to regain consciousness so he can talk to him. Ben is even more frustrated because it could be some time before he does that and doesn’t expect the person who did it to ride in with a sign on his chest, he again asks the Sheriff what is he going to do. The Sheriff doesn’t like being badgered and walks away.

Ben decides to speak to the Doctor again, he asks Tom if he can take Hoss out to where he found Joe.


Joe’s condition hasn’t changed, but his temperature is rising due to the bullet lodged in his back, he believes that Ben is wondering about his competence. He tells Ben he was a surgeon for the Union army and worked on all kinds of bullet wounds.

Joe is riding on Cochise, a shot is heard and he falls. A lone wagon wheel passes a tepee. Joe looks at the wagon wheel tumbling, he runs but is then shot in the back. The wagon wheel keeps on tumbling.

Ben is questioning the ranch owners and one of them believes he may have seen Joe but he’s not sure. He tells Ben he never heard any shots since he was a mile away from where Joe was shot. He takes Ben over to Ed Flanders, but Ed tells him he saw nothing and doesn’t like it that he’s asking all the ranch owners since they are all good people.

Tom shows Hoss where he found Joe, there’s a lot of shell casings at the spot. Tom tells Hoss that no one comes this way but Hoss tells him he did. Tom tells him it was only luck because he was looking for strays for the drive and may never have come this way for six or eight months. Hoss finds another set of tracks.

Joe’s fever is worse and he’s babbling again.

He’s riding Cochise, he introduces himself to two men we can’t see, they tell him they’re branding and offer him food and coffee. Joe asks for salt and is passed a salt cellar but when he looks at it it’s a tepee instead. Joe dreams about the tepee and the tumbling wagon wheel, he’s running from it. The wheel hits the tepee.


The Doctor tells Ben that his fever is dangerously high and he needs to get the bullet out now, Ben is worried because removing the bullet might kill him. Ben asks about the wound on Joe’s leg and asks to see the bullet he pulled out. He notices that the tip isn’t flat and that he was shot from long range when the bullet was almost spent when it hit him. The Doctor believes it’s possible the one in his back is the same but he needs Ben’s permission to operate, he gives him his permission and leaves. Ben walks outside clearly worried, the Doctor is operating on Joe now.

Joe is at the Ponderosa, he’s walking away from it, Ben comes out and calls to him to come back but Joe is too tired. Ben beckons him to come to him but Joe tells him he can’t and disappears into the darkness.

Outside Fenton arrives querying about some stranger who got bushwhacked, Flanders confirms they have and the Doctor is with him.


Joe is shot, he tumbles, he limps away. The wagon wheel is chasing him, he runs towards the tepee. It’s small but Joe manages to get inside. Joe has shrunk, he’s inside a massive tepee with a large burning camp fire. The wagon wheel hits the tepee and the hole Joe made to get in has gone. Another shot is heard and Joe tumbles. He looks up to see the wagon wheel spinning, its shadow casting on Joe as he lies there.

Hoss returns with Tom and the Sheriff. Hoss tells him that there was someone else there but they lost the trail. Ben tells Hoss and Tom that if Joe was bushwhacked by a stranger then they wouldn’t hang around. Tom doesn’t want to believe it that it might be one of his neighbours. Ben asks the Sheriff for a hunting pack but tells them it would be a waste of time, Hoss tells him enough times been wasted and a little more effort on his part wouldn’t hurt.


Julia shouts for Ben, the Doctor tells Ben the bullet wasn’t deep and now it’s up to Joe. Ben and Hoss go to see Joe and Ben tells him he’s going to be okay. Joe babbles again, he manages to say wagon wheel and a tepee and he’s too tired. Ben reassures Joe. Hoss doesn’t know what Joe is talking about and Ben puts it down to him being delirious and tells Hoss to stay at his bedside in case he wakes up. The Doctor has to leave for a while and will be back as soon as he can.

Tom again takes Ben out to the spot where Joe was shot, the Sheriff still believes it’s a waste of time. Ben wants to know who bushwhacked his son and Tom tells the Sheriff to get the dogs and meet them where they lost the scent. In the mean time the community cattle drive has started to move out to the drive camp.


Tom has taken Ben to where Joe was shot but he needs to be on his way to the drive camp since it will be dark soon. Tom tells Ben to give the Sheriff a pouch when he see him but when he lifts it off his horse Ben notices Tom’s brand in the shape of a tepee. Tom tells Ben, T for Tom and P for Pat, TP. Ben tells Tom that Joe keeps saying tepee over and over and also says wagon wheel. He asks Tom if any of the other ranch owners have a wagon wheel brand, Tom confirms that Orv and Jim Fenton does.


Fenton tells Orv that everyone has moved out except for Hoss who is still at the house, they ride back to the Griswold’s place and it will be dark soon.

Ben draws in the dirt to show Tom over branding the tepee and Tom confirms that Joe must have caught Orv and Fenton doing it. Ben heads back to the ranch and Tom waits for the Sheriff.

It is now dark and Pat and Julia are cleaning up, Hoss is still holding a sleeping vigil next to Joe.


Fenton runs to the house and hides while Orv starts a fire in a shed. Ern spots the fire and shouts for help, everyone including Hoss go out to put the fire out; Fenton runs into the house while everyone is busy. Ben returns but is fired upon by Orv, he fires back and shouts to Hoss to get to Joe. Fenton runs into Joe’s room and begins to smother him. Hoss arrives and pulls Fenton off Joe and throws him across the room, he grabs him and punches him and then throws him out the window. Seeing he’s no threat anymore he hurries over to Joe to check he’s okay. Orv makes a run for it but Ben manages to wound him.

Ben runs in the house to go to Joe and Hoss tells Ben he’s okay.

When Joe is better he is put in the back of a buckboard, he can’t wait to get home. Ben doesn’t know how to thank Pat for all her help, Pat tells Ben that Orv and Fenton would have bled them dry if it hadn’t been for Joe. They leave for home.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights[]


Guest Stars[]

  • Peggy McCay: Pat Griswold
  • Richard O'Brien: Tom Griswold
  • David Huddleston: Dr. Scully
  • Sandy Rosenthal: Steen
  • Walter Barnes: Sheriff Truslow
  • Keith Carradine: Ern
  • Tony Colti: Orv
  • Victoria Thompson: Julia
  • Evans Thornton: Flanders
  • William Stevens: Fenton


  • Location scenes filmed at Old Tucson, Tucson, Arizona.
  • German episode title: "Joe in Lebensgefahr", meaning "Joe in Danger of Life".


  • If Orv and Fenton were over branding the tepee brand it would make the wagon wheel ridiculously large.
  • Hoss finds a lot of spent bullets where Joe was found, Joe wouldn't have had spare bullets since he fell off Cochise.



External Link[]