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Style · March 19, 2014

Faces of Fauquier: Farmers with varmit woes call him

Photo/Cassandra Brown
“The people are fair, friendly and faithful,” Rod Kirkpatrick says of Fauquier. “They will help anyone in need. It’s a great place to live.”
See, groundhogs are a nuisance and they dig 7- to 8-foot deep holes in the ground and owners don’t want their horses stepping in those holes. Groundhog hunting is nothing but a waiting game. Once, I didn’t move for three hours and 38 minutes.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Since 1978, he has helped maintain the buildings, grounds and equipment at Chestnut Forks Athletic Club, near his childhood home and just north of Warrenton.

A fixture at the club, Rod Kirkpatrick devotes his spare time to telling friends his stories about growing up in Fauquier County and how to hunt groundhogs.

Nicknamed “Groundhog,” he has hunted the big rodents for farmers in Fauquier and surrounding counties since age 14. Controlling the population on a property reduces the number of groundhog holes that pose risks to livestock, horses and their riders, according to Mr. Kilpatrick.

“Groundhog hunting is nothing but a waiting game,” he said.

With a command of Fauquier history, Mr. Kirkpatrick shares tales about growing up on Twin Oaks Farm, which became the Airlie Conference Center, just west of the athletic club on Route 605. His late father, a U.S. Air Force colonel during World War II, bred horses and played a significant role in local foxhunting. Col. Kilpatrick, in 1956, sold the farm to Dr. Murdock Head, who created Airlie.

Fauquier County “is laid out almost the same today, as it was when I was growing up. It’s small, but not too small,” Mr. Kirkpatrick said. “The people are fair, friendly and faithful. They will help anyone in need. It’s a great place to live.”

• Age
80

• Home
Sperryville

• Work
Part-time maintenance worker at Chestnut Forks Athletic Club since 1978. He served 30 years as a chair umpire for tennis tournaments at Chestnut Forks.
Previously, he worked for General Motors in Michigan and night shifts at Dulles International Airport in the foreign mail department.

• Why do you do the job?
Chip Maloney, the owner, gave me the job. We were friends.

• Family
Sister, Anita, 79.

• Education
Stuyvesant School in Warrenton for seven years. Attended Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro for a few years. Bachelor of arts degree in biblical studies and a minor in speech from Bob Jones University, 1962.

• Civic and/or church involvement
Member of Grace Bible Church in Marshall

• How long have you lived in the Fauquier area?
Off and on since I was born in 1934.

• Why do you live here?
I watched people grow up with their farms and we knew everyone in Warrenton. It is laid out almost the same today, as it was when I was growing up. It’s small, but not too small.

• How do you describe this county?
The people are fair, friendly and faithful. They will help anyone in need. It’s a great place to live.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
You don’t see much respect or discipline in children these days, and I hope that changes. I hope people don’t keep selling their land. We need a new facility for a post office in Warrenton.

• What do you do for fun?
I go groundhog hunting. One summer, I shot 612 groundhogs. The landowners don’t have the time, and I’m glad to contribute the time to help them. I hunt groundhogs mainly for cattle, horse and orchard farmers. See, groundhogs are a nuisance and they dig 7- to 8-foot deep holes in the ground and owners don’t want their horses stepping in those holes. Groundhog hunting is nothing but a waiting game. Once, I didn’t move for three hours and 38 minutes. I use a varmint rifle with a .24-caliber bullet. I started hunting groundhogs when I was 14 years old, when I lived on the farm.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Clark Brother’s Gun Shop

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
It might look more like Culpeper — more developed. I remember when Culpeper only had dairy farms during War World II.

• Favorite TV show?
Football

• Favorite movie?
Western movies starring John Wayne.

• Favorite book?
Christian books, sportsman guides and hunting books.

• Favorite vacation spot?
When I get a vacation, I go groundhog hunting in Fauquier County.

• Favorite food?
Chicken, because you can make it in so many different ways.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
My father use to say, “Better to have a true enemy, than a false friend” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

• Who’s your hero and why?
Mr. Chip Maloney, because he is willing to sit down with anyone and talk to them. I look up to him. He has the hide of a lion and the heart of a lamb. I have watched his children grow up.

• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
I wouldn’t go overboard. I would buy myself a nice place and donate it to others, help people with their businesses.

>> Suggest a “Faces of Fauquier” profile subject

Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Previous Faces of Fauquier:

• Horses “retire” to work with Jeanne Blackwell.

• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.

• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.

• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.

• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.

• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.


• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.


• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.


• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.

• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.

• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.


• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.

• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native

• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.

• His job dovetails with passion for hunting

• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.

• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people


• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.


• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.

• He lives and works in a beautiful place.

• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.


• Pretty things everywhere she looks.

• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.

• One day, he might run the company.


• FISH volunteer likes to help others.

• She sees the community’s generosity.

• Cop patrols while most people sleep.


• Pastor a constant in Calverton.


• She keeps the courthouse spotless.


• He loves working working outdoors at the park.


• She sees “everyone” at Carousel

• Library assistant works in a “fun place"

• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton

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MaryE · March 21, 2014 at 4:59 am
What a kind man Mr. Kirkpatrick is. Although I have not spoken with him in many years, I recall fondly of all the many visits he made to Fenton Farm, and the conversations with my dad, before he went out to rid the fields of groundhogs.
Glad to hear he is doing well and still enjoying his hobby! Mary
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