Ernie Brown, Jr. (Turtleman): A Truly Remarkable Man
No portion of this work may be copied or used without sole, written permission of the representing talent agency, and the author. This article has been published with permission from the United Talent Agency.
Throughout your lifetime, there will be many people about whom you will form an opinion. Some opinions will be so-so, while others will be not so good. But, every once in a while, there will be a person who will surprise you. There ARE still kind, honest, hard-working, sincere, and passionate individuals out there in our great big world. These are the people that wake us from the slumber of our daily routines; good people doing good things. People that make us happy! Such is the story of Ernie Brown, Jr. (a.k.a. Turtleman).
Ernie was born and raised in Washington County, Kentucky. He was an avid animal lover and spent hours investigating the ways of the animals in the backwoods of his home state. By the age of 7, Ernie learned how to catch snapping turtles with his bare hands, as taught by his father and uncle. His very first snapper was 25 pounds, (Animal Planet online, 2011). He has caught thousands of snapping turtles ever since that day; hence the name “Turtleman.” During his outings in the woods Ernie’s love and respect of the animals grew. This is evident today in the way he “rescues” and releases the wild animals he is called upon to remove from residential homes and businesses (safely and with no harm to the animals). Ernie recently spent a year deep in the woods of Kentucky on a mission to fully immerse himself into the wild, so he could further study and learn the ways of the animals that live there. What passion! With his dog Lolly and his best friend Neal at his side, a catchy yell-“ya-ya-ya-ya-yay!” and a sparkle in his eyes, Ernie sets out every day on a new adventure.
These days, Ernie is very busy. His best friend, and right-hand-man, Neal James, takes phone calls at his home from the locals (and sometimes out of state folks), who put in a request for Ernie to come and rescue the wild animals that wander into their homes and businesses. Neal then travels to Ernie’s home and debriefs him on the requests, and then the two head off to save the day. Neal and Ernie have a great respect for one another, which is evident on the new T.V. hit show Call of the Wildman on Animal Planet (Sunday evenings). Neal is always concerned about Ernie during his rescues, and it is truly a pleasure to watch the two interact during the show. Fortunately, they have a few other wonderful folks to help them out on their calls; David Brady and Jake Ison. Rescuing wild animals is a very dangerous business, and everyone takes it seriously.
The residents of Kentucky are very fond of Ernie. Rather than kill them, he releases the rescued critters back into a safe location, in the wild. Ernie carefully studies their behavior before and during the “catch,” then thoughtfully chooses a name for each one. For instance, fairly recently, Neal received a call from a local, who had found animal droppings in the bottom of his well. This man had been down in the well investigating, and heard a growl, so he high-tailed it up a ladder and called Neal straight away. Because this was the man’s only water source, it was an urgent matter, so Neal drove to Ernie’s right away. The two then traveled to the home, and upon descending the well, Ernie found a treasure! An albino racoon is evidently quite rare. According to Neal, only 1 out of every 100,000 racoons is albino, so finding one is a rare experience indeed! Needless to say, after much screaming (yes, screaming, the little racoon put up quite a fuss during the rescue) Ernie caught the little guy with his bare hands (of course) and placed him in safe keeping. “Spirit” the Racoon was lucky to have been found by Ernie. He is now living happily in the woods, and far away from any wells. A long list of animals have good and proper names now; among the list are Poopy the Raccoon, as well as Tiger and Sneaky; both Snapping turtles.
Just yesterday, I had my first communication with Neal. “Ernie's grandparents called him Krushchev cause he was bald when he was a boy. He was visiting one day and a copy of the Rolling Stone magazine was laying on the table. He asked them who them people was and how did they get on that magazine. They told him that every one had a talent and the folks on the magazine's talent was making folks happy. Why do you ask this, Kruschev? He said I'm gonna make folks happy and get on that magazine!.....I believe he's almost there!!!”
I do believe Ernie is doing just that… he is making a lot of people happy. What a rare and wonderful thing, to be saving these animals from certain death at the hands of us humans. We are so privileged and lucky to have in our midst, such a strong man, with a gentle soul. How lucky are we, to be given the opportunity to watch and learn from this truly remarkable man!
Melinda Baker 12-23-11