Peasant serf Thomas is entrusted with protecting the forest. Thomas has to catch serfs like himself, who come to the forest to hunt or cut wood without the permission of the master. Unsurprisingly the villagers do not like him and nickname him "Biryuk" for his surly and unsociable character. But in reality Thomas is a kind and conscientious man who lives with his young daughter Ulithi a simple life. Utterly devoted to the woods and trying to protect every tree, the main character is mistakenly killed by a gentleman's bullet, who came to the woods to shoot birds and wild boars.