Monk attends a preliminary hearing for his possible reinstatement to the police force. Two of the three panel members are willing to reinstate Monk, but the vote needs to be unanimous, and a third member of the panel, Captain Willis, plans to vote against him.
Later, a dejected Monk meets Captain Stottlemeyer at the scene of an armored car robbery where one of the car's drivers has been shot and killed. Monk investigates and suggests that the police dust coins from nearby parking meters for fingerprints.
Lieutenant Disher arrives on the scene, dressed in full camping gear. He's leading an outing as part of a police outreach program that includes Capt. Willis's son, Brian. Monk, thinking this could be an opportunity to score points with Capt. Willis, agrees to join Disher on his camping trip.
Monk heads into the woods with Disher and the boys. Monk tries to befriend Brian, but Brian can tell that Monk is only trying to curry favor with his father. Some of the boys find bullet shells on the ground and begin to collect them as two brothers, Del and Luke Johnston, watch from a distance. The Johnston brothers robbed the armored car, and they've returned to the spot in the woods where they used to take target practice to clean up any incriminating ballistic evidence. Unfortunately, Disher, Monk, and the kids got there first.
That night while everyone's asleep, the Johnston brothers leave fresh food out at the campsite to attract bears and scare the campers away. It works, and the next day the brothers collect as many bullets and bullet casings as they can find, but they can't account for all of them. They track down the kids and approach them, posing as friendly hunters. The brothers know that Brian is using one of their bullet casings as a sinker on his fishing line, and that the line - with the sinker still attached - has broken and is still hanging from the mouth of a fish that Brian has caught. They offer to buy the fish, but Brian is greedy, and refuses to sell it. The Johnston brothers walk away.
Monk figures out what's going on, and asks Brian for the fish. Brian refuses to give up his catch, and storms off. Monk goes after him. When Monk finally catches up with Brian, they find themselves face-to-face with an enormous, hungry bear. Monk grabs the incriminating bullet casing from the fish's mouth and gives the fish to the bear. But the bear is still hungry, so Monk calmly - and courageously - talks to the bear until it decides to leave them alone.
Meanwhile, the Johnston brothers are still looking for that bullet casing. As they close in on the kids, Disher surprises them and takes them into custody. Disher and Monk return to safety as heroes, and Monk wins a favorable vote from Capt. Willis in the final reinstatement hearing. Unfortunately, the other panel members have changed their minds and decided to vote against Monk, so Monk's reinstatement will have to wait for another day.