Gun of Ages

Rifle sees itsthird century of hunting action

Antiques business owner and avid hunter John Kemp of Edgefield, S.C., found the perfect way to combine his two passions when he retooled his great-grandfather Samuel Marsh's rifle, which he'd discovered as a child in the attic of his family's home. In fact, Kemp remembers playing cowboys and Indians with the unloaded gun as a young boy. The rifle, originally a .32-caliber percussion action built in 1850 near Saluda, S.C., by Elijay Hall, was used for hunting by Marsh in the 1800s and by Kemp's uncles in the 1900s.

Hoping to put the near-forgotten rifle back into commission for a third century of hunting, Kemp sent the gun to Pennsylvania, where the barrel was rebored and rerifled. Another stop in Pennsylvania helped to put the action back in order.

Now a .45-caliber, the antique firearm was used by Kemp to open his 2004 deer season in South Carolina. It took several trips, but Kemp finally gave the gun a proper recommissioning by taking a nice eight-point buck in the same woods his great-grandfather once roamed. Kemp hunts on property that has been in his family since 1758, when King George II granted them a 400-acre parcel.

JohnKemp hails from a long line of sportsmen who have used the same percussionrifle to hunt with since 1850.