Kentucky's 'Turtleman' gets his own TV show

rcopley@herald-leader.comOctober 7, 2011 

  • ON TV

    'Call of the Wildman'

    Premieres at 10 p.m. Nov. 6 on Animal Planet


  • Ernie Brown, Jr., known as the Turtle Man, entertained crowds by catching snapping turtles with his bare hands in farm ponds around Lincoln and Marion Counties.

If you haven't gotten enough of Kentucky's Turtleman through viral videos of his animal-taming exploits, Animal Planet is about to give you six more hours of him.

Starting at 10 p.m. Nov. 6, Ernie Brown Jr. will be featured in 12 half-hour episodes of Call of the Wildman, a program featuring the Lebanon man digging snapping turtles out of lakes and ponds and engaging in other animal-taming exploits, such as evicting a poisonous snake from a woman's home and catching a rabid raccoon without being bitten or scratched.

The show's title refers to Brown's shout after capturing his quarry.

Brown started gaining fame during the past few years when he was featured on Kentucky Educational Television's Kentucky Afield and in a Herald-Leader profile that had an accompanying video featuring the Turtle Man diving shirtless into freezing water to capture a turtle that could snap a person's fingers off.

In 2008, Brown told the Herald-Leader: "Turtles have three natural enemies: the sun, the bulldozer and," after a little prompting, "the Turtle Man."

He said his intention was always to return animals to their natural environments, where they won't harm people, livestock or household pets.

Turtle Man's following has been boosted with a video from the Kentucky Afield broadcast that has garnered more than 3 million hits on YouTube, and a Dallas radio station writing a song about him.

The Animal Planet show promises to raise Brown's profile more. Invoking more than a few Kentucky stereotypes, a news release from the network says, "Turtleman lives an unbelievable Bluegrass lifestyle deep in the Kentucky wilderness without running water and an outhouse for a bathroom."

Nope, fame does not seem to have spoiled him yet.

Reach Rich Copley at (859) 231-3217 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3217. Follow him on Facebook at Facebook.com/richcopleyhl.

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