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The Turtle Man: ‘Kentucky’s best kept secret’

With apologies to my old Kentucky home for setting back its effort to overcome hillbilly stereotypes, we present Ernie Brown Jr., the Turtle Man — snagger of snapping turtles.

“I try not to smile cause I got my teeth knocked out by a chain saw,” he explains to the photographer in this piece for Kentucky Afield TV.

Brown, from Lebanon, Ky., calls himself “Kentucky’s best-kept secret” and “the poorest famous guy around.” Brown travels to farms and rids ponds of turtles causing problems such as biting horses and cows.

You can also find an excellent story and video about Brown in the Lexington Herald.

Brown, unlike most other turtle eradicators, works only with his hands. As for the shrill yell he emits with each catch, that’s not hillbilly — not purely a rebel yell, he explains — but half native American, as he says he is.

Though he says the turtles make for “good eatin’,” Brown insists he takes the turtles to ponds where they won’t cause problems. “I’m kind of like a warrior, like Robin Hood,” he says. “I bring a turtle out of this pond, put him in another where he won’t do no violence.”

“I don’t kill it,” says The Turtle Man. “I only catch it. Don’t never torture nothing. That’s my name of the game. That’s how you stay into it. Keep people liking you.”


Comment from Mary Schmidt
Time February 4, 2009 at 11:09 am

In my part of the nation, there aren’t that many hills, so we just have rednecks instead of hillbillies. The redneck way of relating to snapping turtles is to shoot them, just because the turtle is around.

This guy seems incredibly brave–a good sportsman. I didn’t see any visible scars on his arms and no mishaps for the Turtle Man were recorded in the video. Obviously, he’s got a lot of skill to be able to grab the tail and not the head of the snapping turtle.
There’s a certain dignity to this guy doing a difficult and potentially harmful task, without high-tech gadgets, armor and so on. Interesting video.

Comment from Allison Raymond
Time January 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I watch nearly all of Ernie Brown’s (turtle man’s) episodes. I think what he does for people is so generous, he’s so unselfish and giving. More people should have the heart and goodwill he has. You don’t neccesarily have to go out and catch turtles and get rid of ‘critters’ to do that. Just show a little kind-heartedness towards your fellow man/woman. Keep it up turtle man!

Comment from Bobby Ramirez
Time April 25, 2012 at 9:36 am

My daughter and I watched all of turtle man’s episodes, my daughter Savannah age 4 love’s him, she love’s his call and nearly does it all day wanting me to draw a feather on her arm. We look forward to watching him and she is wanting to know when he is coming back on. I just difficultly understanding of rumors that Mr. Ernie Brown Jr. is dead, is that true. For Savannah’s 5th birthday she is wanting a turtle man birthday party; just try to figure out how to pull this one off.

Bobby from Dallas TX

Comment from Lou DiNola
Time May 25, 2012 at 6:34 am

Omg my daughter is 4 and wants Turtleman to come to her birthday party. Every night she is asking if Turtle Man is coming back on yet.

Lou from East Haven CT

Comment from Paula
Time August 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm

My daughter came up for a visit she was watching tv and changed the channel to the Turtleman. I just started watching several of his episodes he is so entertaining love his show. He has a great personality is very knowlegeable about all the animals and reptiles he catches and releases. He makes us laugh which is A+++++ for us too. Keep em coming with new shows thanks~

Comment from Kim Florey
Time September 3, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I started watching him when his show first started, my husband came in and started watching it and he’s been hooked also, along with our 8 yr old daughter. We all lovd him so! We all are constantly doing his call all the time. He is the sweetest, cutest man ever! Heart of gold. Love all his friends and dog too! We will continue to watch just as long as he’s on! Can’t get enough! Live action!!

Comment from dee
Time October 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

God bless you for going to see the child that passed with cancer.

Comment from Kristen
Time April 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I have almost watched every single episode of call of the wildman and every time I am sad all I have to do is watch it and I am happy again. I live turtle man soooooo much I can’t explain how much I do. All my family members call me Mrs. Turtle Man. And I would like to point out Turtle Man is NOT dead.