Chapter 7:

The following week, back at Black Steer Ranch, Naruto and Clint were riding along the northern fence line inspecting it when they noticed a cut out section.

"The fence has been cut and there are footprints and cattle tracs going through leaving the range." Clint shows Naruto the damaged fence and the tracks explaining how to scout and track the lost/stolen cattle.

"Naruto you repair the fence, I will go with a few hands and scout the herd to see how bad we were cut into." Clint rides away as Naruto climbs off Nashi and pulls out a scroll from his saddlebags.

Opening the scroll to reveal several rolls of barbed-wire, a dozen 6-foot metal stake fencing posts, a box of u-nails, fencing pliers, a come-along wire tensioner, and a spool of #12 wire. As he does this he talks to Nashi.

"Someone cut out fence, and from the track, they stole from our herd. Master won't like this at all." Nashi nods and grunts as to answer the little range boss.

It takes a bit more than an hour to fix that section of the fence line. As Naruto was cleaning up his work and resealing his fence kit back into the scroll, he noticed an object shining in the mud. Leaning over the see it better, he is able to identify it.

"A shuriken? This is a Ninja tool. What is it doing out here? Nashi, we better show Sensei and Master what we found." Nashi grunts at Naruto. He saddles up and they ride back to the ranch proper to explain what they found.

After arriving and noticing that Clint and Will were still out, Naruto begins taking care of Nashi, removing the saddle and bridle then placing her in the barn side pasture to sun and graze, Naruto washes up and goes inside to begin his studies and wait for his Master come home.

"I'm home!" He calls and Becky is quickly at his side, kissing his cheek. "We got a bit of trouble brewing it seems." Naruto tells Becky what happened along the fence line and what he found as he repaired it. Maureen, Tsunade and Shizune listen in as Naruto explained.

"This isn't the first time something like this has happened, but finding a shuriken is a bit concerning. Naruto you let the men do the round up this time as rustlers are not to be taken lightly. Your only 6 going on 7 and Becky would only worry if you went." Maureen tells him. "Yes mam." Naruto agrees.

"Now time for lunch and then your studies. We got new schoolbooks from Konoha so let's get to it. Becky you may start serving you man." Tsunade grins as Becky moves with a purpose knowing how hungry her Naru-kun must be.

That evening, Naruto shows Will and Clint the shuriken and explains how and where he found it. As expected, Will wasn't happy one bit.

"I checked your work. You did an excellent job on that fence repair." Clint praised and Will smiled at his hard-working apprentice.

"How many heads are missing from the northern herd?" Will asked.

"From the inspection we did this afternoon it seems around 25 and a couple yearling calves were a part of the taken also." Clint reported.

"Very well, Naruto you go back to Becky. Clint and I will deal with this for now. The women have already stated their concerns of you age at this year's round up and I agree. You keep on with Hondo and the smithing duties. Help him with the horses so they will be ready for the round up. OK?" Will commands.

"Yes Master." Naruto answers and goes to his Becky.

"How is his marksman training coming along? Will asks Clint.

"With his Hawkins, anything out to 200 yards he can kill. That is also the limits of that rifle. I would advise you to keep at his training and enter him in a few competitions. Then when he is 10 move him up to a modern rifle and optics. He has the makings of a true sharpshooter. His skill and accuracy with his side-arm is also good. His quick draw still needs work, but he is still just 6 going on 7." Clint reports.

"Keep at his training then, give him more hunting opportunities. We will enter him in the Cowboy Shot Show competition this year. Let's see how he can handle the stress of a competition as people stare at him." Will says.

"Yes sir." Clint agrees.

In their room, fresh from their baths, wearing pajamas, Naruto sits behind Becky and brushes her freshly washed hair enjoying the strawberry scent from her shampoo.

"So, daddy wants you on smithy support for this year's round up?" Becky asks.

"Yes, it hurts but I understand. Hondo Sensei does need help getting all the horses shoed and their hooves trimmed in time for the round up. It's just finding that shuriken has me worried. Cowhands and rustlers, they don't use such tools. It doesn't fit. What do you think Domina?" Naruto asked Yugao, who was the children's chaperone tonight.

"Well, while anyone can buy shuriken, your right it really doesn't belong to a cowhand's tool set. Master Will knows about it, and he has started the range round up to pull in the steers in. So, it will be just fine. Let the old hands do their job and you do yours to support them." Yugao says smiling to ease the young rancher's mind.

"Your right, Domina." Naruto smiles back.

"OK, your turn, sit in the chair so I can do your hair. " Becky kisses Naruto on the cheek, smelling the sandalwood scent coming from him because of the bath kit she bought. She happily begins to brush his cleaned hair. Yugao giggles at the young, promised ones.